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Avaya channel partners will sell joint data center and collaboration

Execs promise Avaya channel partners they can jointly sell the Avaya data center strategy, collaboration and call center portfolios. Here's how.

Partner takeaway: Avaya promises there is a link between the Avaya data center fabric and offering collaboration in the campus and branch— so Avaya channel partners can sell both sets of technology together.

When Avaya first acquired Nortel's enterprise data portfolio in 2009, it was unclear how the company would combine the Nortel and Avaya channels. What was even more questionable was exactly how a unified communications or VoIP VAR might go about selling data center networking technology.

This week at Interop, former Nortel CIO Steve Bandrowczak, now vice president of Avaya Data Solutions, hopes to make the case that the new Avaya data center network fabric better supports unified communications, call center and other collaboration applications in a mobile environment. Therefore, selling the two sets of technology together only makes sense for Avaya channel partners.

The Avaya data center strategy is centered around Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA), the company's network fabric unveiled earlier this year. The technology aims to extend Layer 2 of the enterprise network, doing away with Spanning Tree Protocol to limit the number of hops data makes between storage and the end user. Going a step further, the architecture uses cluster switching to extend the data center core to the campus, and eventually the branch office. That means that applications such as streaming video or collaboration can be turned up and down at the branch office on demand, in the same way they could be within the data center— only now the services don't have to travel as far.

In arecent interview, Bandrowczak outlines the Avaya data center network strategy. In this SearchNetworkingChannel interview, Bandrowczak  explains  how Avaya channel partners can make the case for selling the integrated technology.

How exactly do network virtualization and an extended data center fabric play into handling mobile devices and collaboration applications?

Steve Bandrowczak: If you think about the traditional ways in which the enterprise has provided service, typically it’s out of a single data center, and today we just don't have that luxury. We want to be able to provide it out of multiple data centers, and you want to extend that service to the campus. The idea is to provide service anywhere in the enterprise and be able to easily turn it up.

We're looking to reduce network complexity. So we are taking away all these spanning trees and complex routing and specifically driving Layer 2 simplification. That allows us to be able to deal with when an end device hits our network. We want to be able to identify and secure it, and provide the service to that end device as easily and as fast as we can without making tremendous complex routes within the network.

We are able to create a service ID on every service that we turn up inside the network. If you think about putting in a fabric where you configure your core and you simply turn up a service (such as streaming video or unified communications) at the edge of the core, and your core knows how to handle that; that's essentially what we're doing.

We're now extending that to the campus and you will see later this year we will extend it out to the branch. (Avaya plans to extend this to the branch office in late 2011 or early 2012.)

How do you arm the channel to make the case for this interrelated technology?

Bandrowczak: With Avaya partners, you start with the communications side and move from the branch back. So it's our ability to wrap CC (contact center) or UC and data together with end devices. They all have mobility, security and identity components. You used to have an office which had a port and a phone number associated with it. The reality is that now our users log into the network and you bring the service to them wherever they are. The ability to identify who those users are is extremely important. So from the Avaya side, our partners have been able to sell UC and CC successfully, and so we start at the communications level at the branch and work our way back [to the data center network fabric story].

On the Nortel data side, or for the big Avaya partners like Tech Data or Westcon that have a tremendous data center practice, we can work with them on the core virtualization strategy around the data center, and then work our way out [to the communications technology at the branch]. Each partner is different and has a different set of customers and way to come at this.

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