Cisco has a dominant share of the Data Networking Market ( Around 56% worldwide ) .
Avaya on the other hand, has not traditionally been known for Data Networking. This changed in 2009 when Avaya purchased Nortel and acquired a very healthy Data networking portfolio.
You can set up an Avaya network using traditional networking concepts like VLAN trunking and Spanning Tree, but there’s no reason not to take advantage of the IEEE standard 802.1aq or Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) that really makes Avaya Switches stand out.
A quick search for “Cisco vs Avaya” usually yields a plethora of reasons why you should choose Cisco.
Most of the reasons fall along the lines of “Everybody uses Cisco, so you should use Cisco”.
Here are 8 reason why you should buy and deploy Avaya Switches instead of Cisco on your Network.
1) There is No Need For Spanning Tree
Spanning Tree is probably responsible for half of all Network Outages.
In addition to being difficult to configure and maintain, spanning tree prevents network loops by blocking ports, resulting in about 40% of your bandwidth being wasted
Avaya SPBM uses a different loop prevention mechanism, and does away with spanning tree completely.
All the links in your network forward traffic and no bandwidth is wasted.
The best part is that you don’t have to do anything about configuring loop prevention.
It is auto-magically baked into Avaya’s SPBM implementation.
2) They are less expensive
When you deploy an avaya SPBM network, you can use the entry level priced VSP 4000 to get advanced features that can only be found in Cisco’s high end Nexus switches.
So for the price of a Cisco edge switch, you can get the same features (or better) as a Core Cisco switch. Features like multiple VRFs, Overlay networks to extend your data center , VPC (Avaya calls this SMLT) etc.
In pure dollar terms , even the most expensive Avaya switch does not begin to approach the price of comparable Cisco switches.
3) Multicast Deployment is a breeze
Seriously, If you use multicast and it has to travel across multiple network segments, just go ahead and use Avaya SPBM already.
Unless of course you like the slow convergence times of PIM, configuring Rendezvous Points, and tearing out your hair.
Even if you take Avaya’s claim of converging 1,000 times faster than PIM with a grain of salt. There is really no contest.
Multicast configuration with SPBM is easier and it works a lot better.
4) SPBM is easier to configure [than traditional Cisco networking]
Even without understanding the underlying technology, you can have a functional SPBM network up and running in under 15 minutes.
Things like load balancing and loop prevention are handled without explicit configuration.
Any service you configure on one device , can be accessed by any other device in the network, without touching other devices along the path.
As an example, imagine a set of 10 network switches lined up from left to right.
If you were to configure VLAN 20 on the leftmost switch, you could do the same thing on the rightmost switch, and devices on those 2 switches would be on the same VLAN, without you having to touch any of the other 8 switches in the middle.
This magic happens using something called i-sids.
There is also overall reduced complexity in your configuration.
5) You get a lifetime warranty on your hardware
As at the time of this writing, Avaya offers a free lifetime warranty on all their fixed configuration switches ie non modular switches.
You don’t need a support contract. If the switch stops working has hardware defect, they’ll ship you another one.
You do still need a support contract , if you need to get an Engineer to troubleshoot any issues you may be having on your network.
6) Easy to integrate with a Cisco network
Almost every network has multiple Vendor devices. Yours is probably no different.
You can easily integrate an Avaya SPBM network with your existing Cisco network.
Avaya devices support CDP and LLDP.
You can also configure routing using RIP , OSPF or BGP pretty easily.
You can run Etherchannel on the Cisco side and MLT/SMLT on the Avaya side, to bundle multiple Ethernet links.
Now on the part of the network where you connect to Cisco switches, you do have to configure Spanning Tree. The same is true if you are connecting any other non-SPBM capable devices.
7) You get a fantastic GUI
Avaya’s Networking products come standard with a web based UI .
Pretty much any novice network Engineer can easily navigate the UI and make configuration changes .
Of course, if you prefer the command line, you can also manage the devices using a CLI with command pretty similar to what a Cisco Engineer might be used to.
8) The Command Line is easy to learn
An experienced Cisco Engineer should be able to pick up about 60% of what they need to manage an Avaya Data Switch network in one afternoon.
The command syntax and structure is similar to what a Cisco Engineer would already be familiar with and there is always the question mark to help out.
If you are considering deploying Avaya Equipment on your Network, you have probably had a lot of FUD thrown at you. That did not stop the Burj Khalifa and others from deploying them, so it should not stop you either. Make the decision that’s best for your situation.
Note 1: I just read through the post and realized I have used SPB and SPBM interchangeably. That is because they are one and the same, as far as the Avaya implementation is concerned.
If you search on the Avaya website, you’ll find multiple references to “Avaya Fabric” , Fabric connect, Fabric extend etc. They are referring to pretty much the same technology.
Note 2: FUD = Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
Note 3: Avaya Organizes a lot of free 1-2 day workshops on how to configure their Data Network devices.
It may make sense to attend one of these workshops if you are considering buying some Avaya Data Network switches, and you have never used them before.
If you are not able to attend a workshop, I encourage you to buy an Avaya switch or 2 from ebay to help you get familiar with the GUI and CLI.
If you choose the ebay route, you cannot go wrong with an ERS 4850 or VSP 4000.