Building the Network of Tomorrow, Today

Imagine you want to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

You can either get in a car and drive there, moving from city to city, waiting at red lights, traffic jams and bottlenecks … or, you can hop on a plane and fly over the traffic, going from Point A, straight to Point B.

Now translate that to your network.

The majority of business leaders I talk to today have legacy networks, which use a hop-by-hop configuration – similar to the slow and traffic-riddled, city-to-city drive. Legacy networking technology was designed decades ago and is saddled with unnecessary complexity and protocols. That sort of bandaged, bogged-down network just won’t cut it in today’s application-driven environment. The network of today needs to be prepared for the apps of tomorrow.

What we’ve built with our Fabric-based SDN architecture, Avaya SDN Fx™, is a futureproof, one-hop solution to that problem. Think of it as the direct, first-class flight to San Francisco.

Say you run into a failure on the network. With our next-generation approach, it’s akin to running into a little turbulence midflight.  The plane doesn’t stop. Instead, it gets dynamically rerouted midflight. No sweat.

We do the exact same thing with our flexible, Fabric-based technology. If there’s a node that needs to be traversed, the network is smart enough to automatically reroute that path.

And speaking of smart, your network intelligently routes traffic. Not all traffic is created equal – business-critical traffic (say, high-definition videoconferencing) gets the quickest route, while non-critical traffic (say, YouTube streaming) gets the slow lane, or can be blocked entirely.

The Avaya-powered, next-generation network is more agile, less complex and less susceptible to hackers.

Here’s why: Every endpoint on your network represents a potential entry point for a hacker. For companies with thousands of static endpoints, reducing the surface area of the network is imperative. With Fabric-based networking, endpoints become flexible, and connections are dynamically extended and retracted. Once the endpoint goes offline, the network closes the connection.

Since your network is no longer structured in a hop-by-hop configuration, it’s harder for hackers to find an “in” to your topology. Portions of your network become fully invisible — just like when you fly over cities and can’t really see them.

Improved agility coupled with increased cybersecurity – with Avaya SDN Fx™, businesses can have the network of tomorrow, today.

Want more? Download the Avaya SDN Expectations report.

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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.

SDN Solutions Provide the Tools to Revolutionize the Enterprise

The recent buzz in the industry is astonishing. I would dare to argue that we have never before seen this level of activity and innovation around networking, not even during the heyday of the early 2000s. Not a day goes by without an SDN-related vendor announcement, a new startup entering the fray, or a new alliance being formed. Truly exciting times indeed!

However, amidst all this activity it is sometimes difficult to see the greater trend: SDN and related industry developments have initiated a far more fundamental shift. SDN and peripheral developments are fundamentally altering the value network of the industry as value creation moves from traditional networking products to innovative, agile, software solutions.

As an extension, these technologies for the first time provide customers with the potential to provide application-controlled infrastructure agility across compute, storage, and network beyond the pure IT-centric automation solutions. This development finally enables enterprises and service providers alike to close the agility gap that has existed in most organizations, so that the business and the infrastructure can evolve in parallel.

Initial SDN offerings have focused largely on infrastructure automation and virtualized overlays to mitigate the lack of agility in the underlying, legacy network infrastructure. But in parallel, a new breed of SDN solutions is emerging that is providing far higher business value beyond the IT domain. These new solutions will enable innovators in various industries to definitively enhance their positions in the value network and the competitive landscape.

You might ask: What is the underlying issue driving these developments? Looking back over the past 20 years and the changes that have taken place in corporations globally since the emergence of IT and the Internet, it is obvious that value networks have been redrafted, as organizational structures have flattened and increasingly adopted matrix structures to deal with the needs to increase business agility.

In application development, where this change was mirrored, we have moved to agile development to cater for the need to quickly deal with uncertainty. Infrastructure virtualization has allowed us to keep up with the agility requirements in the data center.

However, the underlying networking infrastructure has remained complex and inflexible and has thus limited the deployment of more agile end-to-end solutions in many cases.

Life on the New Frontier: a Case Study

Emerging SDN applications and, to a lesser extent, selected SD-WAN solutions differ from traditional automation solutions in that they attempt to closely link business processes and supporting applications with the infrastructure, thus enabling the business to reconfigure on the fly as needed. They are the new frontier, beginning to enable even more innovation and efficiency, and will eventually deliver the real value of SDN in the enterprise.

To illustrate this, let me provide a sample use case:

Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) are a subset of contact center operators that handle calls for a third-party organization–typically a high-volume, low-margin business where performance improvements can provide significant competitive advantages. BPOs operate the contact center voice infrastructure and access their clients’ backend systems to provide services. In most cases, BPOs also span multiple geographies and languages, increasing complexity.

