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

Archive for November 2012

There’s no hotter IT initiative today than “bring your own device.” A recent survey ZK Research conducted shows that 82% of organizations now  in some way support the use of consumer devices in the workplace. This is a marked difference from just a couple of years ago, when very few organizations supported it. For those companies that do not support it yet, get ready because the heat’s going to come from above your pay grade and it will be your CEO who says “I don’t care what our corporate policy is, make this iPad work.”

This is one of the reasons mobile device management (MDM) has been such a hot market over the past few years. MDM enables the safe on-boarding of devices into the corporate workplace. It ensures that the device adheres to corporate security policies, drops certificates onto the device and configures the device automatically. Generally, a good MDM solution can reduce provisioning time from hours to mere minutes.

There may be nothing more mystical or intimidating in corporate IT than the Cisco CLI used to configure and manage the company’s switches and routers. Those who have mastered it use a combination of shortcuts, homegrown tools, scripts and other techniques to complete even the simplest of tasks. Those who haven’t struggle for hours looking through Cisco Press books and scouring Cisco’s support web page for configuration help. This is one of the reasons the CCIE is maybe the most revered industry certification. These are the gurus who make Cisco networks go.

Prior to being an analyst, this was my life. I’ve personally deployed and configured thousands of Cisco devices over the years and lived and died with the CLI. I had a laptop filled with configurations that I could take, tweak and paste into a router or a switch and get a network up and running quickly. However, troubleshooting in this type of environment was tough. We were often fighting multiple fires, would try and make changes on the fly, and if we couldn’t figure it out, we’d just type “reload” and start over.

This week’s announcement extends the vision to full automation and real-time tuning to optimize application performance.

It seems like a weekly event now to have some vendor issue a press release about something related to software-defined networks (SDNs). This week was Alcatel-Lucent’s turn as they unveiled their SDN strategy, and I thought this announcement had some teeth to it.

ALU’s SDN vision is an extension of its Application Fluent Network strategy that was rolled out in 2010 to be the company’s network fabric vision. The original idea behind “Application Fluency” was to have the network be able to detect certain traffic types and then automatically configure itself accordingly. The low-hanging fruit for the company was real time applications such as VoIP and video, where they already have an embedded base of business.

For decades, networks have been built on closed, proprietary infrastructure. It’s what’s allowed vendors to create unique features and differentiate themselves. Those features are what have enabled the networks to be as reliable, secure and resilient as they have been in the past. However, over the past couple of years it seems that “open” has become the new black when it comes to network infrastructure and every major vendor now has some degree of openness, although may not be 100% open (I’ll define later). Recently, though, I ran across a startup called Pica8 that is, by far, the most open networking vendor that I have seen to date.

Before I get into the specifics of Pica8, let me define why open networking has become all the rage and what it actually means.

Much of the media focus will be on the WiFi solution, but I think the cloud management software holds a tremendous amount of long-term value for Cisco.

Over the weekend, the news of Cisco’s $1.2 billion acquisition of Meraki appears to have leaked to the press. Apparently on Sunday morning there were a number of Twitter posts speculating the rumor of a Cisco acquisition. The story became widely reported by the media and then confirmed by Cisco’s SVP, Rob Soderbery.

The acquisition is a massive amount of cash for the 330-employee, San Francisco-based company with an estimated $100 million in bookings run-rate. Meraki was founded by three computer scientists from MIT and had collected $80 million in funding since they launched in 2006. The $1.2 billion in cash represents a whopping $3.6 million per employee, which explains why Meraki, which had earlier stated its desire to go public, was willing to become part of Cisco. There will certainly be a number of people with big smiles on the Cisco campus now.

This week Avaya held its reseller event, the Avaya Executive Partner Forum, in Cancun, Mexico. During the event the company highlighted some positive changes to its channel program and addressed some of the more controversial issues head on. Considering the number of new products that have come out of Avaya over the past couple of years, including new versions of Aura, IP Office, video, VSP 9000 to support the VENA architecture, wireless, collaboration pod, I really don’t believe product is an issue for Avaya anymore. The company must execute on its channel plans for growth, which will put it in a better position for an IPO in the future.

The most pressing issue Avaya and its channel partners face is growing network share. With all due respect to the excitement around video, cloud services and other hot markets, good old fashion networking is the key. If you look at the big buckets of IT spending, Avaya already owns about a quarter of the telephony share (give or take, depending on whose numbers you use), so gaining significant share there isn’t likely. Looking at the exciting video market, that market isn’t more than a couple of billion if you include infrastructure, end points and related items. If Avaya somehow miraculously took 20% share in that market, that’s equivalent to about $300M-$400M in revenue. However, just 5% of the $20 billion Ethernet switch market is $1 billion in revenue.

This morning Cisco announced the intention to purchase privately held Cloupia for approximately $125 million in cash, adding to its long list of cloud-related acquisitions.

For those who don’t know Cloupia, the company sells management software to orchestrate and manage cloud (physical and virtual) infrastructure through a single pane of glass. Cloud is driving the need for converged infrastructure and the vendor industry has responded nicely with Cisco, EMC, Network Appliance, Dell, HP and others having participated in building converged infrastructure. However, managing converged infrastructure is significantly different than managing legacy infrastructure. The CAs and HPs of the world do a great job of managing static, physical infrastructure, but a gap exists with virtual and even a bigger gaps exists in managing physical and virtual in a single plane of glass. This is the gap that Cloupia is trying to fill with its products.



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