3 Reasons Why the Network at InteropNet Will Be Our Best Yet

In my last blog post, I talked about Interop selecting Avaya to run the backbone for its InteropNet showcase network for the second year in a row, using its unique Fabric Connect technology, based on enhanced IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging.

With the Hot Stage for this event now winding down, I sat down with Steve Emert, one of our solutions architects supporting the network, to find out how it went and how we are helping make InteropNet bigger, bolder and better than last year.

Related article: From Russia to California: What the Olympics Taught Us About InteropNet

InteropNet is the network that powers all the connectivity services for exhibitors, conference attendees and conference organizers at the Interop tradeshow in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year, the event runs from March 31 to April 4 at the Mandalay Bay convention center.

It represents an environment where competing companies work together to put together a leading example of a heterogeneous, temporary, volunteer run network–where the mandate is to deliver 100 percent network availability for its users.

Last year, the main attraction for Avaya was showing interoperability of the IEEE/IETF standard Shortest Path Bridging, with HP, Alcatel-Lucent and Spirent. We enjoyed working with Tail-f Systems and developing integration between our switches and their multivendor service orchestration tools.

InteropNet will be bigger and more impressive this year than ever before. Here are the reasons why, based on input from Steve Emert and the rest of the InteropNet team (Jeff Cox, Carl DeVincentis and Bob Thais):

1. Video Surveillance

This year, we are excited to be working with Axis Communications and OnSSI to showcase an industry-leading video surveillance deployment. Video surveillance is at an inflection point, as it rapidly transitions from analog formats to IP. An IP network that is easy to deploy and operate is necessary to facilitate this transition.

Video surveillance deployments today generally fall into three categories: Analog with encoders, unicast, and multicast. Having a network that is optimized for all three is important.

Avaya Fabric Connect, with its support for IP shortcuts and IP multicast shortcuts, allows for simple, scalable, high-performance video surveillance without any need for additional IGPs or complex PIM-based protocols. This is a huge advantage, as those of you who have worked with PIM or any other multicast protocols know very well! (For more, check out this video)

At this year’s Interop, we will be leveraging the Axis/OnSSI Video Management System and placing IP surveillance monitoring stations in the InteropNet NOC, Axis booth and Avaya booth showing real-time video streams from Axis IP cameras located across the Interop show floor. It will be highly worth checking out!

2. New, More Compact Products

Last year, we extended Fabric Connect to the show floor pedestals, using the ERS 8800 as the distribution switch. This year, we chose to leverage the VSP 7000 to provide line-rate 10GB distribution between the VSP 4000 switches used in the show floor pedestals, so that we have a smaller form factor product.

The fact that we are delivering a consistent architecture from the VSP 9000 core switches, to the VSP 7000 distribution switches to the VSP 4000 access switches–all Fabric Connect enabled–make things much simpler to operate and troubleshoot. We are also using the VSP 7000’s unique Switched UNI capability to transport the traffic for IPv6 routing to separate IPv6 interfaces in the VSP 9000’s.

InteropNet 2014 Networking Diagram

3. More Wireless

This year, wireless connectivity is being provided by Ruckus (Avaya has a WiFi solution; however, we only bid on the backbone portion of the InteropNet network). Our VSP 4000 access switches will be providing connectivity and power for up to 4 AP’s per pedestal.

Aside from a minor software issue we discovered during the Hot Stage related to IPv6 multicast router discovery (which was easily remedied by the R&D team in Bangalore) the test went extremely well. This was good, since much of the team was jetlagged and sleep-deprived from their adventures in Sochi.

Much of their time was spent on simple configuration modifications (easy to do with the end point provisioning capabilities of Avaya Fabric Connect) and testing, testing and more testing, which, of course, is the key to pulling off a successful high-profile deployment!

For more details on how to visit us in the InteropNet NOC, email me at camillec@avaya.com.

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World’s Largest Surveillance Camera Provider Awards Avaya Technology Partner of the Year

You need more than just sophisticated surveillance video cameras to catch it all. Although cameras are an important part of the equation, the quality of your surveillance video is only as good as the quality of the network infrastructure that it runs over.

