November 12, 2010, 11:46 AM — Avaya this week unveiled software enhancements to its switches designed to allow users to optimize the network for business applications and services through virtualization.
Avaya's Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) is a software enhancement to Avaya's 8600, 8800 and VSP 9000 Ethernet switches that supports the emerging IEEE 802.1AQ Shortest Path Bridging standard for deploying multiple active paths in a data center switching fabric. Shortest Path Bridging is an extension to the Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol that uses a link state routing protocol to allow switches to learn the shortest paths through an Ethernet fabric and dynamically adjust to topology changes.
Also read: Our interview with Avaya CEO Kevin Kennedy
Avaya says VENA also includes tools for management of a virtualized environment and will be an integral feature of new switches coming from the vendor.
Several other vendors are also optimizing their switches for virtual data centers by supporting techniques that will allow them to configure multiple active paths in the network fabric for the scale and resiliency required for large-scale virtual machine deployments. Such techniques include the IETF's Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), Cisco's FabricPath, Juniper's Virtual Chassis and Brocade's Brocade One and Virtual Cluster Switching architectures. Extreme has also unveiled a blueprint for virtualization-optimized switching that includes support for the IEEE's Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregation (VEPA) specification.
"The vision that all of them are working towards is how to transform the network to better support virtualization," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at The Yankee Group. But with or without standards, "we'll see customers deploy vendor-specific fabrics anyway."
For those that choose Avaya's VENA, they'll be able to configure a 'Virtual Services Fabric' that Avaya says enables one-touch provisioning of network services. This is intended to create a 'private cloud' that simplifies access to content and applications. It is also designed to eliminate human error in manual provisioning or adding, deleting or changing applications in a virtualized environment.