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We Need On-Premises-Based Solutions…and the On-Premises-Based Solutions Market Needs Avaya


A business telephone
Image: Brian Jackson - Alamy Stock Photo
Telecommunications is a critical infrastructure service and becomes even more so during times of crisis. However, even small regional events can tax the systems and services that organizations rely upon to respond to events.
We can’t avoid outages and service interruptions—any disruption is only a matter of when not if. The source of the disruption can be any from a long list:
  • Power outages
  • Weather events (snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.)
  • Natural disasters (earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, etc.)
  • Fiber backbone outages (usually a fiber cut)
  • Cloud infrastructure provider outages (such as AWS and Azure)
  • Hackers and sabotage threats
So why can’t we address these issues with cloud solutions? After all, the internet and cloud providers claim high availability, geographically dispersed resources, multiple routes, an architecture designed to route around damage, etc. But everyone can recall dozens of outages that affected services. It is surprising how often we have heard of a significant Internet outage due to a single fiber cut. We have seen denial of service and ransomware attacks. And we have an unlimited capacity to find new “human error” causes of outages.
A site that documented AWS outages reported at least seventeen significant outages with widespread impact in the ten-year window from 2012 to 2021. A Microsoft site that tracks Azure status has reported over twenty various outages for 2022, although many had minimal effects. The point is users can’t do anything to prevent such things from happening, and large infrastructure providers are not necessarily doing any better than an internal IT department.
The Case for a PBX
In May 2022, Melissa Swartz posted that “some clients have decided an on-premises solution is a better choice for their organization.” She listed common reasons such as control, security concerns, integrations, costs, etc. However, crisis management is a more compelling reason to choose a premises-based solution for many of our clients, especially those providing public services.
During critical times, such as severe weather, public disturbances, etc., the following organizations need reliable communications even more than during normal operations:
  • Governments entities, including first responders (police, fire, and medical emergency), public infrastructure (electricity, water, roads, etc.), and public communications
  • Health care industry, especially hospitals
  • Airports and public transportation services
When an extraordinary event occurs, the public agency must address three types of telephone communications: incoming, outbound, and internal. The problem with incoming calls is separating the critically necessary from the general inquiries. Outbound calls need to get through, but multiple dial-tone resources often exist. But of the three types, internal calls -- the ability to communicate within the organization—is the most critical. During an outage, the previously identified organizations must continue operating as close to normal as possible. Organizing staff resources, coordinating with other departments, and adjusting to events in real-time during a crisis are essential.
We can’t prevent outages, but we can prepare how we'll work through and around them. One of the best forms of preparation is to create a self-resilient design and internal control over reaction options during an event, i.e., a PBX. We do this with other critical components – we install UPS systems and generators to provide local power when public power sources fail. Multiple carriers and multiple path networks create redundancy. Although some problems are beyond our ability to create a complete business continuity plan, an on-premises PBX system provides a level of survivability and control not possible with a cloud-based service. Even when the outside world is failing (Internet, fiber cuts, DoS attacks, AWS failures), the client-controlled PBX can provide the following:
  • The critical internal communications capabilities (with staff and inter-department)
  • Dedicated techs focused on supporting the immediate needs of the organization:
             o Not trying to cover multiple clients
             o Have institutional knowledge of the solution and its configuration
             o Redirecting inbound and outbound traffic as needed
             o Reserve and restrict circuit and resource capacity for specific needs
             o Relocating resources (staff, equipment, circuits)
             o Adding services and functionality
  • Better discoverability and reporting control–including security logs
  • A mix of telco TDM and SIP dial tone
The above benefits everyday operations but becomes critical when things are not normal.
Some UCaaS solution providers have introduced a survivable gateway appliance to mitigate some problems. However, it is vital to research what is and isn’t provided with these devices. In many cases, functionality is limited, and the ability to reprogram core services on-the-fly is non-existent.
Avaya’s Role
The number of PBX manufacturers may be shrinking, but strong demand remains. Last November, a post by John Malone of The Eastern Management Group analyzed 2021 PBX sales and claims for enterprises with more than 1,000 employees and found that on-premises PBX outsold UCaaS by more than one-third. Although Malone listed many reasons, the ability to control support and provisioning tasks is critical for my public sector clients.
Nortel and Lucent/Avaya were the two most popular telephone system suppliers with large public sector customers for years. Nortel went bankrupt, although that did not diminish its appeal, and Avaya gained additional loyal clients. Cisco created its stellar reputation for high-reliability on-premises solutions and has the largest market share today. Firms like Mitel and Alcatel Lucent offer PBX systems but have not captured much of the market.
A single-supplier market is not healthy (even if Cisco is okay with that thought). With so many installed Avaya PBX systems and continuing demand for on-premises-based solutions, the market needs Avaya.
Dave Michels posted on this No Jitter in 2014 that the on-premises-based UC systems market was dead. But as long as human errors and uncontrolled events cause service outages, there’s a need for quality PBX systems – and vendors that can support them.

Enjoy incredible speakers, insightful educational sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities for consultants at the SCTC annual conference, Oct. 23-26 in Dallas, TX. The conference is open to everyone.