Avaya brings virtualization to Aura

Software companies continue to convert their applications to run in virtualized environments, the latest being Avaya Inc. and its Aura unified communications suite.

Avaya said version 6.2 of Aura is now called Aura Virtualized Environment (VE), with six of its applications certified to run under VMware and more coming next year.

It is available as a free software download – organizations pay for user licences – for those who want to run in on their own servers, as a turnkey server with software or as part of a Collaboration Pod, which includes virtualized storage and networking.

“We look at this as a big step forward,” said Tac Berry, an Avaya product manager. “We see this as a great opportunity for our existing customers to migrate to the latest Avaya Aura. But it’s also an opportunity for new customers who have VMware today but who haven’t made the decision to go to a full UC-capable solution. This allows them to do it without having to buy more hardware.”

It also opens opportunities for Avaya system integrators to come up with tailor-made solutions for organizations, he added. Partners can also sell Aura feature sets, such as mobility, which are extras.

Aura VE can run in data centre environments alongside standard Aura deployments. Berry said it installs on a server through VMware vCenter “in minutes.”

Core applications that run under VE include Communications Manager (the suites foundation); Session Manager (the SIP-based architecture); Application Enablement Services (ASE, which provides developer interfaces); Presense Services; Agile Communications Environment (ACE, which links to desktop and other business process applications) and Call Center Elite.

“Early next year” Conferencing 7 and Aura Flare (a mobile collaboration app) for VE will be released, Berry said.

Zeus Kerravala, principal of ZK Research, said “a lot of (UC) vendors have done this” already – including Cisco Systems Inc. But, he added, Avaya isn’t late in virtualizing Aura. In fact, he said, a lot of Avaya customers are running on older platforms and it’s a challenge to get them to upgrade to Aura. This may help. In addition, he said, running virtual call centres is an approach that’s still young.

Aura VE means organizations can save money by testing it on spare servers, then make it live when ready. It can also help in disaster recovery by making a more resilient UC system.

Berry said Aura VE takes advantage of traditional Aura strengths, including Session Manager’s redundancy and Communications Manager’s survivable core, and leverages VMware’s capabilities, including the ability to move Session Manager virtual machines during active calls and high availability (if a primary virtual machine fails it automatically moves to a backup server.)

Aura VE isn’t certified for Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Berry said that will depend on customer demand.

Aura VE is for large installations. Avaya has a virtualized version for up to 2,400 users called Aura Solution For Mid-Sized Enterprises, sold with an HP ProLiant DL server and which is certified for the open source Xen hypervisor.

Licencing for the VE version is the same as for the standard versions of Aura – that is, it is based on the number of users plus certain features.

One reason why Avaya is doing this now, Berry said, is that the company is increasingly seeing UC virtualization as a requirement in requests for proposals and quotes than in the past.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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