Avaya rolls out wireless 802.11 controllers

Avaya Inc. has announced wireless local-area network (WLAN) controllers, access points and management software designed to integrate wired and wireless networks.

The 8100 series WLAN controllers have separate data and control planes and support up to 512 access points using the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11n standard, which was ratified last summer.

This is “arguably the first integrated wired-wireless system out there,” said Zeus Kerravala, senior vice-president of Cambridge, Mass.-based Yankee Group Research Inc.

Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya announced the 8100 series at the Interop industry conference in Las Vegas.

“We are changing the way customers will be deploying wireless in the future,” said Jean Turgeon, general manager of Avaya Data Solutions.

Included in the 8100 series are four wireless controllers, three access points and management software. Features of the software include a tool that identifies good locations for access points, a configuration tool, monitoring and reporting.

The controllers include security and quality of service features.

Kerravala said other vendors have been working on combining wireless and wired products but none have progressed as far as Avaya. Cisco Systems Inc. has not “fully integrated” its wired and wireless line, while Aruba Networks Inc. focuses only on wireless, he said.

The 8100 series access points can communicate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and comply with IEEE 802.11a, b,g and n.

802.11n supports speeds of more than 100 Megabits per second (Mbps). 802.11a works on the 5 GHz and has a theoretical maximum speed of 54 Mbps. 802.11g has the same maximum speed but works on 2.4 GHz, while 802.11b works on 2.4 GHz but with a maximum speed of only 11 Mbps.

On Monday, Avaya also announced a session initiation protocol (SIP) device, the Advanced Gateway 2330. It works with Avaya’s 9600 series IP phones, plus the Aura communications server. Aura, which uses SIP to allow voice products from different vendors to communicate with each other, is a server loaded with the Linux operating system, with two Avaya software packages: Session Manager and Communications Server. Avaya eventually plans to let Aura customers build their own private branch exchanges (PBXs) by putting Avaya telecom software on their own servers, but for the time being Aura is based on a Linux server tested by Avaya.

In case the IP wide-area network fails, it can provide voice services over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). While it can support up to 10,000 IP phone users, it can also support up to 100 PSTN lines if the WAN files, Turgeon said.

Avaya also unveiled Ethernet Routing Switch 8800 series. ERS is a product line Avaya inherited when it bought the enterprise assets of Nortel Networks Corp.

Toronto-based Nortel, which has lost money nearly every year since 1998, filed for court protection from creditors in January, 2009. For the past year, Nortel has been selling off business assets.

Nortel sold its optical networking and metro Ethernet unit to Ciena Corp. late last year.

Also in 2009, Nortel sold its carrier wireless assets to Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson of Sweden.

When Avaya acquired Nortel’s data networking products, company officials said at the time Avaya plans to keep the Nortel Ethernet Routing Switch products and add Nortel’s Agile Communications Environment to Avaya Aura.

Avaya has “a good chance of being successful” with Nortel’s data networking products, Kerravala said.

“People forget that the cumulative installed base for nortel equipment about 10 per cent of overall market,” he said. “While it’s not Cisco, it’s still a significant chunk of the market.”

He added Nortel had good technology but was not adept at taking the capabilities of its products and marketing them as features that business users want.

“As crappy as they were in marketing, they were always good at engineering,” he said of Nortel. “Many industry watchers, and I was one of them, had left the data business of Nortel for dead.”

The Avaya ERS 8800 series, designed for campus installations, is basically an “evolution of the ERS 8600” switch, Turgeon said. Designed to support video applications and virtualization, the 8800 series has 150 per cent more memory than 8600 switches but use 33 per cent less power.

Avaya, which focuses on the enterprise market, was spun off from Lucent Technologies Inc. (formerly the Bell Labs manufacturing unit of AT&T Corp.) 10 years ago. Lucent merged with Alcatel SA of France in April, 2006.

With the former Nortel products, Avaya is one vendor that provides an alternative to Cisco, Kerravala said. Other alternatives of note include Juniper Networks Inc., Hewlett Packard Development Company LP and Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Kerravala said.

Brocade bought Foundry Networks Inc. in 2008 and earlier this month, HP closed its acquisition of 3Com Corp.

“There are many, many more options than just Cisco today,” Kerravala said.


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