Why is there such a fuss about next-generation networking?

TRP: Is fabric-enabled networking an alternative to SDN or does it complement it?

JT: Fabric-enabled networking is in my view the right and only foundation to deliver on SDN objectives. The main goal of SDN is to reduce complexity, eliminate propriety solutions, allow the fast deployment of business critical applications and establish quick and easy adds, moves and changes.

To date SDN, sometimes referred to as SDN 1.0, has been all about achieving this by separating the control plane from the network traffic itself. Fabric Connect does this today, delivering on the key promises, whilst providing the ability for applications to influence the behaviour of the network. In short, Fabric Connect technology enables businesses to solve their SDN challenges today. Avaya offers a shortcut path to SDN.

TRP: Where does SDN fit into Avaya's networking vision?

JT: SDN is very much part of Avaya's networking vision. Avaya is in a unique position allowing it to pursue an enterprise-wide SDN strategy. We have a 'full stack' solution that sees Avaya technology being deployed at the end user location plus the application servers that engage with the end users and the network that underpins all of the activities. This gives us an overarching view into the user experience, which we think is critical.

As I mentioned earlier, for SDN 1.0 Avaya chose not to build an SDN controller to solve the control plane separation issue. Instead we delivered a reduction of the control plane down to one protocol while maintaining interoperability with the legacy protocols. We basically took a different and yet optimal path.

We deliver at least 80% of the SDN goal through our Fabric Connect technology, which is currently seeing huge demand from customers, with over 50 deployments in the last quarter alone. Avaya is now working on the next set of challenges, addressing automation, simplification, business continuity, identity-based authentication and orchestration challenges.

Avaya's Fabric technology is part of its Software Defined Architecture framework, but we fundamentally believe these services, through the SDN framework should be accessible by other controllers without the need for another protocol within the fabric.

We believe open standards are key to the success of SDN and Avaya solutions are standards-based. We regularly contribute to the various bodies that oversee the development of SDN and continue to support the good deeds of the SDN community.

In the near future we will be making further announcements about our strategy.

TRP: What is holding businesses back from more widespread SDN adoption?

JT: As we can see from the uptake of our Fabric Connect solution, many businesses are already adopting SDN-type technology. However confusion remains around SDN due to differing industry terminology and definitions. This is creating a certain amount of uncertainty that, I think, is making some CIOs more hesitant to adopt SDN. I also think that many of the decision makers who sign off the budget for large IT projects remain unaware of the benefits this type of technology can deliver.

TRP: Following fabric technology and SDN, what do you think the next big thing will be for enterprise networks?

JT: Mobility and cloud are fundamentally changing how we access applications today – the edge of the network continues to undergo a major transformation in support of the growing number of mobile users requesting access to a range of applications and services.

With the advent of IoT this change will increase – couple this with the growth in real-time mobile applications, more content and more on-demand access, and you can see these will place stringent demands on the network. Three key inflection points in the network access space which demonstrates this are:

  • Wireless growth outpacing wired: wireless LAN is being pushed to provide the same reliability, availability and performance as wired infrastructures
  • Network Access Unifying: end users expect the same level of service regardless of whether they are using the wired or wireless network
  • Bring Your Own Device: BYOD remains mission critical for businesses that truly want to engage with their employees

All of these points highlight the need for a new approach to networking, and utilising an SDN approach will provide further opportunities for companies to run their networks at the speed of business required both today and in the future. Avaya can deliver on that vision today.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.