Avaya Targets the Enteprise Fabric

Arthur Cole
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The State of Cloud Computing Adoption

End users and IT services companies are closely aligned on what they hope to get from the cloud.

To the telecommunications world, it's called Avaya. But the enterprise industry might want to view it as the Son of Nortel.

The company removed all doubt this week about what its plans were for Nortel's enterprise division following the company's acquisition last year. The result is the Avaya Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA), a virtual network fabric designed to provide both local- and wide-area services specifically for enterprise customers. The company bills it as an "end-to-end connection from the desktop all the way to the data center," loading it with a host of policy and provisioning functions and a broad set of network management tools.

VENA is based on the IEEE's shortest path bridging technology and is designed to support the company's Virtual Services Platform 9000, a hardware collection designed for 10 GbE to 40/100 GbE environments with the potential to scale up to 27 Tbps. It also supports the company's 8600 and 8800 Ethernet routers, as well as a forthcoming generation of high-density 10 Gbe and FCoE top-of-rack solutions.

The platform is likely to go head-to-head with systems like the Juniper Stratus, Cisco's Fabric Path and Brocade's Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS), all of which are scrambling to get in on the ground floor of what is likely to be a highly profitable transition from static architectures to more fluid virtual and cloud environments. To ease its way into this space, Avaya has been aggressively pursuing partnerships with leading enterprise vendors, such as QLogic and Silver Peak.

The good news for enterprises is that this seems to be a genuine attempt by Avaya to solve some thorny enterprise networking problems, according to The Yankee Group's, Zeus Karravala. The company could have simply re-purposed Nortel technology to advance its voice and UC platforms. Instead, they seem to have a viable solution to help enterprises rid themselves of their top-down spanning tree architectures. And rather than simply building a better, faster or, alternately, cheaper solution, they seem to have devised a unique approach entirely.

Whether that uniqueness has produced a superior network architecture is another matter, however, and one that won't be settled until we see some real-world deployments. For the enterprise in general, the addition of another fabric means that some key decisions about the future of your data infrastructure are close at-hand. There will probably be many right ways to deploy virtual fabrics, but probably just as many wrong ways, too.

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