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Avaya Partners VMware For Virtual Unified Communication

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

Avaya has upgraded its Aura unified communications platform to run on VMware virtualised environments

Avaya’s Aura unified communications (UC) platform can now run on VMware virtualised environments, following similar UC moves by Cisco Systems, ShoreTel and Microsoft.

Avaya officials unveiled Avaya Aura Virtualized Environment (VE), a fully virtualised version of the UC platform that the communications technology vendor introduced more than two years ago to become the foundation of its communication and collaboration technology.

VMware Ready

Now the applications on Avaya Aura have been certified as VMware Ready, enabling businesses to run them from a VMware virtual machine as virtual appliances hosted on a server rather than solely on Avaya hardware.

“All [of a business’] Aura apps are available on VMware,” Tac Berry, product marketing manager for Avaya Collaboration Platform, told eWEEK. “We’ve added a deployment option for Aura.”

Berry said customers over the past few years have been virtualising their data centres, and now want to do the same with the UC solutions. “This gives them the [option] when moving ahead with Avaya Aura, do you want it with your own infrastructure – with your own servers – or with VMware?” he said.

About 80 percent of businesses have virtualised some level of their data centres, and Avaya officials – pointing to research by Nemertes Research – said 70 percent are planning to virtualise their UC applications. Partnering with VMware made sense, given the virtualisation vendor’s broad reach in the industry; about 94 percent of Fortune 100 businesses are VMware customers, Berry said. About 85 percent of Fortune 100 companies also are Avaya customers.

Among the key applications in Avaya Aura VE are Aura Communication Manager – the foundational technology for the Aura platform – and Aura Session Manager, a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based architecture for accessing collaboration services and applications. There’s also Aura Application Enablement Services, which offers interfaces to developers for integrating communications applications, Aura Presence Services, Aura Agile Communications Environment and Aura Call Center Elite. Each application needs its own dedicated virtual machine, according to Avaya.

In addition, Avaya also is integrating VMware’s vCenter Server into Aura VE, including vCenter’s tools for diagnostics, traffic management and provisioning.

Being able to virtualise their Aura communications applications will enable businesses to realise significant efficiencies, from deployment to management, as well as cost savings, now that their communications applications can run as a virtual appliance hosted on the same physical machines that other key workloads run on.

“Virtualisation gives customers a lot of flexibility,” Berry said. “Our customers now have a choice.”

Deployment Options

Avaya actually is offering businesses three ways to deploy its Aura UC platform. They can get the applications the traditional way, via an Avaya Aura appliance, or as a software-only solution on a VMware virtual appliance. In addition, Avaya is offering Collaboration Pod, a pre-packaged, converged solution that includes the Aura VE applications and networking technology, VMware virtualisation offerings and storage from EMC, all in a third-party server.

Avaya officials first talked about the Collaboration Pod in August at VMworld. The Collaboration Pods could be available as soon as this month.

A number of other UC solutions vendors already have virtualised at least part of their offerings. Most recently, Mitel in August announced a partnership with video collaboration company Vidyo and VMware to offer a virtualised UC offering. Mitel officials said they would integrate Vidyo’s VidyoConferencing collaboration solutions into its virtualised Unified Communicator Advanced UC software and make it all available though VMware’s View virtual desktop infrastructure.

Avaya has been virtualising some products over the last several years, but wanted to wait until VMware’s virtualisation technology had evolved to a certain point before deciding to virtualise their key communications applications, Berry said. However, Avaya now offers greater scale in its virtualised offerings than other vendors and more of an ability to run some applications in a virtual machine and others on a physical system, he said.

Avaya has no immediate plans to offer its UC applications on other virtualisation platforms, such as Microsoft’s Hyper-V, but Berry said the company will let customer demand dictate whether that changes.

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Originally published on eWeek.