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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Archive for September 2012

Yesterday, Silicon Valley’s biggest shopaholic, Cisco, added to its wireless portfolio when it announced the acquisition of a small company that develops Wi-Fi analytic technologies called ThinkSmart Technologies. ThinkSmart is a Cork, Ireland, based technology company that uses the information it gains from Wi-Fi networks to collect intelligent information such as time of day, traffic patterns and dwell times for mobile users.

There were no financial terms announced, so it’s a safe bet this was a relatively small acquisition primarily meant to add the technology into existing Cisco products.

I like this move by Cisco for a number of reasons. One of them is that it’s based overseas, so Cisco can use part of the huge war chest of cash it has in Europe. Company CEO John Chambers has strongly stated that it would continue to invest in Cisco, but the amount of U.S. investment it does will be limited until the Obama or incoming administration (if different) grants a repatriation holiday on bringing foreign cash back into the country.

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The current, dominant architecture for enterprise Wi-Fi networks is to have a bunch of “thin” access points (APs) deployed for coverage with a number of controllers used as the “brains” of the deployment. The APs provide the connectivity to the devices and the controller acts as a central point of control for configuration, security and policy. This model is very common and has been in place now for about a decade.

However, the IT environment has changed and Wi-Fi architectures need to change along with it. The controller-AP model works in some scenarios, like deploying in large facilities with lots of people in them. But how many companies are like that now? My research shows that over 80% of employees now work outside the corporate headquarters, primarily in branch offices, and that’s where the main problems are for the current controller led model.

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When I look back at the past decade, it’s remarkable to see the changes that have taken place in corporate IT. For those of you who don’t know my past, I was in corporate IT prior to being an analyst. I, like many other IT individuals, built an IT philosophy based on tight control. IT had control over everything – the networks were all private lines or frame relay, each application had its own dedicated servers and storage and, of course, IT owned the end points. The whole model of IT was built on a premise of IT control even if there were a lot of inefficiencies in the architecture.

Today, the IT model has been flipped on its head. Things that were the exception are now the norm. Remember when people had to ask permission to work from home? Now it’s done all the time. When you a saw a Mac in the workplace it seemed unusual, but now not it’s weird to not see several. Virtualization was a tool for the labs; today there are more virtualized workloads than physical ones. Because we live in this consumerized, virtualized, mobilized, cloud-driven IT environment, we can do so much more with technology than ever before. People now blend work and life so smoothly there’s very little transition time between the too. Life is great, right?

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Who is John Galt? That’s the famous opening line from the literacy classic, Atlas Shrugged, by one of my all-time favorite authors, Ayn Rand. If you’ve read the book, you understand the meaning of the question. If you haven’t read it, I’ll explain. The question is meant to be a sarcastic phrase used to respond to questions that have no answers, or questions whose answers have no point. For example, “Why is America so fascinated by reality TV?”: “Why do my kids’ hockey bags smell so bad?”; “Why won’t the Obama administration allow for a one-time cash repatriation holiday?”; and “Why can’t the city of Cleveland ever have a decent sports team?” The answer is a simple “Who is John Galt?”

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, part two of the movie comes out in October (I guess another question might be, “why do all great books make terrible movies?”) and this past VMworld in San Francisco has made me ponder another unanswerable question – “Why do IT silos still exist?”

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A good move for Aerohive but a better move for any company out there that wants to leverage Bonjour for Apple-specific services.

On Monday, Aerohive announced it was giving away a downloadable version of its Bonjour Gateway. The Aerohive Bonjour Gateway had previously been made available with the purchase of a single Aerohive access point. Now, instead of mandating customers buy an Aerohive AP, anyone can download the software and run it on a VMWare ESXI 4.1 host.

The Bonjour Gateway allows Apple’s Bonjour protocol to cross network boundaries and enable Bonjour services across large enterprise networks, both wired and wireless, even if the customer is not running any Aerohive equipment. The Bonjour protocol is used by Apple to enable services such as AirPrint, AirPlay and Apple file sharing.

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If there’s one thing the tech industry does, it’s over use terms to the point that they become meaningless. Remember the “everything 2.0” wave? The craze today is around the term “software;” everything is becoming software defined or software enabled or software this that and the other thing.

Over the last year or so I’ve seen a rise in the number of vendors claiming to have “software”-based versions of products that can compete with their hardware-based counterparts. Silver Peak with WAN Optimization, Vidyo in video conferencing, and Vyatta routers come to mind as some recent examples.

I do think there is room in the market for both software and hardware versions of these particular items, but IT buyers should understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

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