To give 21st century IP telephony the reliability of 20th century telephone service, Avaya Inc. this week is unveiling a suite of upgraded management software, applications, phones and gateways built to overcome network brownouts and failures.
In keeping with trends emphasizing disaster recovery, the Basking Ridge, N.J., manufacturer is championing its latest advances as designed for survivability, particularly for enterprises spread across multiple locations.
Avaya is devoting more resources to improving the features and availability of its IP applications because applications are now most important to customers, said Lawrence Byrd, director of communications applications at Avaya.
"Were bringing to IP telephony what you could expect when you had a single box in a single building," Byrd said.
The newest version of Avayas Communications Manager incorporates Enterprise Server Survivability and Local Survivable Processing options. "We want the entire network to be able to reconfigure itself," Byrd said. "For highly distributed enterprises, this redefines a higher level of availability."
The upgraded software supports open software development so that developers and users can create applications and set the foundation for next-generation Web services. Three new telephones and new SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) endpoints have also been added to the IP telephony suite, giving more finely tailored options to a wider range of enterprise needs.
The University of Washington is an early adopter, having installed AT&T Corp.s Definity G3r switch in 1989 as an emergency backup for its Centrex service. The plan was for the G3r—later produced by Lucent Technologies Inc. and then Avaya—to serve a small group of emergency responders. But it offered so many features that new lines on campus were added to it rather than to the Centrex system, said Scott Mah, assistant vice president for IT infrastructure at the school in Seattle.
When Avaya came out with its Communications Manager IP telephony system, the university jumped on board, eventually building up to 30,000 lines on the system across three campuses. However, the initial version, while providing the needed scalability, did not deliver the reliability of the old emergency backup system, Mah said.
"It was almost like we took a step back in the early days," Mah said. "As each release has come, weve gotten more feature functionality and more architectural survivability capabilities."
Department of Homeland Security requirements dictate more robust backup communications, but perhaps as important for the university is its regions potential for natural disasters.
"Were in an earthquake-prone area, and theres volcanic activity just south of us," said Mah, who started testing Version 3.0 of Communications Manager this spring. "Were ready to provide the tools and capabilities for our first responders."
Also, Avaya is introducing media gateways, including the G250, which comes with features such as POE (power over Ethernet), dial-up backup and contact center support. An upgraded Converged Communications Server, Version 3.0, offers enhanced SIP capabilities, including user presence; a new Network Analyzer optimizes voice applications.
Despite the new reliability enhancements in the IP telephony system, the university retains a Centrex-like system as a backup.