Avaya has made news over the past few years by going private, buying up Nortel's enterprise division and revamping its channel partner system. Here are some frequently asked questions about Avaya.

Can you describe Avaya's ownership?

The company has been owned by private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and TPG since a 2007 leveraged buyout for $8.2 billion. Being privately held means the company can act more strategically because it doesn't have to respond to the quarterly expectations of Wall Street, says Avaya's CEO Kevin Kennedy.

What are its major competitors?

Major unified communications (UC) vendors including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Shoretel, Siemens and others.

How are Avaya and Nortel linked?

Avaya bought Nortel's enterprise networking division and laid out a migration plan for bringing its VoIP/UC offerings in line with each other. Avaya has also set up a network infrastructure division to sell the former Nortel's switches, wireless, security and other infrastructure hardware.

What are its main business goals?

Avaya says it wants to advance UC via its software platforms, and is trying to draw customers of other telephony vendors into its fold. To do that, it is promoting interoperability of its call control server with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) gear from other vendors, making it possible to bind together multivendor corporate networks immediately, and to transition over time to SIP-based UC.

Even for its current customers, Avaya is promoting the SIP-based Avaya Aura serve as a practical addition to existing voice networks that becomes the foundation on which to build UC networks as the need arises.

What are its strengths?

Beyond its private ownership, the company has been ranked No. 1or No. 2 in enterprise voice for years, and with the purchase of Nortel, which was reliably in the top four, it should be considered a top contender for grabbing customers and migrating them to embrace its UC vision.

What are its weaknesses?

The company is still in the first year of having bought Nortel's enterprise division. This is a vulnerable time for any company that has made a sizeable acquisition, when it looks inward to organize and can lose focus on other top- and bottom-line aspects of the business.

The purchase of Nortel's enterprise equipment division prompted Moody's rating service to drop Avaya's credit rating to B3 -- one of the credit ratings commonly referred to as junk.

What does its road map look like?

Avaya hangs its future on Avaya Aura, the company's SIP-based communication software platform that will be sandwiched between communications infrastructure -- such as PBXs -- and services -- such as voice, video, messaging, conferencing and mobility.

The company has hinted at a chameleon-like device that could perform many functions, some of them similar to what the iPad attempts to perform.

It has also announced a forthcoming data center switch that will be upgradable to support 40Gbps and 100Gbps Ethernet.