Archive for 2011

Twitter to manage a router?? It’s not as crazy as it sounded at first. In fact, it’s an interesting approach that no one else is taking to networking..

Remember Enterasys? That’s right, the old Cabletron Company that got swallowed into Siemens Enterprise and went quiet for a while. Yesterday Enterasys released a rather unique addition to their product line with project “Isaac”.

In addition to being a great bartender on the Love Boat, Isaac allows organizations to manage their network infrastructure through the following social media tools: Twitter, Salesforce Chatter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Isaac uses the various social media interfaces to send and receive messages to Enterasys routers, switches and wireless infrastructure. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t just send over syslog and CLI responses; instead it converts messages to natural language, making it easier to understand. From what Enterasys told me, any network management or configuration function that could be done directly on the network device could be done through the social media interface. Initially Isaac will be used to manage Enterasys network devices, but the company has plans to broaden it to support products from other network infrastructure vendors.

The strategy makes sense for Enterasys as a Siemens company because of the strong focus Siemens Enterprise has had on social media over the past two years. In many ways it ties Enterasys to Siemens in a way that’s better than any before.

Shedding the video business should put to rest the idea that HP will acquire Polycom or another Unified Communications vendor.

My morning of June 1st started off with a bunch of news from Polycom. Here are the key highlights:

* Polycom has acquired the visual collaboration business unit from HP for a reported $89 million. This includes the Halo product as well as the managed services associated with it. As part of this, Polycom will be the exclusive video partner of HP, and it will include Polycom providing video applications for the HP WebOS devices, which include the Palm based TouchPad.

* Polycom launched the Open Visual Consortium to drive more B2B and B2C use of video. The consortium will be an open video exchange cloud with a number of service providers including GlowPoint, which has its own open video cloud.

* Microsoft announced an expansion of its strategic partnership with Polycom. One of the items in the press release was that the companies would be announcing two new joint products, but no details of these were given at the time of press release.

I’ll go through the announcements one by one and give my thoughts and then the impact to other vendors in the space.

Amid much speculation that Polycom was on the selling block, with HP being the primary possible acquirer, Polycom made the following announcements this morning:

  • Polycom acquired the Visual Collaboration Unit from HP, which includes all of the Halo products and managed services
  • Polycom and HP inked an agreement where HP would use Polycom as it’s exclusive partner for Telepresence and video UC solutions
  • Polycom announced the creation of the “Open Visual Communications Consortium” with a number of service providers including AT&T, BT conferencing, Global Crossing, Orange Business Services, Telefonica, Verizon and other service providers to drive B2B and B2C adoption of video
  • Polycom and Microsoft announced an expanded partnership that includes two products but at the time of press release did not announce any details on these products

These announcements are an interesting twist in growing saga that is corporate video conferencing.  About a year ago, Cisco closed on the acquisition of Tandberg creating a tremendous amount of speculation that Polycom would be acquired as well.  The logic being that, in an environment where video is becoming a core component of UC, it would be difficult for a video pure play to exist.  Names like Silver Lake (Avaya), Gore Group (Siemens) and Dell were tossed around as possible acquirers, but HP appeared to be the front-runner.  HP made some sense for a couple of reasons:  (1) It had its own niche video unit (Halo) and Polycom would bolster it; and (2) HP could use Polycom to close the product gap with Cisco, who HP appears obsessed with from a competitive standpoint.

I’m not saying that Microsoft can’t lead us through the transition to the consumerized enterprise, but history isn’t on their side.

Last week I was fortunate enough to speak at the Microsoft Tech Ed Conference in Atlanta. Much of my presentation focused on the need to develop cross platform skills since the virtual monopoly that Microsoft had on the corporate desktop is rapidly coming to an end for a number of reasons (I won’t go into those reasons now). I represent some evidence of that as well, albeit a small sample size. After being a Microsoft user for years I now carry a MacBook and iPad. I’ll admit that I felt like a bit of an alien being at the Microsoft event with Apple products, but it is a sign of the times. I understand that a sample size of myself isn’t statically relevant, but just go into any airport, Internet cafe or board room. There are more non Microsoft devices than ever before. After my presentation I had a chance to talk to many of the attendees and I was surprised–maybe I shouldn’t have been–at the strong resistance from the Microsoft community in embracing the consumerization and multi operating system trends. IT can fight it all they want, but I firmly believe the trend is here to stay and IT, particularly the hard core Microsoft IT pro community, needs to learn to deal with it.

