Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy at Enterprise Connect 2014: How Fabric Connect Eliminates Network Suffering

Are networks complicated these days? You bet.

The demands have never been higher, as an explosion of applications over a multitude of devices call for ever-growing bandwidth. People want voice, video and apps, and they want them now.

That was certainly evident at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where Avaya provided a 54-Terabit infrastructure upon which the crucial Olympic Family network rested—delivering 36 channels of live TV and Internet connectivity to athletes, officials and journalists.

“Sochi was a success in simplicity,” said Avaya President and CEO Kevin Kennedy, during his keynote address this week at Enterprise Connect. “We handled the equivalent of three Super Bowls-worth of traffic for 17 days.”

Analyst Zeus Zerravala agreed: “This is where the industry needs to put more focus.”

Each Olympics brings fresh networking challenges. At Sochi, tens of thousands of devices connected to the Olympic Family network each day. This time around, roughly 70 percent of all traffic was wireless. Just four years ago, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the ratio was flipped, with roughly 70 percent of network connections being fixed.

“Sochi was a bold set of choices, to cap the status quo and to move to an aggressive and application-friendly future,” Kennedy said. “Applications are what it’s about. That’s what people use, that’s where the velocity is, and that’s where the money is. That’s our user experience.”

Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy at Enterprise Connect 2014

Networking has traditionally been monolithic, with legacy companies building the entire technology stack. That rigid networking design may have worked in the past—in a world with strict client-server computing—but they struggle to handle today’s dynamic, application-driven demands.

“From the communications layers, to the applications layers, today, we are be-riddled with a constellation of applications, each with their own administrative domains,” Kennedy said. As a result, “many of us find ourselves in an unsustainable operational IT cul-de-sac…one that stalls our ability to roll out applications. Our complexity, after three decades of client-server computing and walking into a world of publish-and-subscribe applications – is hitting an unsustainable moment in time.”

The monoliths of the past are being broken down, particularly as various slices of the networking stack become commoditized, making technology more affordable.

“It costs money to do these things and when you do an Olympics, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time,” Kennedy pointed out. “If you don’t meet the schedule or it doesn’t work, everybody knows. The choice was: Do we continue the status quo? And the status quo is one that we in the enterprise world are familiar with.”

The solution was Avaya Fabric Connect, which uses network virtualization and cloud computing to create an easily-scalable networking solution.

“It’s an edge-only configuration,” he explained. “Define your service. It’s built on a protocol called Shortest-Path Bridging, which starts with the belief that you have ubiquitous Ethernet; you have ubiquitous mobility. You have V-LANs that scale from 4,000 to over 16 million, and now I can establish a service layer, administer it once, and have that service roll out across my network. You remove the number of steps; you remove the number of errors.”

The result was a “a great and stunning performance: 100 percent uptime. Six 9s availability,
one 9 improvement over the prior Olympics. 3-to-1 peak average

So is there still room for innovation and growth?

“I think the industry is ready for yet one more wave of productivity,” Kennedy said. “That tends to be an infrastructure today not even managed by many of our CIO infrastructures. Every software piece of infrastructure today has to enable itself, as well as applications in multimode environments, whether it be cloud, hosted, or just virtualized.”

The IT infrastructure must be application-friendly to enable all of these.

“Our job is to make sure we create more oxygen, so that those applications have a friendly IT environment, so they can prosper and grow,” Kennedy said. “You should expect from Avaya that we will continue to give you the opportunity for simplification.

“Whether it’s acquisition costs, operating costs or total cost of ownership, the impact to you can be very, very significant in terms of savings over the status quo,” he continued. “These are the opportunities Avaya is trying to deliver to you each and every day.”

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