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Issue of June 2006 

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802.1AB shifts the VoIP paradigm

Mike Seaton, Vice-president, Strategic Alliances and Sales Operations at Extreme Networks on VoIP and the Universal Port Manager concept using 802.1AB.

What is your opinion on the acceptance of VoIP in India?

There is growing acceptance of VoIP. Enterprises have now realised the convenience offered by a single converged network.

What are the key products that you have in VoIP?

We came up with Converged Network Analyser (CNA) a year back. From our strategic partner Avaya’s perspective, it optimises VoIP outputs both for local area and wide area networks. Hence, we adopted Avaya’s specific application agent and installed it on all the switches that we produce.

Now you will find it built into all the switches we manufacture. This integration will have information captured on these switches and then transferred to the CNA servers. It will help enterprises analyse and monitor network details.

Could you elaborate on the Universal Port Manager concept?

The idea behind the Universal Port Manager is to have role-based policies along with authentication that identifies and recognises the appropriate VLAN where it can be ported. On the identity side of things it will recognise a person and then assign him to a policy based on who he is.

One of its prerequisites is to know the device and the other is to recognise the user. We want to provide users with a better administrative and deeper level of IP network control and make complex processes simple. The universal port performs intelligent event-driven actions directly on the network switch.

What are the standards used in the Universal Port concept?

The Universal Port works in tandem with the IEEE standards 802.1AB (for automatic exchange of configuration details between devices on a LAN) and 802.1x authentication. It also specifically delivers information on call servers and VLAN to Avaya phones and the PC.

Again we have the advantage of open source technologies. The Universal Port auto-provisions ports within the network switch, based on user or device information. It simplifies deployment of green field projects and security policies for roaming users and devices.

The Universal Port also automates Power over Ethernet (PoE), and informs the user about power consumption of individual phones which helps in the event of low power levels or outages. For example, Avaya screen phones require more power for boot up compared to phones with buttons. It will be available in the market soon.

—Dominic K

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