I have a deployed Cisco Call Manager in place. Although there were some headaches at first it has really stabalized.
Unfortunately my voice guys are trying to push the Avaya IP Telephony system. Allegedly the Avaya people are willing to replace our existing Cisco base(50-100 users) at no cost. While I am dubious of this I have no way of disproving them.
What I would like to know is if anyone knows of a good independent source that examines the 2 systems? I know virtually nothing about the Avaya system. I do know it is not as mature as the Cisco prodcut. However if I could find specifics this would make my life as I have no desire to have to spend long periods of time working on the Avaya product.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks
I haven't seen any products as mature as the Cisco solution. It seems to me most of the competitive products are kind of IP/PBX breeds. The phones may be IP, but the back-end is PBX. There are way too many reasons (imho) to go Cisco to list. I would suggest calling your Cisco AM or Cisco Partner and telling them. It might get you a discount as well. Anyway, here are some things to start with:
1. LCD display that you can customize and program to using standards-based .asp, java, and .xml
2. In-line power
3. Standards based system that keeps development from 3rd parties very open (phones, W2K/SQL based CallManager, etc...). PBX tend to be very proprietary.
4. Expandabilty is easy, you just drop a phone in (heck, drop ten in, move them around, no big deal, nothing to punch down or program)
5. Centralized call processing for small/medium remote sites (and I may not have to add any equipment out there)
This is just a short list. Feel free to e-mail me on the specifics you want.
Just to play Devils Advocate here
1). Avaya phones have a real browser not a cut down XML version
2). Standards Based in-line power not a propriatary version like Cisco
3). Cisco - Standards based where needed, but propr. in others - Avaya the same.
4). Same as Cisco though admittedly not as large an IP only system can be built.
5). Centralised call proccessing same as Cisco but can support ALL system features in SRST mode not just a cut down view.
6) MANY MANY more features than Cisco, and don't give me the "but people only use a few features" argument, I like Call back when Free / Next Used - Cisco HELLO!!!!
You can not say that one particular is overall better than another, Cisco has lead the way in IP telephony but will not always do so. The AVAYA solution is Very good and a strong contender for the crown of IP King. Cisco has a lead in the installed switching and routing Market and that is buying them time in pole position but they can not afford to rest on their laurels.
IMHO Cisco need to get their act together when it comes to delivering features, otherwise the traditional guys are going to speed on past. Don't forget it's easier for the traditional guys to migrate old systems because they built them in the first place. End users do not like change especially when it comes with fewer features.
I learned a long time ago not to get on any one vendors bandwagon, so you won't offend me with anything above, but I do have some questions.
1. How big is the screen in order to do browsing, does the phone look like Cisco's?
2. The in-line power (802.3af) is not standard yet, and Cisco is actually waiting to come out with their 3550 series switch until it is fully ratified. At that point, I assume that the phones will handle it.
3. Many of the PBX/IP solutions that I have seen (other than Avaya) still have that completely proprietary PBX on the backend that you can't do anything with. At least with CallManager I can make SQL calls and manage it as a W2K server. What does the Avaya platform run on? Server based?
5. For the SRST equivalent, what equipment is out at the remote site? Key system?
6. Yes, Cisco seems to have the least amount of the features, no question there.
Hopefully (from a job security standpoint), all of these systems will converge somewhat so that you and I aren't locked into one technology. With that being said, I am truly interested Avaya's solution.
We have a Avaya 4602 in the office and it does indeed have a large color touch screen.
I am sure that the Avaya system is solid. Here are my concerns with it though.
1. It is my understanding that their true centralized distributed call manager product is pretty new. From what I have read the ECLIPS line was released in May. I know that Avaya has had a VOIP system in place for some time but I am worried that this new iteration is a little immature.
2. Does the Avaya system still basically require me to have a PBX? Will it work with a router, specifically a Cisco router? What functionality do I lose?
Let's face it telecomms is a safe industry to be in .... Just ask the boys at Worldcom :-)
But back to the topic in hand.
1. It's big thugh not ugly, and as has already been said it's a touch screen. (Mitels big display phone is Soooooo UGLY and is likely to give you skin damage if you look at it too much, it's that bright)
2. Yes it is a standard, But the thing is standards based power means you use anyones phone the cisco way means you are locked in. The 3550 may support standards based but what about all those poor suckers who bought 3524-pwrs.
