Archive for 2012

The breadth of Cisco’s portfolio has always been a significant differentiator; now they bring a tremendous amount of flexibility to customer choices as well.

Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit was held in LA (home of the Stanley Cup Champions) this week. Typical of Cisco events, the company unveiled a smorgasbord of announcements. One could certainly debate Lync versus Cisco for presence or Polycom versus Cisco for video, but there’s no debating the fact that Cisco can deliver the broadest collaboration experience (voice, video, social, desktop, conferencing) in almost any way the customer wants to consume it, whether it’s cloud, virtual, premise-based or mobile.

The announcements I found worth noting were the following:

A congressional committee recently published the results of an 11-month investigation of the two highly controversial Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei. The results of the probe have been widely disseminated in the media, including a front-page story in the Wall St Journal and a 15-minute piece on 60 minutes.

Congress alleges that both ZTE and Huawei pose a risk to U.S. national security because the network equipment could have secret back doors that allow China to spy on the U.S. In the report, the committee recommends that the U.S. block any merger and acquisition activity involving Huawei and ZTE and recommends that U.S. companies avoid using telecommunications equipment from the two Chinese vendors.

On Monday October 8, Polycom held a technology day in New York. At that event Polycom outlined its vision, strategy for the near future, and a bevvy of new products to support its new approach. Polycom’s vision of ubiquitous video collaboration is similar to that of most other video vendors, but its approach is much different.

Talking about ubiquitous video is certainly much simpler than delivering on it, as it requires cooperation from the rest of the industry. Once every vendor is on the same page, video will go through that “rising tide” that we’ve all being waiting for. While I still don’t think the industry is there yet, I believe what Polycom announced puts them in a position to capitalize on that rising tide, whenever it occurs.

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.

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