As an industry veteran, how do you think the networking business has evolved over the years?
Avaya got into the networking business via the acquisition of Nortel which has been in the industry for over 20 years. Every five years, or every few years, the networking business sees a lot of changes. For example, in the 90s, infrastructure was a big play. In the 2000s, with the advent of technology, the focus was to improve performance and make user experience more palatable. In the last few years, the challenges for the network has been to effect transition to the mobile environment or leverage collaboration to ensure a release from being tied down to a brick and mortar structure and connect anywhere, anytime and over any media or any device. Applications play a key role in business, and therefore, customer experience and network architecture should be thought through in order to improve application performance, because eventually, it all boils down to two things: Applications and devices. Customers will assess you by the quality of services you deliver to them. They will use cloud computing as a benchmark, and that's the reality. So, when you think of your network assets, typically, you have a physical network that aligns you to resources. For example, at an airport, they have a network for the lounges, check-in desks, CCTV cameras, and these constitute physical networks.
Similarly, in a datacenter, you could have a virtualized datacenter, but to get there, you would have to take a physical path. Therefore, you would have to spend a lot of money and resources to get these independent networks.
At Avaya, our transition in the networking space has been to move to Ethernet fabrics. The entire network is built on a flat fabric base, which means that all networking elements can communicate with each other. The virtual networks are built on top of that physical fabric. So, there's actually one network which looks and acts like four independent networks. That's where the network infrastructure is headed. Network industry is moving away from just creating siloed networks (speeds, protocol etc) to solving business problems.
"SDN allows organizations to have an infrastructure that lets them scale out to control the network so that applications can communicate with middleware and the middleware, with devices."
How is Avaya readying for software-designed networking?
When you think of SDN, and what businesses need to solve, it's the communication between applications, the network, and devices. The network is now being treated as an underlying layer and has no indication of what you're running on it. SDN allows organizations to have an infrastructure that lets them scale out to control the network so that applications can communicate with middleware and the middleware, in turn, can communicate with devices. At Avaya, we call it application-defined networking. We are able to establish a communication layer between the application platforms and the network. This layer has the ability to understand the quality of a particular network connection, and tell the application about the same. This solves 50 percent of the network issues when you try to collaborate.
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