Avaya end-to-end virtualization solution, isn't

Learn to call a network a network.

It's easy to discount all-encompassing claims by vendors as hyperbole. Even the ones with something to brag about puff things up until it sounds like their copywriter is the same middle-aged, potbellied, pastyfaced guy listed as StudManSurferdude on Match.com

When they're a little too optimistic it just gets confusing.

Like Avaya -- a second-tier PBX and vox networking vendor known better on different continents than this one -- announcing its new "Virtualization Strategy" as an "End-To-End Architecture [that] Simplifies Data Center, Campus Networking."

How you get from end (laptops, smart phones or desktops with virtualized apps, OSes or separated VMs on their hard drives) to end (single-console management and provisioning of hundreds of servers, thousands of VMs, virtual networks, SANs, virtual networks and performance-monitoring connections to SAAS and cloud providers) from a phone company is a puzzle.

Fortunately Avaya isn't as ambitious as its rhetoric. It's offering a set of network interconnections and hardware it calls the Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA), using a newish IEEE spec called the Shortest Path Bridging Standard to build a network fabric that creates short, efficient connections among many virtualized devices.

It's new for Avaya, but it's not the only shot taken at the same goal by major vendors recently.

Others include (thanks to Network World's Jim Duffy's story and encyclopedic knowledge of the topic):

IETF’s Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL);

Cisco’s FabricPath;

Juniper’s Virtual Chassis;

Brocade’s Brocade One and Virtual Cluster Switching architectures;

and the IEEE’s Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregation (VEPA) specification.

A fabric, even one that creates good connections between this point and that, does not constitute an end-to-end virtualization solution. It's an interconnect plan, and one with a lot of competition from vendors who are much better established in the U.S.

The technology may end up being brilliant, but on its debut, at least, Avaya's belief in and descriptions of it are a bit unrealistic.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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