Avaya Goes After Cisco With New Ethernet Switches
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Avaya is updating its Ethernet switch portfolio with six new models designed to bring the capabilities of its Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) to the edge of the campus network. The additions to the Ethernet Routing Switch (ERS) 4000 portfolio offer plug and play capabilities for IP phones, Quality of Service (QoS) management, and support for both standard and enhanced Power over Ethernet (PoE and PoE+). The company says they feature Stackable Chassis technology that can handle almost three times more traffic than competing solutions while consuming 36% less energy and offering a 40% lower total cost of ownership. An additional 25-40% power savings, without traffic interruption, can be achieved by 'dimming' the network during off-peak hours with its Energy Saver functionality.

The new switches are another chapter in its VENA strategy, says Avaya, offering both tactical and strategic advantages. Tactically, the switches allow them to compete better in the enterprise, and strategically, the use of its chipsets future-proofs the products, allowing them to add capabilities like virtualization and extend the life of the switches to 7-10 years.

Tactically, this is a straightforward mid-range, high performance, stackable switch announcement with PoE+ and SFP+ support, says Rohit Mehra, director, enterprise communications infrastructure, IDC. “With some good QoS, and more importantly, UC-related integration capabilities, this will give Avaya customers a reason to look at both its voice and data portfolios.” Strategically, he says this will improve Avaya's value proposition with enterprise IT in terms of being a supplier that provides value through better integration of voice and data networking solutions. Also, from a strategic standpoint, this strengthens Avaya VENA architecture across the enterprise by adding another platform that participates in the virtual services fabric.

The timing is also significant, says Avaya, because a number of Cisco products are about to be discontinued so customers are evaluating different options. While it believes it also fares well against Juniper and HP, the company says Cisco is the only other vendor that can provide a full communications infrastructure, so that's where it sees the biggest opportunity.

Last quarter the Ethernet switch market slowed down to 7.1% sequential growth after an 'exceptional recovery' in the previous year, reports IDC. Second quarter 10GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) switch revenue increased 22.6% year over year due to continued adoption in datacenters and campus core deployments. Cisco continues to dominate, accounting for 63.4% of the Ethernet switch (Layer 2/3) market share in 2Q11 and 73.2% of the 10GbE segment.

Mehra says Avaya and Cisco are both major players within the UC/VoIP infrastructure space. “While Cisco's portfolio has spanned both the voice/UC and data networking markets for quite some time, Avaya, for the first time, is directly leveraging its voice/UC integration capabilities on the network switching side. At minimum, I expect existing Avaya customers to take a closer look at its data networking portfolio so they can benefit from the transition to a converged infrastructure.”

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