Avaya Expands Virtualization Architecture To Data Center Edge

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VENA, which stands for Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture, was first unveiled in November as the focus of a software upgrade for Avaya's Ethernet switching lines.

The data networking architecture is key to Avaya's virtualization strategy and ongoing effort to expand the data networking business it acquired from the 2009 acquisition of Nortel's former enterprise unit. It's also Avaya's entry into an increasingly tense competition among vendors like Cisco, Brocade and Juniper, all of which have architectures designed to optimize products for virtualized environments.

Avaya in late February updated VENA for a second time for the campus core, and Tuesday's update, the third, focuses on the data center edge.

Jean Turgeon, global general manager for data solutions at Avaya, described the debuts as "phase three" for VENA: an extension to the edge of the data center for server connectivity.

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New to the VENA ecosystem is the Avaya VSP 7000, a 24-port, 10-GbE top-of-rack switch enabled for 10 Gbps SPF+, 40 Gbps, or 100 Gbps, and supporting multi-terabit Fabric Interconnect Stack, Switch Clustering, Virtual Services Fabric, Edge Virtual Bridging and Fibre Channel Over Ethernet environments with a software upgrade.

The 7000 with a multi-terabit fabric interconnect will be $24,995 according to Avaya, and will be available to the channel starting in August. Eight VSP 7000s can be stacked together using that interconnect, and the switches also include hot-swappable redundant power supplies and fan trays and support for a number of different airflow configurations.

Also new is Avaya's Virtual Provisioning Service (VPS), a virtualization management tool for helping network administrators better manage and provision virtual machines within VENA. According to Trejean, VPS dynamically detects the motion of a virtual machine based on where it's placed in a data center and allows network administrators to reconfigure the network with more agility.

It ties in with VMware's vCenter Server Virtualization Management offering, as well. Although VMware's platform is the first focus, Trejean said, the architecture has been validated with Microsoft's Hyper V, even if the plug-in isn't yet available.

"VMware is the number one key vendor here, which is definitely not to say we're ignoring the others, there's just not pressure from customers," he said.

Avaya is additionally making available a new suite of professional services related to VENA enablement, including virtual network design and migration strategy assessment.

Interest in VENA has gradually taken hold since it was introduced six months ago, Trejean said.

"Every time you introduce a disruptive technology, it takes more time than you'd like from a ramp-up point of view," he said. "There's been a tremendous amount of channel enablement and training boot camps on how to position it. We have started to see good momentum build up among customers buying the technology. They like the platform, and we have started to get wins under our belts."

Trejean declined to say what VENA's next expansion will be, but after extending VENA from the data center core to the campus core and the data center edge, "I'll give you enough hints to let you read between the lines to the two other components" -- namely, campus edge and branch.