Avaya Strikes Out with SIP

Jason, the individual who had given me an old Avaya G3 PBX, also has shares some frustrations with Avaya. He asked if he wanted to guest write and I agreed. Below is his thoughts on what I believe is marketing and non technical/traditional people taking control of tech companies. Some of this was reflective in some of my topical rants and in my infamous ending the “relationship status” with Avaya. Anyways, this post isn’t about me, read on!

Like your humble curator, I have a love/hate relationship for Avaya. When I attended the International Avaya Users Group in 2012, it was clear that the corporate vision of Avaya is that TDM is out, SIP is in. Gateways? What are those? Analog lines? Clearly a thing of the past in Avaya’s view. We use a large (relatively speaking) Avaya CM 5.2.1 system, with a consistent dial plan across our three state area. Most branches are equipped with a handful of analog 1FB lines for survivability, and you can be sure that each branch has at least a few analog stations for Fax, Credit Card machines, conference phones, and other business critical devices.  We have 67 media gateways, 3 port networks, and use almost 4000 ports.  Some of our systems we’ve used date back to the System 75. We do use VoIP in the sense of trunks between the gateways (Avaya native) and use SIP connections to Exchange & Lync.

Station wise, I’d estimate we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 IP stations, all H323. In certain markets, we took VoIP for a test drive and the users do like it, but it’s a pain when it fails. Our data department doesn’t understand QoS so the branches routinely experience some  audio quality problems which drive them nuts. Also, with our no DHCP policy, it’s actually less headaches to roll out TDM instead.

As much as the telco industry would like to say goodbye to analog lines and devices, they’re here to stay for a while.

As an aside, an internal study indicates that for most of our branch locations, putting IP phones on the desktop is actually more expensive than the parallel TDM/Digital solution when you begin to account for the increased cost of POE switches and the more expensive set on the desk.

And as for this mixed blessing of a technology we know as SIP? I agree, SIP is a cool technology that does a far better job of tying together disparate communication technologies than any protocol before it, Avaya needs to wake up and understand that SIP is not for everyone!

Case in point: SIP is not natively supported in 5.2.1. Sure, they say you can build native SIP trunks in 5.2, but any tech will tell you you need a Session Manager in order to make those SIP trunks useful. So, now you need to purchase a Session Manager. Oh, did I mention you also need to purchase a System Manager to manage that Session Manager? We have somewhat successfully integrated our CM with Microsoft Lync (watch your dialplans), and Exchange Unified Messaging. However, we are missing some features of Exchange UM, because the Avaya can’t understand and grok the SIP messages Exchange is sending despite generous massaging in the Session Manager. Don’t even get me started on the disaster of having more than one CAS role server!

Avaya would argue that we could simply upgrade off the 5.X platform, but we would need to rip and replace many of our larger gateways. And while some companies are successfully implanting SIP trunks from their carrier, (now you need to buy a Session Border Controller…) SIP trunking is not available in most of our markets yet. The long and short, SIP is here to stay, I won’t argue that point. But some customers aren’t ready to turn their entire telco world upside down for a technology that’s not a good fit.

So Avaya, quit shoving SIP down our throats and continue to support the older proven technologies!