This week at Google’s I/O developer conference, the company announced the general availability of two Chrome OS Laptops.  Both Best Buy and Amazon will be selling the devices made by Acer and Samsung.  The Samsung “Chrome Book” will have a 12.1 inch display and have integrated WiFi and Verizon 3G and will be priced at $429.  The Acer device will only be $349 but will be WiFi only and have an 11.6 inch screen.  Both devices tout long battery life and are optimized for accessing content out of the cloud.

Google also announced a very compelling business package where organizations could lease the Chrome Books for $28 per month per user.  The $28 price tag includes the laptop, full warranty, support, service, end of life replacement and a device called the Chrome Box to allow companies to connect the Chrome Book to the corporate file systems.

In my opinion, this is an important evolutionary step for the device market, for both consumers and corporate workers.  Almost every part of technology has transformed to be web optimized.  To quote my colleague, Sandra Palumbo, “we access what we want, when we want” because we’re always connected.

Cisco, Avaya and the rest of the field should be embracing Chrome OS as a way to rip the Microsoft foundation out of companies that Lync will be built on.

All eyes are on Interop this week but there’s another significant conference running in parallel to it and that’s the Google I/O Developer Conference. Day two of the event was focused on Chrome OS and its release into the market. Six months ago Google released a handful of beta units to the industry and after only half a year of beta testing it looks like Google is finally ready to bring the Chrome OS laptops to market.

What Google announced was that beginning June 15, two laptop models, one made by Asus and one by Samsung and will be sold by Amazon and Best Buy. The Samsung laptop will have a 12.1-inch screen, have WiFi and 3G services, touts an “all-day” battery (you can do this when you’re not spinning a drive continually) and will retail for $499. The Acer Chrome Laptop will be WiFi only, have an 11.6 inch screen, also have an all day battery and be priced at $349.

The struggles at Cisco have been well documented over the past year or so.  Much of the reason for this is large number of executive departures that have left Cisco over the past few years.  Here is a list of the more notable ones in recent memory:

  • Tony Bates, SVP of Cisco’s enterprise, commercial and small business division is now CEO of Skype
  • Debra Chrapaty, SVP of Collaboration became Zynga’s CIO
  • Dan Scheinman head of Cisco’s media business resigned when Cisco shut down Flip
  • Nawaf Bitar, VP of Security is now a GM and SVP of Juniper Networks Emerging Technologies division
  • Jayshree Ulall, SVP of the Data Center, Switching and Services business unit is now CEO of Arista Networks
  • Doug Gourlay, VP of Data Center Marketing joined Jayshree at Arista to become VP of Marketing at Arista
  • Jeff Hirschman, engineering manager of Cisco’s Gigabit Switching Business Unit also joined Arista to be VP of Engineering
  • Ben Gibson, head of Cisco’s enterprise mobility solutions marketing business is Chief Marketing Officer of Aruba Networks
  • Dayle Hall and Chris Kozup, both marketing managers that worked for Ben at Cisco joined Aruba shortly after
  • Joe Burton, CIO of Cisco’s Unified Communications group is now Polycom’s CTO and GM of Enterprise and service provider

But the churn in executive talent started when Mike Volip and Charlie Giancarlo left several years ago.  Those departures coincided with Cisco’s implementation of its “boards and councils” management style.  The boards and councils approach isn’t the sole reason Cisco has had people leave.  The lack of growth in Cisco’s stock price has been an issue for some as well.  Looking at the list of places where the execs have landed, other than Bitar, it’s all start-ups or high growth companies.

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