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Avaya brings virtualization to the communications space

Virtualization, the most disruptive technology IT has seen in years, is just starting to enter the communications field.

A couple of years ago, there was great debate as to whether Tom Brady-led Patriots or the Peyton Manning-led Colts were the “team of the decade” for the decade ending in 2010. In tech, though, we have no ESPN or JT the Brick to pose such questions, but if we were to give an award to the “technology of the decade” for that same time period, there would be no question as to what the winner is.

Virtualization, without a doubt, was the single-most disruptive technology that we’ve seen in IT a long time, maybe ever. Continuing with the sports analogies, it could be looked at as the Bobby Orr of IT, in that the game significantly changed because of it and set the future direction for years to come. 

Virtualization disrupted almost every area of IT. Servers, storage, applications, management tools, security. You name it, it changed because of virtualization. However, one of the few technology industries that had not been impacted by virtualization was the communications space. It’s only been recently that we’ve seen these vendors embrace virtualization and transform their own products.

Earlier this week, Avaya announced that its Aura communications platform and related applications are now available for deployment on VMware virtual servers. Avaya actually alluded to this earlier this year and launched the product in November, but chose to wait to make the announcement until now. This is a logical move for Avaya because Aura was Avaya’s first pure software-based communications platform. 

This shift is a key step for the communications industry as a whole, as the UC and application servers have migrated away from branch offices, telecom closets and other locations to the data center to be deployed, managed and maintained the same way as other corporate applications. And how are those deployed? As software loads running on virtual machines. So, if the communications industry wants to keep up, it needs to run on virtual servers, more specifically, the nearly ubiquitous VMware.

Earlier this year, at VMWorld, Avaya announced its UC Collaboration Pod, which is a pre-integrated, pre-configured turnkey solution that actually has Aura running on a VMware virtual machine. This release takes what the collaboration pod started and expanded on it. 

With the current release, each Aura application would run on its own virtual machine. Each VM instance of the application can support 6,000 users so organizations can start small and then add capacity on demand by spinning up more virtual machines without having to disrupt current operations. The no-downtime upgrade isn’t something we’ve seen a lot of in the communications industry. This is one of the reasons I believe that, for all the talk of reliability in the older PBXs, IP-based platforms that are architected correctly can get better uptime and performance than older solutions.

This release is also a boon for Avaya’s resellers that want to offer a managed or hosted service. The virtualization of the software offers a greater level of flexibility as well as enhanced disaster recovery capabilities. However, this version does not support multi-tenancy, which Avaya said would be a feature for a future release. 

Avaya’s been talking the talk of its shift to software. The VM enablement is a big step towards walking the walk

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