Every math student knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It's a lesson that networking vendors are beginning to learn, too.
Avaya is now implementing the new IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging standard, a straight line approach to help networks take the shortest path between two points. Avaya's embrace of 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging is an extension of its Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) virtualization architecture, which was announced in November 2010.
Steve Bandrowczak, vice president and general manager at Avaya Data Solutions, explained to InternetNews.com that virtualization deployment to date has been limited to virtual servers within the walls of a data center. With VENA, the goal is to virtualize the data center across the enterprise and across multiple data centers.
"We're giving our customers the ability to flatten networking, with less complex routing trees, and now specifically we're using Shortest Path Bridging," Bandrowczak said. "More importantly this sets up an architecture that allows our customers to turn on services and applications in hours, instead of weeks or months."
Avaya is specifically embracing 802.aq for its ERS 8600 and 8800, Ethernet Routing Switching portfolio. Avaya Data Solutions and the ERS production portfolio came to the company in 2009 by way of the $900 million acquisition of Nortel's enterprise business unit..
Multiple networking vendors are embracing move towards flatter networks with a number of key standards. Networking giant Cisco, for instance, is aiming to deliver flatter networks with its FabricPath technology, which is an implementation of the IETF Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) standard.
"Nortel comes from a carrier background and as we looked at the different technologies that were out there for scalability, failover, resiliency and performance, we saw Shortest Path Bridging as the right way to go," Bandrowczak said. "We believe it's a better technology than TRILL today."
As part of the broader Avaya portfolio, Bandrowczak noted that the VENA approach helps to enable the enhanced collaboration and unified communications initiatives that Avaya currently has underway. In September 2010, Avaya launched its Flare platform for improving usability and user experience with unified communications.
"We have created a user experience that now runs on an Avaya device but will go and be completely agnostic and run on multiple devices including Android, iPads, iPhones and other devices," Bandrowczak said. "As we move down that path and we tie that back into a centralized service for managing sessions, the ability to virtualize becomes really exciting."
Moving forward, Avaya is looking at going even further with virtualization to enable enterprise-to-enterprise virtualization services.
"Meaning, we have a service and we want to extend and virtualize that service to a business partner. That's in our future thinking of where we're headed," Bandrowczak said.