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Virtualize Telecom System? Not Yet...

Avaya has announced that the Aura System Platform will be available as a virtualized solution. In a way, this is a big deal for those of us who have had issues with across-the-board virtualization. If you have provided infrastructure services to an organization with a call center or a large telecommunications footprint, you know that virtualization adoption has been rather painful in this space.

In my virtualization practice, if a vendor doesn't support virtualization you don't even try to go there. It is very painful to pass on virtualizing a system that you know will do fine simply because a blanket vendor support statement requires a physical server.

I am mixed on the news related to the Avaya Aura System Platform. I don't use the product, but like the direction this space is going. My issue is that I see this as black box virtualization. Barring no issues, telecom vendors would provide servers and other components as simply black boxes. However, customers need access to provide various levels of support to critical systems that support call centers or line of business revenue streams. Further, these solutions are computers and are subject to compliance requirements among other things. The end result is that even though these systems are purpose-built and may be provided by a vendor, infrastructure and application teams have to deal with these like they would many other systems.

The Aura solution is based on Xen virtualization and uses a specific configuration of standard server equipment that has been certified by Avaya. This means you cannot role it into your larger virtualized environment of Citrix or any other virtualization platform. This is part of my dislike of black box virtualization, as this appeals to me less than dedicated hardware for the applications. This is another layer of abstraction that may complicate the customer’s troubleshooting responsibilities, especially with Xen-based hypervisors.

To be fair, it is difficult to make broad support statements for systems like this. Prior experience as a software solutions provider has told me that it is nearly impossible to make blanket supportability statements when the customer gets involved in architecting solutions for critical applications.

While this is a step in the good direction for one of the more difficult areas to virtualize, I'm not too excited about this news. Share your comments below or drop me an e-mail.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 10/13/2009 at 12:47 PM


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