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Analysis: Avaya's Peer-To-Peer ToothacheAnalysis: Avaya's Peer-To-Peer Toothache

Avaya's new peer-to-peer SIP solution, dubbed one-X Quick Edition, certainly grabbed headlines this week, but users could end up drilling their own teeth if they're not careful.

March 13, 2006

4 Min Read

Avaya's new peer-to-peer SIP solution, dubbed one-X Quick Edition, certainly grabbed headlines this week, but users could end up drilling their own teeth if they're not careful. Quick Edition's predictability and availability could suffer because of its unique P2P networking.

One-X Quick Edition was part of Avaya's telecom blitzkrieg announced this week at the VoiceCon show. The technology provides Avaya with a valuable opportunity to expand beyond its enterprise base and address the burgeoning small-business market, the weakest of Avaya's three major technology sectors. The VoiceCon blitz saw Avaya fill critical holes in Communication Manager with version 3.1, while also setting the groundwork for a new approach to application integration, not to mention meeting the needs of the small office.

Communication Manager 3.1 improves Avaya's telephony server resiliency on two fronts. Avaya eliminated the need for a fiber link between two servers in a redundant configuration, relying on Ethernet instead. This move reduces hardware configuration costs and expands architecture choice. Instead of locating both servers within the same premises, the Communication Manager server can now be located on separate sites for higher availability. Cisco has long offered such a capability.

Avaya has also improved Communication Manager's ability to fail over active calls to a backup server by duplicating the IP Media Resource boards in each server. Security has also been improved through the support for Tripwire for Enterprise Linux 4.0, which will now be shipped with all Linux-based Avaya Media Servers.

Vendors are looking to embed VoIP within their enterprise applications to help change the way businesses use communications, and Avaya is no different. To those ends, Avaya upgraded its Avaya SIP Enablement Services, which exposes Avaya's presence server to the rest of presence-based communications over SIP. It also added the new Avaya Application Enablement Services, which delivers a Web services interface for developers to design new applications for a service-oriented architecture. Cisco has released its own SOA interface as well.

Avaya uses SIP Enablement Services to integrate Cisco's SIP phones into Communication Manager. SIP also extends to Avaya's 3.0 release of Modular Messaging, its unified messaging product, to eliminate hardware interface costs while simplifying integration. Avaya has also doubled its SIP capacity to 5,000 trunks. The additional $25-per-seat SIP licensing costs have also been removed. QUICK EDITION

But it was Avaya's one-X Quick Edition that grabbed most of the attention. The P2P SIP technology was acquired last year in the Nimcat Networks deal and allows consumers to purchase specially equipped Avaya phones through e-tailors, plug up to 20 of them into their Ethernet switches, and have the phones locate and configure themselves, providing an easy-to-install telephony network. Call control and voicemail are distributed across the Avaya telephones, with the only other hardware requirement being a small gateway to access the PSTN. Should a phone fail, the user can recover voicemail and other features from backed up images distributed across the other phones in the network. Growth is possible by using the same phones with Communication Manager. Phones are currently available through retail channels and list for $485 to $585.

One-X Quick Edition is currently limited to a single site, but according to Jorge Blanco, vice president of strategic marketing at Avaya, customers can expect Avaya to provide those capabilities across sites.

IMPACT

Yet while Quick Edition may make smart business sense for Avaya, it may not make as much sense for its target audience. While IT will appropriately configure QoS and VLAN settings for VoIP on their networks, that's not likely to be the case with small-business owners. For one thing, they're bound to have networks without either technology deployed. And although most QoS problems will be addressed by the sheer capacity of the 100Mbps switched LAN, given voice's importance to a company, neither SMBs nor Avaya would be wise to rely on sheer bandwidth alone to ensure voice quality and continuity. It's too simple for a combination of file transfers, P2P applications, or other technologies to consume enough bandwidth to compromise VoIP's sound quality. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure the network's suitability for VoIP, whether through technology or, more likely, through documentation, which would work against Quick Edition's message of easy deployment.

What's more, 3Com product manager Greg Zweig suggests that by updating one another, the Quick Edition phones may propagate software errors across the P2P transactions. This might just be the usual vendor FUD, but Tom Petsche, senior product manager in Avaya's converged appliances division, does say all system parameters are shared amongst the phones, not just media files. He was unable to comment at the time as to the security measures Avaya is taking to prevent the corruption of software files.

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