Our Top Takeaways from Avaya Technology Forum 2015

It’s ATF season again, and at our Avaya Technology Forum in Orlando (with more ATF events to follow in Vienna, Bangkok and Dubai), we’re diving deep into some of the biggest challenges and most exciting opportunities that span the full Avaya portfolio–networking, customer- and team engagement.

As the Internet of Things (IoT)–or even the Internet of Everything–evolves, we stand ready as the go-to solution for multiple industries and organizations around the world seeking to not just remain relevant, but remain operational.

At ATF events around the world, we’re putting our best and brightest out there, and as I do at each event, I had the opportunity to sit down with these leaders and discuss the technology solutions presenting the greatest challenges in our industry. These included visionaries and thought leaders like Paul Unbehagen, Val Matula, Laurent Philonenko, Matt Eastwood and Jean Turgeon.

As always, it was fascinating, and I’m happy to share some highlights from our discussions, all available in full on the Avaya Podcast Network.

Laurent Philonenko: A Drone Can Be An Endpoint

Laurent Philonenko is Avaya’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development, Chief Technical Officer, and he did something pretty interesting during his keynote to make a point about endpoints.

Fletch: As CTO, you’re in charge of technology and you get to play with the cool toys –you were playing with a pretty cool toy during your keynote – a drone.

Laurent: It wasn’t just for fun… this technology is now applicable in the enterprise. We managed to plug a drone into Scopia, and all of a sudden, we had video conferencing with a drone playing it over the audience. We have customers that we know who are using drones for field service applications, for example. It’s … an endpoint, just like any other endpoint for us.

We’re going to see more of those devices and sensors over time which, we are going to be able to work with.

In the labs, we are working at integrating an IoT toolkit from a small startup – we could embed and deploy applications with sensors.

These things are really going to make a big difference, and there is going to be a vertical dimension – public safety, field studies – all activities where people are communicating remotely. There is a ton of potential.

Paul Unbehagen: Shortest Path Bridging Is A Complete Departure From Everything We Did In The Past

Our Chief Architect for Avaya Networking, Paul Unbehagen, really knows a thing or two about Shortest Path Bridging, a revolutionary new approach to managing networks. He should, since he’s one of the authors of the SPB standard.

Fletch: One of the big topics here at ATF is Shortest Path Bridging – what is it, exactly?

Paul: It’s a radically new way of managing networks. It allows you to extend any type of service – even a virtualized layer – to any point within the network that utilizes the protocol.

It’s a complete departure from everything we did in the past. We’re carrying Jetsons technology in our pockets and using caveman networking. So, it’s part of that optimization of moving our network to be the same Jetsons technology. It’s a Fabric-enabled architecture.

Over the last few years, we’ve been deploying hundreds of Fabrics. It’s amazing the large percentage of them that have already been doing Internet of Things-type of connectivity.

We look in hospitals, subway systems, stock exchanges, school systems –every one of them has some form of Internet of Things, and they end up finding that was one of the benefits of having a Fabric.

My point of view as being one of the senior architects here is make sure we’re solving real problems that exist in the real world.

Jean Turgeon: If There’s No Disaster, You Don’t Have To Recover From One

Jean Turgeon is a VP and Chief Technologist, Software Defined Architecture at Avaya, and we spoke about the changing architecture of today’s cutting-edge networks.

Fletch: When we max out what we can do on the backbone, we need a new architecture that allows more connectivity. The problem is, you can’t do changes or disrupt the network in the middle of the day.

Jean: The days of ‘maintenance windows’ has to be over. Everybody talks about business continuity – it’s not about disaster recovery. If there’s no disaster, you don’t have to recover from it.

If you maintain business continuity you can make changes during the day. Why is technology not enabling us to do this? Well, it’s because we’ve piled up stuff for the last twenty-five years, and it’s now preventing us from moving at the pace that we need.

We’re going through a transformation. The current legacy architecture is slowing us down and making it difficult for customers to move into the era that they want to get to very fast. Everybody wants to move the ball further.

We had the right architecture, so when you look at the Internet of Things, Avaya’s Fabric architecture is the enabler. We can do this better than anybody else, and we’re going to make a point to let the world know about it.

Matt Eastwood: Discovering the “Third Platform”

Matt Eastwood, a Group Vice President and General Manager at IDC Analytics, discussed the intersection of mobile, social, cloud, and analytics, which he refers to as the “third platform.”

Matt: At IDC, we’re looking at the intersection of mobile, social, cloud, and analytics, which we refer to as the ‘third platform.’ We’re really seeing new opportunities to build on top of this third platform and really enable new types of business processes.

Fletch: How’s that going to impact all the organizations?

Matt: IT really needs to become much more of a broker of technology. IT needs to think a bit more broadly around the things that they’re willing to source via the cloud – not just the things that they want to own and control.

The typical end user will focus on those apps and data that have the best opportunity for differentiation in their business –things that are really core to their business.

With the Internet of Things, all these devices end up on the network. Whether we directly or indirectly interact with them, it clearly will be a big component driving a lot of data creation, collection and analytics, which will flow into the marketplace.

So, IOT’s also a big enabler. We’re actually building an infrastructure that’s sized for a scale that we’ve never thought of before.

You can see part of what we think will happen with the third platform model. There are lots of things that happen inside that infrastructure that enable us to really make sense of all those devices that will make up the Internet of Everything.

Val Matula: Is It New, New To The Organization, Or Just New To You?

Val Matula, CTO and General Manager of Avaya Emerging Products and Technologies, always has an interesting insight on technology and is the guy to talk to when it comes to engagement innovation.

Fletch: We’ve got a lot of cool concept stuff utilizing new technologies that are out there.

Val: One of the things that really excites me is when I see a new application that people would literally use every single day as part of their main line business and it’s new. Because then it’s not only real but there’s a great ROI story behind it.

Fletch: You know, I think it’s very rare that those things come along. Sometimes you just stumble upon them, and sometimes you’ve got other innovation that drives that innovation.

Val: We used to have a saying: “Put it in one of three buckets.”

Is it new to the world? Are you the first person on the planet to have discovered or invented this?

Is it new to Avaya? People are doing it but not really in a big way, and so you’re the first person to bring it to Avaya?

Or, is it just plain new to you? Everybody’s been doing this, but you just haven’t realized it?

The trick is to find those that are the front two and grab them when they’re commercially viable.

There’s a lot of good technology being created by Avaya, and our process is to take that and then make it available: sell it to customers, learn from that and build it into an ongoing product and an ongoing application line as we move forward.

More to Come

All that was just from the first ATF event in Orlando, with more to come. The next ATF event will be held in Dubai, UAE from March 30 to April 1st, Vienna, Austria, from May 5th through May 8th and Bangkok, Thailand, from May 18 to May 20. Click HERE to find out more, and stay tuned to the Avaya Podcast Network.

Want more technology, news and information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN. There, you will find additional podcasts from industry events, such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya Connected blog on E911. I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or, if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉 Until next week. . . dial carefully.

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