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5 ways Avaya can stave off irrelevancy

Jim Duffy | March 9, 2012
New Avaya data networking chief Marc Randall has five focus areas in his sights to help the company sell its Ethernet switches, gain market share ... and perhaps stave off irrelevancy.

The data center is another natural fit for VENA -- and vice versa, Randall believes. With data center switching fabrics moving to low latency, multipath architectures, VENA and its SPB foundation are up to the task.

Indeed, VENA was initially introduced to address these new, flat, low-latency Ethernet fabrics for the data center. And it brings simplicity to an overly complicated consideration, Randall says.

"One of the things that continues to be a big challenge in the data center is, you've got [Juniper] QFabric, [Arista] spine and leaf, [Cisco's] three tiers, and all of the solutions are pretty complex," Randall says. "VENA is shortest path bridging, which is Q-in-Q," the well established IEEE 802.1Q-in-Q VLAN stacking specification. "Our next step is, we really have to be a lot more vocal in the data center community on our solution. It brings to market an extremely compelling value proposition to Cisco FabricPath and the others."

The data center and campus initiatives also involve another key market for Avaya -- intelligent switching at the network edge. Intelligent edges in the data center and in the enterprise keep traffic from always going to the core of the network to get forwarding instructions, thereby reducing latency.

Randall says network edge intelligence lets IT have a flat architecture where data doesn't have to touch the core, facilitating a more horizontal, or "east/west" traffic flow versus always going to the core. In this regard, Avaya will continue to enhance its edge switches with forwarding, application and service-level intelligence so these horizontal, low-latency VENA networks can be implemented enterprisewide.

Where Avaya has gaps is in the remote access and unified branch, Randall admits. Mobility comes into play in the market as well. Randall sees an opportunity to improve policy-based security management in branch offices through a concentration on Avaya wireless LANs, secure routing, and support for the "bring your own device" (BYOD) phenomena.

With more employees accessing corporate data and applications from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, security becomes even more of a concern for enterprises. The traditional branch office management model has to change, and that's where Avaya is looking for opportunity.

"In the traditional branch, security is all based on MAC address," Randall says. "We're moving to the point of, you should have policies per individual -- where do they work, what should they get at, what operating system do they have on their device, what device is it -- and be able to generally provision access as people plug into the network. This year you will see more (Avaya) activity in the branch."

And as for that sliding market share -- how does Avaya data networking keep from slipping from the buyer's radar screen?


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