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Avaya Boards the VMware Train

In October 2009 Allan Sulkin wrote on No Jitter about the Avaya Aura System Platform "...using standards-based virtualization technology for real-time communications. Avaya claims that virtualization will be the de facto method for deploying its future applications offerings." Turns out that the Avaya statement was a bit wrong and a lot right.

Avaya Aura System Platform's "standards-based" virtualization was based on Xen Hypervisor, an open source solution for server virtualization. A consulting member of Avaya's technical staff at the time (who left in June 2011) offered this quote for a case study: "The open source Xen hypervisor is stable enough and performs well enough to be the basis of our Avaya Aura System Platform."

Three years later, it is increasingly true that virtualization has become the de facto method for deploying real-time communications applications. In its recently released annual financials, Cisco's data center business was up 90% over the previous year, with UCS orders up 58%. But the "de facto standard" is VMware, not Xen Hypervisor.

It seems fitting that Avaya is righting its virtualization course by unveiling Avaya Collaboration Pods, a set of turnkey virtualization-based solutions, at VMWare's annual event, VMWorld. (In the press release, Avaya describes "Avaya Collaboration Pods" as a codename; they told industry analysts last week that the branding may change as the solution gets closer to general availability.)

Avaya Collaboration Pods will consist (in 4Q12) of: storage arrays from EMC; VMware vCenter and VMware View virtualization products from VMware; and networking, management, communications applications plus integration from Avaya--all "finely-tuned for the performance requirements of collaboration and other real-time applications." The first two Collaboration Pods announced are for Aura (think Communications Manager) and VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure).

What I like most about the announcement is a recognition by Avaya that the best way for them to position their data networking portfolio is to emphasize how well it works with the company's application portfolio. This graphic below was used by Avaya to portray how networks used to be the dog that wagged the application tail, and that the situation is reversing. And fine-tuning its network gear to optimally run Avaya communications applications is bound to be a more effective way for the company to move networking gear.