Avaya and Extreme partner on convergence gear, services

Avaya Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc. announced a multi-year partnership agreement on Tuesday that will see the firms work in unison to deliver converged, IP-based products and services.

The alliance looks to leverage Avaya’s IP telephony expertise with Extreme’s data networking strengths. Products currently offered by the firms include Avaya’s Multivantage Communications Applications and its converged security and media gateways and servers, and Extreme’s BlackDiamond and Alpine switches.

The aim is to offer customers an integrated set of products as they move towards more converged networks that will see the movement of different types of traffic over the same IP wires, such as voice, video and data traffic.

As part of the agreement, Avaya will sell, service and support the entire line of Extreme products. Avaya Global Services will provide customers of both firms with a variety of services, including network assessment and optimization, security and business continuity planning and deployment services.

Mickey Tsui, vice-president and general manager for Avaya’s Converged Systems division, said existing customers of both companies will have nothing to worry about in terms of how the agreement affects their investments going forward. Customers should feel “very, very good about this (agreement) because that would mean that the future joint development (between the two firms) will give them a more enhanced solution going forward.”

In their announcement, the firms stressed that they will be developing open, standards-based products in the areas of quality of service, security and network resiliency, among other areas. This, they say, will allow IT departments to have flexibility in their product purchasing decisions and not be locked into one vendor’s offerings as they build out their converged networks.

“What we’re doing here is providing a very superior alternative to some of those so-called end-to-end solutions that don’t necessarily deliver that level of value that people may have thought when they originally made the purchase,” said Duncan Potter, vice-president of corporate marketing for Extreme.

Potter said openness is the way for customers to go in the era of convergence.

“If you look at what people like the Gartner Group have been saying, they’ve been saying very clearly that you must evaluate alternatives rather than just go with what might seem to be the only choice at this stage.”

Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst with McGee-Smith Analytics in Pittstown, N.J., said the agreement will allow Avaya to make a stronger case for its converged gear when it offers it to customers because Extreme’s data expertise enhances its offerings in this area.

“Data managers who have their voice people come to them wanting to deploy Avaya (convergence) gear say, ‘I don’t want that, you’re causing trouble for me.'” Now, with Extreme’s data gear expertise added to the overall portfolio, that problem is alleviated, she said.

While the agreement will at the outset involve the joint marketing of existing Avaya and Extreme products, the firms will also develop new convergence products in the future. A timetable for those new offerings has not been finalized, Avaya’s Tsui told IT World Canada.

For more information, see www.avaya.com and www.extremenetworks.com.

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