Avaya Virtualized Aura UC Platform Applications

Avaya customers now have the option of running their Aura communications applications on VMware virtual appliances.

Avaya is bringing its Aura unified communications platform to VMware virtualized environments, joining other vendors like Cisco Systems, ShoreTel and Microsoft in virtualizing at least a part of their UC offerings.

Avaya officials unveiled Avaya Aura Virtualized Environment (VE), a fully virtualized 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.

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 virtualizing their data centers, 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 virtualized some level of their data centers, and Avaya officials—pointing to research by Nemertes Research—said 70 percent are planning to virtualize their UC applications. Partnering with VMware made sense, given the virtualization 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 virtualize their Aura communications applications will enable businesses to realize 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.

"Virtualization gives customers a lot of flexibility," Berry said. "Our customers now have a choice."

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 prepackaged, converged solution that includes the Aura VE applications and networking technology, VMware virtualization 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 virtualized at least part of their offerings. Most recently, Mitel in August announced a partnership with video collaboration company Vidyo and VMware to offer a virtualized UC offering. Mitel officials said they would integrate Vidyo's VidyoConferencing collaboration solutions into its virtualized Unified Communicator Advanced UC software and make it all available though VMware's View virtual desktop infrastructure.

Avaya has been virtualizing some products over the last several years, but wanted to wait until VMware's virtualization technology had evolved to a certain point before deciding to virtualize their key communications applications, Berry said. However, Avaya now offers greater scale in its virtualized 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 virtualization platforms, such as Microsoft's Hyper-V, but Berry said the company will let customer demand dictate whether that changes.