This means BPOs need to operate the contact center voice service infrastructure and applications, both of which are mature. Incumbent vendors are providing a range of innovative and mature systems and applications to manage these systems. These systems, in essence, mirror the BPO’s business processes.

The other systems that BPOs operate are their multi-tenant data networks, which need manual and complex correlation to the need to securely segment customers in the data center, the WAN, and the campus. These networks are often so complex that a large, multi-site deployment of a new customer can take weeks or months to plan, schedule, and implement–adding significant cost, delaying revenue, reducing business agility and posing a risk to existing customers’ SLAs.

An SDN application deployed in this environment that is able to translate the business process to the infrastructure and agent settings on the fly can reduce infrastructure cost, lower implementation cost, and shorten time-to-service to minutes, hence fundamentally altering the competitive landscape.

This is just one simple example of the power that SDN can offer in business environments to provide a true “game changer.” Other examples exist in just about any industry, from healthcare to industrial environments and from hospitality to media, to name just a few.

Time to Change the Game Plan

SDN applications that link business processes to all infrastructure components and enable businesses to alter the configuration of the business on the fly are real game changers and provide capabilities that have never been available in the full infrastructure stack to this extent, certainly not in networking.

However, successful reconfiguration of the enterprise and taking full advantage of SDN, requires a non-traditional approach to embedding IT into business processes. It also requires different skills and processes in the IT organization, with multi-domain knowledge and DevOps capabilities being key requirements. All this offers exciting new opportunities for IT staff willing to take the plunge.

Software-defined anything, as Gartner refers to it, is clearly still in its early stages–or, in Gartner’s representation, in an early phase of the hype-cycle. However, SDN is having a significant impact today, and we are only just scratching the surface of what this technology can offer enterprises. Maximizing the business benefit of SDN will require different skills and novel approaches. SDN is not just the next IT initiative.

Consequently, organizations interested in SDN should be sure they make these initiatives broader business initiatives, and executives should be sure they understand the possibilities that these new technologies offer their businesses.

Why Avaya + VMware = SDN Success

Why it doesn’t have to be an either-or decision between the underlay and the overlay

Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization, virtualization, data center automation, the list goes on. These are the hot topics fundamentally changing the way we design, build and operate our IT infrastructures. What do they all have in common? They’re being discussed in detail this week at VMworld, one of the largest annual gatherings of customers, experts and vendors in the industry.

As mentioned in our last post on VMworld, Avaya is showcasing its cloud-based Unified Communications and Contact Center service offerings, and the new, smaller sibling of the Avaya Collaboration Pod family, the Collaboration Pod 2400.

The Collaboration Pod 2400 combines virtual compute, storage, networking and all Avaya UC/CC applications in a ready-to-deploy platform with a “single pane of glass” management system and integrated support provided by Avaya.

This allows customers to have a very complex set of applications up and running in mere hours. Stay tuned for a future blog post on Collaboration Pods, where we talk to cloud service providers who confirm this time-to-service advantage.

Underpinning the infrastructure agility of the Collaboration Pod platform is Avaya SDN FxTM networking architecture and VMware’s virtualization technology. Avaya SDN Fx offers unprecedented flexibility and ease of deployment. Independent research found the technology resulted in 100 percent fewer outages based on human error, 11 times faster implementation and 7 times faster configuration and troubleshooting time. Avaya SDN Fx is a true game changer.

In order to provide compute virtualization and overlay networking, the Collaboration Pod uses VMware’s proven ESXi technology in conjunction with Avaya Virtual Provisioning Service.

The Collaboration Pod we are exhibiting at VMworld is a proof of concept that runs on VMware’s NSX-V platform. We’re leveraging NSX-V’s compute, storage and networking virtualization, as well as its micro-segmentation, to provide enhanced capabilities for controlling micro-flows.

VMware’s NSX-V and Avaya SDN Fx are highly complementary and an ideal foundation for SDN and cloud-based offerings in and beyond the data center.

Avaya Collaboration Pods Overlay and Underlay

Avaya SDN Fx and VMware’s NSX form a best-in-class combination and are proof of the ongoing innovation provided by Avaya and VMware. Avaya SDN Fx allows for the extension of the VMware fabric–including its micro-segmentation capabilities–to the campus and branch, thus providing an integrated, end-to-end solution.

As partners, we continue to deliver best-in-class solutions to our customers. Avaya plans to work with VMware to ensure closer integration with NSX-V and a co-certification once the VMware program for NSX-V becomes available.