Blurry video, lapses in video footage and delays in pulling up video footage: all of these major complications can result from a poor underlying network … and cause serious security lapses. According to a 2014 report from ZK Research, 70 percent of surveillance issues can be attributed to less than rock-solid network quality.

Axis Communications, the global leader in network video, recognizes the importance the network plays in delivering high-quality and secure surveillance. At its 10th annual Axis Connect & Converge Conference, Axis − the world’s No. 1 provider of surveillance cameras − named Avaya its 2015 Technology Partner of the Year.

Avaya offers a network optimized for video surveillance. Leveraging Fabric Connect, an Avaya network uses Shortest Path Bridging (SPB), which eliminates the need for multiple protocols and enables simple endpoint provisioning. This gives the network greater scalability, performance and simplicity than traditional IP network offerings, leading to more flexible and reliable support for Axis video surveillance cameras.

When a spotty network means spotty surveillance, customers look for reliability. An always-on network means safer hospitals, cities and even schools, such as in the case of joint Avaya and Axis customer Holland Hall. Due to increasing calls for safety for students and faculty, Holland Hall implemented a new video surveillance system with 50 Axis cameras and an Axis video management system (VMS), with the capacity to add more cameras as needed.

“We just dropped in our IP video surveillance system and it works without impacting our student network,” said Henry Finch, the school’s director of IT. “We can spin up whatever we need on the security side knowing we don’t need to wait until after school.”

To learn more about how video surveillance is made easy with Avaya, click here.

Building a Network for the Brontobyte Era

If your company is running on a legacy network, this story will be all too familiar. From mid-June to mid-July of this year, hundreds of millions of people worldwide tuned in for the World Cup. Here in the U.S., many of the tournament’s 64 matches fell right in the middle of the American workday.

You would have seen it if you walked into any office that month—lots of employees wearing headphones, furtively watching live video streams of faraway soccer matches on tablets, smartphones, auxiliary monitors and in nested browsing tabs.

What most people didn’t know was that legacy networks across the country were groaning under the weight of that unexpected traffic.

I heard stories of executives trying to connect to HD video conferencing calls, and not being able to get onto their own network. Critical business functions—financial transactions, multimedia file transfers, customer service contact centers, and more—were either impacted, or crashed entirely.

Those failures weren’t in the applications. They were in the network.

Legacy networks were designed for a different era, with myriad boxes and switches that have to be manually configured and networked with one another.

Traffic hits bottlenecks in the system, leading to slower speeds, and in some cases, total outages. Getting the network back online is a physical job, run by technicians inside the data center. Upgrading equipment requires planned downtime.

Adding new applications, such as HD video conferencing, can take weeks of step-by-step configuration and careful testing. After all that work, 80 percent of companies deploying a new application will fail on their first try, due to complex network configurations leading to unexpected problems.

Networking demands aren’t getting any easier—it’s estimated that global IP traffic will reach 131.6 exabytes per month by 2018. It’s difficult to wrap your brain around how much data that really is, but by one estimate, 5 exabytes is the equivalent of every word ever spoken by mankind [http://www.whatsabyte.com/].

By 2018, the world’s networks will handle 5 exabytes of data every 28 hours. It won’t be long until we’re measuring network traffic in zettabytes, yottabytes and brontobytes.

Here at Avaya, we’re building future-ready, virtual networking software and appliances for the brontobyte era.

Avaya Fabric Connect is a virtualized, software-defined network designed to be flexible, scalable, and easy to set up and manage.

Using Fabric Connect, companies can give specific applications priority status on the network, making sure, for example, that critical business functions like HD video conferencing and financial transactions get a green light, while YouTube and Facebook take a back seat.

A related product called Avaya Fabric Attach makes it easy to automatically add new networking endpoints—everything from a new router or switch to an IP-enabled security camera. As new endpoints get connected to the network, Fabric Attach automatically identifies and provisions services for those endpoints.

