Avaya Data Solutions Gets New CTO, Virtualization Strategy

Full circle for new CTO, as former Nortel tech unit comes under new leadership and gets a new virtual focus for real results.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Nov 12, 2010
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Avaya's Data Solutions unit is getting new leadership and a new vision for virtualization this week.

William 'Bill' Seifert is coming home to Avaya. Seifert was named the new CTO for Avaya Data Solutions, the former Nortel enterprise business unit that Avaya acquired in 2009 for $475 million.

In 1986, Seifert founded and was CTO of networking vendor Wellfleet Communications. Wellfleet merged with Synoptics to form Bay Networks in 1992, which in turn was acquired by Nortel in 1999.

"This business, Avaya Data Solutions, is the same business I started almost 25 years ago," Seifert said.

Seifert noted that in his view, what the Avaya Data Solutions business needs is more entrepreneurial spirit, as well as a focus on matching technologies, both current and future, with what customers are saying they need.

"At the end of the day, if people don't buy it, it doesn't really matter what you do," Seifert said.

One of the things that enterprise IT managers are buying into is virtualization technologies. To that end, Avaya this week announced a new virtualization strategy called the Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA).

"The purpose of VENA is to simplify the configuration, operation, and management of virtualization throughout an enterprise network," Seifert said. "We have virtualized the network much like VMware has virtualized the data center."

VENA will leverage industry standards including the IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging Standard. With VENA, Siefert noted that Avaya is building on the past efforts of Nortel to expand enterprise network virtualization. The VENA platform includes hardware, as well as software tools for managing virtualization.

Nortel had been rolling out virtualization-focused networking gear since at least 2008.

"This is a culmination of the last two years of effort, starting originally at Nortel and now coming out of Avaya," Siefert said. "It is now time to talk about it as the pieces have finally come together. It's a lot of different things including hardware, software, and firmware."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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