3. The Avaya kit has no PBX in sight. It is all IP, there is a Shelf type thing which basically acts like a firewall for the servers but everything is IP not a TDM backplane insight. The Avaya platform is UNIX based (big cheers from the open source boys) though it is a locked down config (Boooo) and only runs on specific servers but then so did CM when it first came out.
5. The Avaya solution for remote sites is based around one of their routers/switch combo boxes with a specific proccessor for voice. And before anyone starts saying "see...propriatary kit" SRST from Cisco only runs on their routers with a specific image.
There are pluses to both platforms and AVAYA probably have the most complete competition to Cisco. If you get the chance to see a demo on the AVAYA IP range it's well worth a look, even if it's just to know what you are competing against, because I think it's a strong opposition.
I'm not an expert in this - so someone correct me if i'm wrong - but browsing through the inline power standard - I haven't seen evidence that the 3524's couldn't be code refitted for standards-based power - now if the hardware itself can't support it that's it i guess - but i'm not sure if anyone has addressed that - has Cisco actually acknowledged the 3524's would take actual hardware as opposed to protocol changes to fix?
If so that'd be good info to know - I miss a lot of that stuff somehow :-)
This seems to indicate that the 3524-pwr will be replaced with something that does support the standard. It doesn't say the 3524-pwr is going to be end of lifed but it does say that something else supporting the standard will be released.
Reading between the lines it's going to support both types of in-line power which must point to an eos for the 3524-pwr.
Hm - unfortunately I'm an end user not a partner so I have no access to that link :-) But I don't doubt that the existing power standard will be EOL'd...
However - the question I was raising is will the 3524's themselves be EOL'ed as supported inline power - or will they be able to make code changes to allow the 3524's to adapt to the ratified standard.
Basically, it gets to someone who can tell us what the fundamental differences are between the ratified standard and Cisco's existing inline power (different voltage? Different cable pairs? different negotiation?)
The last one almost certainly could be fixed with code - but the question is does the hardware in the 3524 have the potential to adjust voltages or pair output etc if necessary based on software commands - I'd be surprised - but these were my questions :-)
I don't think it is about whether the 3524 is capable, I don't think it matters. The old 35xx series has been EOL'ed and the 3524-PWR will be as well as soon as the 3550-24-PWR comes out. With that in mind, I doubt if Cisco is even entertaining the thought about retrofitting the 3524 to support the standard.
Well - I agree it may not matter in terms of whether it get's EOL'ed - I'm sure it will - but I think it does make a big difference in how we plan current hardware acquisitions which of the existing inline power products if any can keep up with whatever Cisco decrees the next supported version to be (presumably the ratified standard).
As per my previous post - if the solution is hardware changes then no I wouldn't expect it - but if it is a software change I don't see any particular reason why they might not consider it - remember - basically any IP Phone infrastructure which isn't hung off a 4k or 6k box or powered patch panel runs on these things (or someone has a lot of phone power blocks).
It is also possible that the hardware and logic of the 4k blades (and possibly the 6k blades newer 4.5k chassis) are designed similarly. They may not be - but again without an in-depth look at the specs from a guru out there I can only guess at whether converting to ratified specs on these boxes would involve less or more work - you have to believe if they all suffer from the same unsolvable issue that would be a hard sell to have to EOL all existing inline power modules - then I guess the folks that went with power cubes would have the temporary laughing rights - as long as their edge building power didn't ever fail :-) What about the 4200 series? Possibly the same issue there?
Obviously I'm not privy to the percent of AVVID installs who depend on which inline power products but without that knowledge I can only guess that at least some of the products above are designed similarly on the power supply end...
I have no doubt the 3524 will EOL as soon as a 3550 has inline power - that makes sense - the question is whether an inability to convert the 3524's to ratified power would also indicate that at least some of the other existing catalyst devices would be in trouble...if so which ones? Perhaps the chassis units and the 4200's are fundamentally different - wouldn't surprise me - just can't find any docs that tell me what to expect :-)
Having said that I again note I have no reason for believing Cisco will be able to fix this with code - I'm just hoping to hear one way or the other from them :-)
I am still buying 3524's quite regularly and am about to order more - it'd sure be nice to know if I needed to hold up for the 3550's or whether given 6 or seven months they feel they'll be able to push ratified specs to the existing catalyst line :-)
An interesting discussion at any rate...
Mgr Network Services
The Cisco IP Telephony Users Group
If you are just asking about the 35xx series specifically, I can't give you any dates (because I don't know them).
