The Avaya plan differs from Cisco's one-box strategy in that Avaya's box is purely a switch, while Cisco's is a chassis containing a switch, servers, storage and applications.
Avaya breathes new life into Nortel enterpriseAvaya has little choice but to present a limited offer because it lacks the other components among its assets. Until it bought Nortel last year the company described itself as a communications software specialist, but the purchase brought along Nortel's collection of networking gear, including the in-development VSP 9000.
Now with the switch in customer trials prepping for release, Avaya is making a virtue out of its approach and finding fault with Cisco's "toaster box" solution -- as Avaya's vice president and general manager of data solutions Steven Bandrowczak calls Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS).
Bandrowczak says UCS doesn't provide customers with the same flexibility that a multi-vendor data center infrastructure does. For its part, Cisco says its UCS architecture improves management, energy efficiency and the need for peripheral gear.
But Bandrowczak says the right way to approach data center design is by analyzing all the applications then fine-tuning the rest of the infrastructure to make them perform optimally. "You don't make a data center decision based on a box," he says. "It starts with your application, and you look for the optimal environment for running that application."
He says Avaya is focused on the infrastructure piece of the equation, and leaves the rest up to other vendors, allowing customers to pick and choose among products that best fit their particular needs. For instance, Bandrowczak says CIOs tweak their data center infrastructure to fit the demands of their applications, which can mean tinkering with memory, CPUs and types of storage to boost performance -- which can be done better if customers deal with vendors specializing in that kind of gear.
That means dealing with more vendors, something customers may wish to avoid. Still, Avaya has absolutely no interest in supporting other key elements of a broad data center strategy such as applications, servers, storage and databases, Bandrowczak says; it's sticking with the VSP 9000.