Now, the network is a single entity, rather than a series of individually-programmed boxes.

Unlike many of our competitors, our network architecture was built from the ground up on open, IEEE standards. Avaya helped author those standards, and our engineers continue to contribute their intellectual capital to both the OpenStack consortium and the OpenDaylight project.

Fabric Connect and Fabric Attach got their biggest tests to date earlier this year, when Avaya built the network in Sochi, Russia that powered the 2014 Winter Olympics. Every live video broadcast out of Sochi flowed across Avaya’s network, as did every gigabyte of WiFi data from the 120,000+ mobile devices brought to the Games by athletes, fans, journalists and staff. The network ran with 99.999% uptime.

Network virtualization offers a path forward for companies struggling to keep up with growing data demands. Open, flexible, standards-based technology means the network will be able to handle the types of bandwidth-hungry devices and applications of the future that haven’t been invented yet.

Why Today's Avaya Collaboration Pod News is a Big Deal

Have you ever used a Swiss Army Knife?

It’s full of everything you could conceivably need in a pocket-sized tool: knives, files, a magnifying glass and even a toothpick and corkscrew. It’s pretty useful, but you still have to pull out the specific piece for the corresponding function.

What if that Swiss Army Knife retained all its functionality, while being as easy to use as a spoon?

Take that concept and apply it to turnkey cloud-based enterprise solutions, and you have the Avaya Collaboration Pod.

UCaaS and CCaas Right Out of the Box

Avaya today announced two new Collaboration Pod models specifically for Cloud Service Providers, enabling them to offer Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and Contact Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) to end customers. These virtualized products come set up right out of the box and customized to the customer’s specific needs, simplifying the Data Center environment through integrated management and support.

This streamlining has been shown to decrease Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over 5 years by more than 50%, with increased IT efficiency  due to Avaya Fabric Connect capabilities.

Related article: Avaya’s New Wireless LAN 9100 Mutes the Sucking Sound of Network Downtime

A standards-based network virtualization technology, Fabric Connect improves the network performance of real-time applications and provides simplified virtual machine mobility, greater agility and faster time to service via end point provisioning.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

“The ability to turn up applications at breakneck speed in a way that reduces complexity and cost is a competitive differentiator to us and to our customers, said David Raftery, a managing partner with Integration Partners. “We see the Avaya Collaboration Pod as a fundamentally unique path to achieve the technical and financial benefits of cloud based applications.”

For enterprises, advanced Customer Experience Management functionality has been added to the existing Collaboration Pod model, enabling a broader range of Avaya virtualized applications for deployment.

The model can now support multichannel interactions through Avaya Elite Multichannel, self-service via the Avaya Experience Portal and management through the Avaya Call Management System, in addition to its full Unified Communications capabilities.

Cloud Service Providers Connex and ROI Networks will be utilizing the Avaya Collaboration Pod as part of their UCaaS offers for their customers.

“The Avaya Collaboration Pod enables us to offer powerful unified communications and video solutions to our customers regardless of whether they are looking for premise-based or cloud- based or any permutation in between,” said Jeff Heibert, CEO of ROI Networks. “The integrated full stack, ready-to-deploy solution provides us with a platform that is easier to manage, provision, support and troubleshoot.”

All Collaboration Pod components receive integrated support, simplifying software upgrades and eliminating the need for support coverage from multiple vendors and reduce the time to deploy virtualized real-time applications from months to weeks.

Flexible, Scalable, and Coming Soon

A key value of the Collaboration Pod is in its flexibility.

Unlike some of the rigid, fixed configuration systems that exist in the market today,  the infrastructure components are scalable based on what applications the customer selects to deploy and how many users they are supporting on the system.

“We understand that companies want to take advantage of advanced communications capabilities but may not have the resources or desire to manage the operation,” said Sayan Navaratna, CEO of Connex. “The Connex Cloud enables us to offer our customers multiple delivery options as part of a managed service, including per user/per month, cloud-based UC service.”

The new Avaya Collaboration Pods will be generally available in the third calendar quarter.

For more information, click here.