Avaya and Juniper team up for secure IP telephony

The ability to integrate each others' products is the key to the vendors' new offering. Stephen Lawson reports

Avaya and Juniper Networks have tightened their partnership aimed at bringing security together with the next wave of enterprise telephony.

Avaya will resell Juniper security products alongside its own IP telephony gear and offer integration and support for both, the companies say. Some channel partners of the two vendors will also be able to offer that package, says Lawrence Byrd, director of IP telephony and mobility at Avaya.

Many large enterprises are phasing in IP telephony, but security is the number one concern of IT administrators and has to come into play with any deployment, says Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects, an analyst firm. The Juniper-Avaya partnership is a clear competitive move against Cisco Systems, which provides integrated security and IP telephony capabilities in gear such as the popular ISR (Integrated Services Router) platform for small and medium-sized businesses and branch offices, Dzubeck says. Many in the industry have been expecting a new jointly developed product from Juniper and Avaya that will compete directly with the ISR, he says.

The partners did not announce any new products. Instead, they unveiled the fruits of cooperation and integration work that began in May. As a result of that work, they know Avaya IP telephony gear will work smoothly with Juniper capabilities such as security and WAN optimisation, Byrd says. Among other things, this interoperability can head off problems that IP calls have run into on secured networks, he adds.

“A lot of early firewall products did a lot of damage to voice,” Byrd says. In the process of protecting networks from harmful data packets, firewalls sometimes degraded call quality, he says.

Specifically, the companies want to help enterprises set up distributed IP voice capabilities throughout their facilities worldwide, including branch offices. Using the Juniper products, Avaya can provide for firewalls, VPNs and intrusion detection tools to secure the network while supporting IP calls, Byrd says. The partners can also provide features beyond security, such as WAN optimisation, to make sure there’s enough bandwidth for calls, he says.

With the combined offerings, enterprises can help employees work at home and on the road, as well as distribute call-centre capabilities to multiple offices and even to home-based workers, Byrd says.

Avaya’s 7,000-strong service force, Avaya Global Services, will offer network and security assessments, as well as full service and support for the combined deployments of Juniper and Avaya gear, he says. It can also provide management and maintenance of the networks as a managed service.

Avaya is the biggest threat to Cisco in IP telephony and Juniper is its key rival in high-end routing, so it’s not surprising that they’re taking on Cisco together, Dzubeck says. One thing Cisco doesn’t have is a services organisation that can work with gear from multiple vendors, he says.

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