Avaya Bundles EMC Storage, VMware vCenter In New Collaboration Pod


Avaya Tuesday unveiled its Collaboration Pod, a prepackaged converged infrastructure solution that combines Avaya unified communications and networking, EMC storage and VMware's vCenter platform.

Avaya first introduced the Collaboration Pod in August, when it launched a fully virtualized version of its flagship Aura UC platform, allowing Aura customers to deploy Aura applications in VMware-based environments instead of needing dedicated servers. Avaya at the time said customers would have the option of buying this new virtualized offering -- called Aura Virtualized Environment or Aura VE -- as a pure software offering, a server-based dedicated hardware version, or as a Collaboration Pod.

According to Avaya, the Collaboration Pod model is ideal for enterprises and cloud service providers looking for a full stack, plug-and-play communications and collaboration solution. The converged networking, storage and virtualization technologies delivered with Avaya Collaboration Pod, Avaya said, allows cloud service providers to accelerate their push to public and private clouds, eliminating the need for extensive integration testing or IT investment.

[Related: 6 Questions On The Mind Of The Avaya Channel, Answered]]

Avaya Collaboration Pod also helps IT teams focus on more critical tasks such as supporting a sales team or improving customer-facing technologies, rather than on infrastructure, explained Randall "Randy" Cross, director of fabric and infrastructure product management for Avaya.

"Communications, collaboration and infrastructure -- if your company has more than one person or customer you have to have these things. So really, they're table stakes, and you don’t want your IT team to be focused or spending a bunch of time on table stake technologies," Cross said. "You want to make those [technologies] as easy to consume and digest as possible, so IT can focus on the right areas."

Avaya Collaboration Pod for Aura VE includes the full lineup of Aura UC technologies, including Aura Communication Manager, Avaya Session Manager, Application Enablement Services and Aura Presence Services.

Other components making up Avaya Collaboration Pod include EMC's VNX 5300 unified storage array and VMware's vSphere ESXi 5.0 compute servers. Avaya's VSP 7000 top-of-rack data center switch and Avaya's G450 Gateway are also included, with the Avaya Aura Messaging Server and the Avaya Session Border Controller for Enterprise as optional additions. All components can be managed through Avaya's Pod Orchestration Suite.

Cross said the new Avaya Collaboration Pod will help Avaya UC-focused channel partners extend their reach into the infrastructure space, while helping infrastructure-focused partners gain more of a UC play.

"We spent a lot of time talking to our partner community and trying to understand the best way to go into this space. If you look at some of our traditional Aura partner base, they haven't been getting into infrastructure," Cross said. "And, similarly, for some of our infrastructure partners that haven't been on the application side, [Collaboration Pod] brings in a new element for them."

Cross said all Avaya partners selling Aura today will be eligible to sell Avaya Collaboration Pods. To offer full services and support for Collaboration Pod, however, partners will need to hold VMware- and EMC-specific certifications.

PUBLISHED APRIL 9, 2013