Archive for October 2012

VMworld is about a month behind us now and I’ve had a little more time to noodle on the joint survey I did with virtualization management vendor Xangati. There was a tremendous amount of energy at VMworld and the show floor was one of the biggest and busiest I’ve seen in a long time. This might give one the impression that the VMware franchise is impenetrable, but the survey shows differently.

Before I go through some of the data, remember the survey was answered by current VMware customers, so the data is likely to be skewed pro-VMware, which makes the data even more surprising. VMware has had a virtual (pun intended) monopoly on the market, but there does seem to be some chinks in the armor that could be exploited by another solution provider.

Management tools haven’t kept up, which is why so many IT managers describe scenarios where everything on the dashboard is “green,” and yet stuff isn’t working.

If you’ve followed my blogs and research over the past few years, you’ll know I’ve been pushing hard for the network management industry to evolve. My thesis is that the legacy management platforms were developed in an era where IT infrastructure was physical, static, deployed in silos and under the tight control of IT. Today, of course, the whole IT model has been flipped. IT resources are virtual, users own and control endpoints and there are more and more shared resources. Meanwhile, management tools haven’t really kept up, which is why so many IT managers I talk to describe scenarios where everything on the dashboard is “green,” and yet stuff isn’t working.

I walked through the causes for this on a webinar a couple of weeks ago with an up-and-coming network management vendor, ActionPacked! Networks, one of Cisco’s many developer partners. In fact, if you want to watch the replay, it can be found here.

I started the analyst part of my career way back in March of 2001. I was hired by the Yankee Group to run a group that looked at broadband services and the first report I wrote was on a technology called “IP Service Switches.” These products came from companies like CoSine, Ennovate, Allegro, Celox, Shasta (acquired by Nortel) and SpringTide (acquired by Lucent), and promised to deliver scalable, low-cost virtual services from the edge of the service provider network. The idea being that a carrier could offer multi-tenant, value-added services from the edge of the network from a single platform. However, IP service switches never really took off and the category died a slow death.

Earlier this week Juniper made an announcement that seemed eerily similar to what these vendors tried to push back in 2001. The company unveiled a new set of hardware and software products that run on the MX Series 3D Universal Edge router. By deploying the MX 3D, service providers can offer a number of revenue-generating, value-added services, such as load balancing, firewalls, content management, security services and content streaming right from the edge of the network. After a closer look, the range of services Juniper is offering is broader than what was available in the IP Service Switches of 10 years ago, but the concept is the same.

Citrix held its annual industry analyst event last week in Santa Clara and I left with a favorable view of the company’s short- and long-term prospects based on current IT trends. The company has always had a niche position in the IT space dating way back to the WinFrame and MetaFrame days. Prior to being an analyst, I actually worked for a Citrix reseller and was fully certified as a Citrix engineer. I chose to go down this technical path because I had a belief that the standardization, security and management capabilities that thin-client computing brought was the way the industry would go. With centralized management, the highest level of security, and no local PC problems, what could be better?

However, the market didn’t really play out that way. Sure, almost every large enterprise I worked with used Citrix in some capacity. Typically, its primary function was to deliver a subset of applications to people like consultants, call center agents or other task-based workers based on the fact that it was easier to manage and easier to secure. Despite the strong value proposition, the penetration rate of Citrix never reached much more than 10% in most companies and there were several reasons for this.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know there’s no single technology trend that has more hype and mania around it than “software defined networks.” It’s this era’s “2.0,” or the technology equivalent of Andrew Luck. Lots of hype, plenty of potential, but has yet to produce anything. To date, almost every leading vendor has outlined an SDN strategy, but the one missing vendor has been the No. 2 market share leader, HP. After interviews with a number of HP customers and channel partners it appears HP is ready to unveil its SDN strategy.

From a vision perspective, there’s really nothing unique about what HP is doing – they’re focused on IT agility through the decoupling of control and data plane. HP has extended the value proposition of this to applications through a number of open APIs similar to what Avaya, Brocade and Cisco are doing. What’s not clear to me is who the application partners will be at time of launch, if any, but its support of applications is consistent with the rest of the industry.

Mobile apps need to provide capabilities based on identity, location, GPS, compass, etc., then do analysis to predict what information the user may want.

Last week, Cisco acquired a company called ThinkSmart Technologies that provides intelligence based off things that happen over a WiFi network. ThinkSmart collects congestion information, delay times, traffic patterns and a host of other information to provide greater intelligence on what mobile users are doing and how the network is responding. This got me thinking again about a topic that I’ve been pondering for awhile and that’s the difference between applications that are “mini” versus “mobile”.

I would contend that that majority of corporate mobile applications are actually just mini applications. That is, taking an application that has been created for a desktop browser and reformatting it to fit on a smaller screen. Consider the images below:



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