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

To say that Avaya networking engineers have been getting their fair share of air miles would be an understatement. As Avaya was the Official Supplier of Network Equipment for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, many of our most talented engineers were given the opportunity to travel to Sochi to support the network that was providing critical wired and wireless connectivity services to Olympic athletes, officials and journalists.

Although you’d think that they’d be busy supporting a network of 50,000 ports & 2,500 WiFi access points, running 36 HD video channels and 7 separate virtualized networks, they seemed to have time to check out many of the competitive events:


Avaya Core Systems Engineer Dom Rumford managed to catch a few Olympic events at Sochi 2014, including bobsledding.

The good news is while the team was checking out hockey and bobsledding, not a single severity one or two ticket was raised on the Avaya network. This was a trend that lasted the entire duration of the Games. So, in addition to Canada coming 3rd in the medal standings, this was also a reason to celebrate!

From Sochi, many of these same engineers had to travel straight to California for the hot staging of the InteropNet environment. This is the second year that Avaya has been selected to provide the backbone network for the coming Interop event in Las Vegas.

Related article: What is Avaya’s Strategy Around SDN? A Q&A with Avaya Networking’s Chief Architect, Paul Unbehagen

This got me thinking… there are a lot of similarities between InteropNet and Sochi’s network. Both are temporary networks set up for a short duration of time. While the Olympics have the eyes of the world on it, Interop has the eyes of our peers. In both cases, the network has to work flawlessly.

There are a number of reasons that our Fabric Connect technology (based on enhanced IEEE/ IETF Shortest Path Bridging) is ideally suited for these and other large scale events and why it was selected by the organizing committees of each event.

  1. Simplicity: With both networks, there are limited staff onsite, and a large reliance on vendors and volunteers. Therefore, having a network that is easy to design, operate and manage is of huge value. Our ability to deliver all network services (L2/3 routing and multicast) with a single technology, and configure those services with simple end point provisioning (rather than hop by hop) enables these highly visible networks to be run with a lean IT staff.
  2. Agility: Events are dynamic in nature, so having a technology that enables adds, moves and changes on the fly is of huge value. Again, Fabric Connect, with its ability to enact changes at the end points, only eliminates the risk of human error during change (according to ZK research, a cause of approximately 29 percent of all network downtime) and enables IT to enable new services and changes with greater speed.
  3. Resiliency: Uptime is paramount for these events. Having a streamlined, load-shared network allows for recoveries in the milliseconds in the event of a failure. In a Winter Games environment, there is always the risk of a fiber cut in an alpine venue, especially when there is not much snow (which was the case in both Sochi and Vancouver). Luckily, with fiber diversity and load-sharing between them–even without snow–technical teams can breathe easily.
  4. Secure Traffic Separation: At Sochi, we needed to support 7 different network environments over a common infrastructure. At InteropNet, we are collaborating with Axis and ONSSI to deliver high-quality video surveillance that we want isolated on its own network, separate from exhibitor and conference room traffic. Our ability to easily create separate, independent virtualized networks completely isolated from one another (a feature we call “stealth networking”) that can be set up in just a few simple commands is of huge value in both of these environments. The nice thing is these networks are completely invisible from an IP reachability perspective, making them more secure and less vulnerable to attack.

So although it’s been an action-packed month of travel for many of our engineers, there has never been a more exciting time to work in Avaya Networking.

For more details on Avaya’s role at Sochi, check out: For details on how to visit Avaya in the InteropNet NOC, email me at

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Why We're Joining the OpenDaylight Project

Interior design, gardening, and marketing all share a rule stating that individual elements seem more balanced when they are grouped in threes.  While home décor, gardens, and marketing are interesting, for me, they don’t hold my attention like a good technology discussion. Let’s borrow the rule to understand why Avaya joined the OpenDaylight Project.

So, why is Avaya good for OpenDaylight?

  • Real-Time Applications Depth: Few companies have as deep an understanding of business communications and collaboration as Avaya. When industry pundits hold forth on the benefits of SDN, it’s those gained from real-time applications that are usually at the top of the list. Avaya will represent the industry well.
  • An Innovative Culture must thrive in a project like OpenDaylight. Not only has Avaya been an innovator for over 30 years in networking through acquisitions and organic development, but Avaya has shown that they are consistent in delivering the best technology possible, period.
  • Industry Collaboration: Avaya realizes that some customers prefer the “whole stack” from one vendor and that some customers prefer a “buffet” from multiple vendors. Avaya technology enables customers to have the best of both worlds and designs products accordingly. Avaya also holds memberships in OpenStack and UCIF.

And why is OpenDaylight good for Avaya?

  • Automation in the Core: The central problems that SDN is meant to address are often caused by a handful of 25-year-old control plane protocols such as xSTP, OSPF, and PIM. Instead of building an SDN control plane on top of an already complex infrastructure, or waiting on a disjointed industry to deliver a new way of implementing the complexity onto white boxes, Avaya already has the foundation for SDN with a technology called Avaya VENA Fabric Connect. Avaya Fabric Connect automates the set-up and tear-down of everything from QoS to routing on the underlying infrastructure, to complement the automation and simplicity of SDN applications managed by the controller. The great news is that Avaya Fabric Connect is field tested and running in customer sites around the globe and was the underpinning for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
  • Innovation in the North: With the automation of the mundane set-up and tear-down of networking tasks, Avaya wants to contribute to creating relevant north-bound API’s that the controller can abstract from the applications and translate for the infrastructure to implement.
  • Hospitality in the South: Avaya understands that the infrastructure may become a very mixed environment. A given site may use legacy switches, Shortest Path Bridging (SPB)-enabled switches, and vSwitches all at the same time. Avaya’s goal is to help evolve southbound API’s to a state that allows the controller to either dictate directly to individual elements in a passive environment or  to delegate to the fabric in an intelligent environment.

In keeping to the rule of three, Avaya’s message to customers is straightforward: Implement Avaya’s foundation for SDN today and plan for open orchestration tomorrow. Here is how:

  1. Implement a network-wide fabric for core automation
  2. Plan for applications with an OpenDaylight Controller
  3. Start defining policies for interactive application performance management and the scope of automation

In short, this relationship is a good fit for Avaya, OpenDaylight, and an industry looking to embrace the promises of SDN. See the announcement of Avaya membership at the OpenDaylight website.