At the core of Avaya's unified communications and collaboration portfolio is its Aura platform. While Aura has been available on dedicated hardware and as software, Avaya is now extending the platform with a virtual edition running in an engineered collaboration pod.
The Avaya Collaboration Pod is a combination of Avaya software and hardware, together with technology from VMware and EMC. The Collaboration Pod is an extension of Avaya's virtualization strategy and the Aura Virtualized Edition (VE) that was first announced in December of 2012.
Aura VE enables enterprises to consolidate and condense multiple servers into a virtualized VMware environment, as Randy Cross, director of product management at Avaya, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet.
Going a step beyond just running Aura on VMware, however, Avaya has also developed a management tool called the Pod Orchestration Suite for the Collaboration Pod.
"The Pod Orchestration Suite is a combination of existing tools we had across the Avaya infrastructure and application teams," Cross said. "We then created some new functionality to create an integrated view of everything in the stack."
The core idea is to enable an application-driven solution that can be managed with a "single pane of glass." The Pod Orchestration Suite enables administrators to provision, operate, and maintain an Aura deployment from the application layer all the way through the infrastructure.
The Collaboration Pod includes VMware vSphere ESXi as the underlying virtualization engine. As for hardware, the pod includes Lenovo RD530 rack servers with up to 16 cores of compute power. There is also an EMC VNX 5300 unified storage array for backup space, messaging, and call recording. The Avaya G450 Gateway for Digital Signal Processing and PSTN connectivity as well as the Avaya Session Border Controller are also integrated with the Collaboration Pod.
From a networking perspective, the Avaya VSP 7000 switch sits in the pod as a top-of-rack switch. The VSP 7000 is Avaya's flagship top-of-rack switch and was first announced in May of 2011 as a high-performance 10 GbE switch.
The entire Collaboration Pod is delivered in an Avaya-branded enclosure. Cross noted that an enterprise only gets one invoice as all the various components of the solution are resold via Avaya.
The Collaboration Pod is not intended to replace existing non-VMware virtualized Aura deployments, but rather to offer a choice to users.
"We still have the availability of Aura system platform which is the server version," Cross said. "We try to give people choices in order to meet whatever their needs are."