What I can tell you is that my current understanding is we will release something like a 3550-24-PWR (not sure about the model number at this point) that will support 802.3af and Cisco inline power. Last I heard, that is planned for sometime next year -- presumably it will be shortly after 802.3af is actually ratified by IEEE.
The 4200 series has already gone end of sale, due to the ability to fit modules into the 2600 to do pretty much the same job.
As for the 3524-pwr I wouldn't have thought it was a software fix to update the unit as the power is delivered over different pairs in the 802.3af standard though I do accept there is a revision for mid-span injection to be ratified later.
As much as my comments on this thread make me appear anti-cisco I'm not I just think that it's foolish to discount anybody elses offering before looking at them fully.
So whoever voted me down can get off their high horse
I read with interest the post about MOH over WAN, a good argument but not the most compelling. It is a good one and should be used along side all of the other high points of the Cisco offering, but at the end of the day if the customer prefers the colour of the oppositions boxes then they will buy it and no amount of shouting "we're standards based" is going to help, because they can shout it too.
This might point you to have a look to your problem from a little bit different angle:
On my opinion it is a BIG TAKS to compare CISCO and AVAYA from the prospect of apple-to-apple comparison on functionality and specific features-implementations. There are always pros and cons.
But there is some place where I believe you can get AVAYA on their knees:
If there is any type of WAN networking or any type of routing involved, AVAYA is very heavily relaying on CISCO. And the good example is Music on Hold over WAN, especially when you want to do it using Multicasting º - AVAYA does not support MOH via Multicasting ¡V it is always unicast.
SO you can imagine if you have 30 handsets over WAN and MOH server trying to stream 30 unicast sessionsº.
Taking this into consideration I believe CISCO solution has much greater level of integration into ¡§full networking picture¡¨ in comparison with AVAYA.
On my opinion you need to have a look to the point where Networking is involved and to find some advantages for you to keep higher level of integration.
First of all, Avaya has 2 IP PBX products, the IP Office and S8XXX series with MultiVantage (Definity Release 11) software. The IP Office is an SME solution with some QSIG trunking integration with MultiVantage. The following relates to the MultiVantage solution.
A significant networking consideration when comparing Cisco CallManager with Avaya MultiVantage is Call Admission Control. As far as I undersand the Avaya MultiVantage Gatekeeper, there is no real way to limit the number of simultaneous calls between sites where there are only IP Phones (or to and from such a site to the Call Server site) to a specific number. In a multiple site configuration, where there are low bandwidth links, this QoS method is essential inorder to prevent Voice from cannabalising Voice.
A second remark concerning features, Cisco is begining to bring features such as call back onto their system as XML applets. This means that the 7910 phones cannot use them. It also impacts the RSTS features. Avaya reliably supports all 525 features.
Third, the Avaya Integrated Stackable Telephony Solution (ITST) is an integrated, 8 Gigabit backbone switching stack into which the S8700 server or G700 chassis fully integrates. (802.3af) Power over Ethernet is supported to the phones. No questions about standards. The Visability software suit allows an end to end single management interface for the whole of the converged network. This is an equivalent solution to the Cisco AVVID architecture. Only routing is questionable on the native Avaya platform but all Stadards based QOS is supported.
Finally, the Avaya MultiVantage fully supports splitting the Call Control signalling from the Speech signaling. This means the a road warrior can use a softphone for call control with full functionality (including Call Center Agents with monitoring) to any endpoint, analog line, GSM, etc.. which supports a voice call. For homeworking and roadwarriors, this feature can be very interesting if the Internet QoS is deemed unreliable.
Cisco is indeed leveraging their significant presence in the Layer 2 & 3 arena to push theie way into the application layer but Avaya have been doing telephony for quite some time (from Bell Labs through Lucent to Avaya, some 75 years and they know telephony). Cisco has a very strong infrastructure and can transport their application flawlessly, it is the application itself that is lacking in telephony features. (Think about Intuity/Audix unified messaging which is integrated into the Avaya solution against Cisco's Unity (No fax server) or a Gateway solution to a 3rd party VM.)
It really depends on which point of view is most important to your company's bottom line, telephony features or network. convergence
Some great comments by everyone. Let me see if I can sum up what people seem to be saying here.
1. Due to Cisco's proprietary inline power mechanisms a firm that has a deployed inline powered switches from Cisco(ie 3524 PWR) would need to either provide external power to the phone or swap out the switches.
