Avaya at Interop: Managing Networks for Applications
Avaya exec Marc Randall spotlights what the company is calling "application-aware networks."
One of the themes that emerged in today's Collaboration sessions at Interop Las Vegas was the role that next-generation communications platforms can play in enabling a more feature-rich management environment for enterprises. Basically, the idea is that, just as UC&C enables multimedia, highly integrated endpoints, it also creates the opportunity for more capable back-end management systems that can do things like unify dial plans and provide more granular and contextual management of the end users who are increasingly connecting to the network via a diverse range of devices.
That was one of the themes that Marc Randall, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Avaya, touched on in his Interop keynote Tuesday morning, and it was also a focus when I talked with Randall by phone last week. In that conversation, he discussed a particularly interesting release that Avaya announced concurrent with his keynote, around new capabilities for managing BYOD and other end user connectivity.
The announcement centers on a suite of products collectively dubbed the Identity Engines Portfolio, which combines directory services and integration with a policy engine so that enterprise managers can accommodate BYOD and guest users with granular policy control.
This product suite isn't new--the latest release is version 8.0--but the latest enhancements reflect the growing reality of BYOD as a force that enterprise managers have to deal with. The newly released elements are the Ignition Access Portal, which gives IT managers greater visibility into the types of devices trying to register on the network; and Ignition CASE Client, which Avaya describes as a "dissolvable" client that can configure an end user device to comply with the necessary credentials to join the enterprise network, then immediately erases itself from the client.
When I spoke with Marc Randall, he noted that this sort of capability isn't just about BYOD as we currently understand it--that is, folks who today only B their OD when it comes to smartphones and tablets. Marc Randall told me that increasingly, organizations don't want to purchase even laptops any more. He said he's been talking to a large financial customer that hopes, over the next 3 to 5 years, to simply give their users a credit, say $2K, and let them provision their own device environment however each person sees fit--in accordance, of course, with company policy and the user's role. Then a system like the Identity Engines is able to configure these onboarding devices with minimal manual support.
This is in addition to the increasing need to support contractors or partners who visit enterprise sites. Marc Randall said network management capability will continue to get more granular, to the point that role-based access systems like the Identity Engines can control physical access--for example, the folks who work in the warehouse or are visiting on a sales call can associate to wireles APs in the appropriate places, but not in the accounting department, or whatever.
You have to be kind of a geek to get as excited about network management applications as most people get about really important end user apps like Angry Birds. But such geeks are the lifeblood of network management, and they can be hopeful that they'll have interesting, effective ways of managing the complex new world that end users are creating for them.