Avaya switch primed for convergence

Avaya Inc. has unveiled a backbone switch with twice the capacity of its previous high-end offering, plus upgraded software for prioritizing network traffic. The combination is aimed at companies building converged voice and data networks.

The Cajun P882 switch, which made its debut at ComNet 2001 in Washington, D.C., boasts 128 gigabit Ethernet ports, twice as many as are supported in Avaya’s former top-of-the-line box, the Cajun P880. It also includes 768 10/100Mbps ports for connecting PCs, servers and the new breed of IP-enabled PBXs, gateways and phones that are coming into use.

The switch could be used, for instance, to tie an IP-enabled Definity PBX into a data network for unified voice/e-mail messaging applications. The P882 could also extend a PBX connection to remote or branch offices via IP, or connect offices with their own IP voice servers into a backbone network.

“We like the Cajun [P882] switches for their scalability, and especially for their high density of gigabit ports,” said Matt Thomas, lead engineer at Novell Inc.’s SuperLab testing facility.

Thomas said he will use four P882s to replace P880s in the lab, where customers’ networks are simulated for testing Novell products. The high number of gigabit ports in the P882 and the 129Gbps of overall throughput will let Thomas pump simulated traffic through his test LAN more quickly, he said.

The P882, which costs US$24,000, will compete with Cisco Systems Inc.’s Catalyst 6500 series switches, Extreme Networks Inc.’s Black Diamond, Foundry Network Inc.’s BigIron and the recently announced X-Pedition 16ER from Enterasys. Only Extreme bests the P882 in gigabit port density, and equals the P882’s 10/100 port capacity.

Avaya will also announce the latest version of its policy management software, Cajun Rules Policy Manager 2.0. The US$10,000 software runs on Solaris or Windows NT workstations and can be used to give priority or better quality of service to certain kinds of traffic – such as voice, e-mail and HTTP traffic.

New features include support for the entire Cajun switch line, and use of common information model technology for interacting with devices and software from other vendors.

Since Avaya broke off from Lucent in October, the company’s call centre wares and its traditional and IP voice products have been viewed by observers as its core business focus, with data products being somewhat of an afterthought. The release of the new flagship Cajun switch, along with the company’s recent acquisition of VPN start-up VPNet, affirms its commitment to the data communications market, executives say.

The Lucent spin-off will have its work cut out for it to make a play in the enterprise data realm. In the third quarter of 2000, Avaya accounted for just 1.5 per cent of Layer 2 and Layer 3 Ethernet port shipments worldwide, according to Dell’Oro Group.

For more information, see Avaya on the Web at www.avaya.com.