2. The Avaya product is feature rich in comparison to the Cisco product line. While Cisco is trying to catch up this is clearly the biggest advantage that Avaya has.
3. From an architectual standpoint both products have advantages over the other. Neither has a compelling advantage though.
4. The new Avaya phones are considerably better than the 7960 and other Cisco phones although Cisco is due to release new phones in the not too distant future.
Have I missed anything?
I have the fortune or misfortune of being responsible for both the phone and network infrastructure for our company. I have tried both systems and their are pros and cons to both as many people have already stated.
I am curious though about what you presently have. I don't recall you mentioning what your current voice platform is and whether you plan to junk it and/or integrate it with the Avaya or Cisco solution.
We have a mishmash of Voice PBX in place now, although mostly Lucent and NEC. We are slowly migrating to a VOIP system. We currently have an AVVID deployment to several branches. We are completely Cisco in our infrastructure. One would think there isn't much to debate on this.
Unfortunately our voice guy is an Avaya guy through and through. Avaya is telling him that they would swap out our existing VOIP infrastructure for no cost. So he is forcing me to spend an undue amount of time examining a replacement product eventhough we are generally happy with our existing platform.
The chances of him succeeding in replacing the Cisco stuff is pretty small but I need to know as much about the Avaya product as I can, since I really don't know much about it.
Well that's useful information. If you're not looking for unbiased external sources of comparison - and instead are happy with your integration and looking to keep it - I strgonly suggest you do what you probably already have which is immediately alert your account manager what is going on and tell him to help you save the ship - remember it's his ship too. I've never had an AM at cisco that wouldn't eat a situation like this up.
Obviously this isn't advice for people looking to have independent analysis - but if avaya is willing to cut you favors - tell Cisco. You better believe they'll cut favors if they at all can to match.
As far as the voice guy being Avaya - not really a problem - presuming he just prefers Avaya on a VoIP to VoIP level - if he just prefers Avaya because he has lots of experience in TDM - he'll find that's a lousy reason to select a VoIP vendor (not that Avaya is a horrid choice - (not the best one - yeah probably :-) it's just that experience with TDM has not proven in my experience to make much difference in ability to truly deliver on the challeneges involved with VoIP.
Let us know how it turns out :-)
You mentioned your voice guys are trying to push the Avaya solution. Is this because they have existing Avaya equipment they'd like to keep knowledge useful for - or did Avaya just come in and get aggressive in marketing?
In the long term- I would predict that companies will find that cowing to the voice side preferences will probably result in slightly less pain up front - but a lot less pain later.
This is not to say specifically Cisco will be better long term than Avaya (though I have very personal opinions that lean in that direction) - but companies that maintain a conflict between their voice and networking people will be in for some trouble in the next few years as even the avaya's of the world are having to make their gear run over the network - so it may be :-) either get Cisco in up front - learn to deal with the fact that they are good - but not classic voice people, or bring in the TDm fokls, have voice issues clear up front - and learn down the road that they're not necessarily experts in networks (or their partners).
Personally - I'd rather deal with some voice issue up front than have people too much below cisco's level trying to help me diagnose network later (some PBX vendors have better partners than others - but your experience will likely vary :-)
I think that the primary reason for him to push the Avaya product is familiarity with Avaya in general, not specifically their VOIP products, and fear of unknown elements such as Cisco. The Avaya guys, imo, are either willing to completely drop their drawers to get their product in here, which I doubt, or they are being a bit deceptive.
>>I think that the primary reason for him to push the Avaya product is
>>familiarity with Avaya in general, not specifically their VOIP products,
>>and fear of unknown elements such as Cisco.
Hard to blame him isn't it - we've all been there :-) I personally think he would benefit from expanding his horizons - but I doubt I have to tell you that :-) Try to see if you can find anything thing in the Cisco solution that might peak his interest - he's just human after all - we're all at least a tiny bit adverse to new directions and change...at least at first...
>>The Avaya guys, imo, are either willing to completely drop their drawers to
>>get their product in here, which I doubt, or they are being a bit deceptive.
I don't doubt both are true. But it's a cut-throat market - and Cisco is proabbly no less willing to fight for your business if you let them no it's in danger of going to a competitor. If you've already made your personal choice to stay with Cisco and don't need independent analysis - get your account team in there ASAP and start fighting for your beliefs :-)
(I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir again :-)
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