The virtualized product comes in a couple of flavors. Customers can choose to run Aura as a software-only virtual appliance, in which the program can run on Avaya hardware or existing infrastructure that customers may already have that has been certified to support Aura. Barnett says a wide variety of server blades from companies such as IBM and HP commonly support Aura. Avaya also sells its own blades and server racks, which can come prepackaged with networking, storage and UC software loaded on what Avaya calls its "Collaboration Pod." Avaya expects the Pod, which was announced earlier this year at VMworld, will be available starting later this year or early next year.
Avaya's virtualized Aura platform requires infrastructure that is dedicated to UC functions, so other non-communication applications cannot also run on the servers in which the virtualized UC platform runs, Barnett says. It's priced on a per user model and most existing customers can upgrade to a virtualized platform for about $100 per user, while new platforms will run between $250 and $600 per user based on the number of features included, Avaya says.
Customers can choose to run all or some of the UC applications on the new virtualized platform. A business could, for example, roll out a communications manager and session manager on virtualized equipment, but not the entire system manager. This "mix and match" functionality is a differentiator between Avaya and competitors, Barnett says.
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Virtualization of communication services is the "next big wave" in virtualization, because of the efficiencies virtualized equipment provides users, Barnett says. Having integration with VMware also allows the Aura platform to take advantage of VMware tools, such as vMotion, he says. In this scenario, a UC manager would be able to install updates, fix a broken VM in the stack or provide maintenance to the system without bringing it offline by simply migrating applications from running on one VM to another. Avaya's goal, he says, is to provide a zero downtime environment.