In normal parlance, convergence typically addresses the increasing tendency of voice and data to do so. But convergence means many things to many players, and is often invoked to explain or describe emerging relationships between network infrastructure players and communications providers as they occur.
The recent announcement from switch and security vendor Juniper Networks and enterprise communications player Avaya is a case in point. The two organizations have entered into a strategic relationship (which translated into plainer terms means that they believe their team-up will produce more business for them). The idea is to engage in joint development of converged solutions that combine Avaya's enterprise communications and Juniper's security and routing capabilities. This includes rights for each organization to resell the other's services and product offerings, plus a global services arrangement whereby the team can deliver services that include program management, remote network management, and managed services.
This type of arrangement makes good sense, because Avaya can combine its VoIP offerings, access services, telephony applications with Juniper's hardened switches and routers to boost the security of the kinds of communications it delivers, while Juniper can leverage Avaya's reach into organizations and companies all the way from SMBs to enterprises. The future focus on management of various kinds—for programs, remote networks, and all kinds of fee-based managed services that range from messaging, to call centers, to conferencing and collaboration—could prove a potent combination to stimulate growth and new business for both companies.
That said, there's got to be something in it for customers, or they won't bite and the partnership will go nowhere. Both partners appear convinced that they contribute key ingredients to their joint offerings and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What potential customers may find appealing includes the following:
- Secure, verifiable remote access technologies make it easier for them to feel comfortable allowing mobile or home-based workers onto their networks.
- Enhanced communications security helps dispel concerns about using public links and networks to move sensitive data or other kinds of traffic.
- Demonstrated capability with intrusion detection, boundary security, traffic filtering and grooming, and quality of service brings all the key ingredients necessary for securing both real-time and asynchronous data communications.
- Complete offerings for networking, communications, and multi-site messaging and application integration creates a convenient, one-stop shopping outlet that customers at all levels are bound to find attractive.
- End-to-end security and management services permit providers to stay involved in technology deployments, and thus to work with customers to maintain security and keep infrastructure elements up-to-date.
All this said, the bet appears to be that making it easier for customers to obtain managed access to secure communications, network services, and multi-site integration means more customers will buy more products and services. I think it's a good bet, and the results of this partnership will not only be interesting to watch, but probably also presage other similar arrangements in the future. Not coincidentally, this also helps to explain Cisco's ongoing investments in voice and data, with security and management becoming increasing keys to their massive kingdom as well.
Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer, trainer, and consultant who specializes in matters related to information security, markup languages, and networking technologies. He's a regular contributor to numerous TechTarget Web sites, technology editor for Certification Magazine, and writes an e-mail newsletter for CramSession called "Must Know News."