Archive for May 2013

Well, the 2013 version of Interop is now in the books and while conventional wisdom dictates that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” I thought there were a number of themes at the show that rose above the general noise of the event and are worth sharing. In no particular order, these themes were:

  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) needs a better definition. It’s amazing to me the number of vendors that now claim to be in the SDN market. It seems that if a vendor is programmable, virtual or software-based, it can claim to be an SDN vendor. When you look at these attributes, who doesn’t fall into one of these categories? And when a definition is so broad that it means everything, it actually means nothing. There’s certainly a common theme that all the vendors talk about – legacy networks are complicated and rigid and this is out of alignment with the rest of IT. How this gets solved is still up for debate, and SDNs will not become a pervasive technology until the debate is at least partially answered.

If you remember the old Austin Powers movies, Mini-Me was a full replica of Dr. Evil in every way. Just as evil, just as cunning, and just as powerful. Today, Riverbed announced a “mini-me” version of its Stingray application delivery controller (ADC). Stingray came into Riverbed through the acquisition of Zeus so, in a way, Riverbed’s latest product is Mini-Zeus.

In the Austin Powers movies, Mini-Me really didn’t seem to have much of a purpose other than to laugh evilly and scream once in a while. That certainly isn’t the case with the mini-ADC, or Stingray Services Controller, as the product opens up new markets for ADCs.

Historically, hardware-based ADCs have been deployed on a “per-application” basis. Rolling out a new application? Buy a new ADC. Migrating to a new hardware platform? Buy a new ADC. Customers would sometimes repurpose older hardware, but given how fast hardware evolves, this was more the exception than the norm. Lately, the hardware platforms have evolved to where a single ADC could be shared and support multiple applications, but this still doesn’t give a true one-to-one ratio of ADCs per application.

The Dock clearly cannibalizes the market for IP phones, but ShoreTel is choosing to be an enabler of that instead of ignoring the demand that’s there.

Over the past couple of years, there has certainly been no hotter driver of IT spend than prepping the enterprise for BYOD. We’ve seen the explosion of the mobile device management market; the continued strength of WiFi vendors and cloud services has been on the rise as a way of delivering apps to consumer devices.

The UC market, though, hasn’t really managed to take advantage of this trend other than augmenting their solutions with “soft” clients that run on consumer devices, which hasn’t been a great driver of UC spend.

It feels like Cisco has been retooling the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) for the better part of a decade now. The program got life when the company acquired Metreos and Cisco put together a program called Cisco Technology Developer Program (CTDP) to build applications for the IP phone. There may be some of you chuckling at that notion, but many have thought (myself included) that there was indeed a market for such applications. Well, that never materialized, and CTDP evolved into what’s now known as CDN. The collaboration group at Cisco is focused not on IP phone apps but business apps with video, Jabber and VoIP integration.

However, CDN isn’t just related to collaboration – it’s supposed to be Cisco-wide. One of the biggest questions I’ve always had with CDN, and I’ve been a critic of it in the past, is what value the program has to the company outside of the collaboration space, particularly to the network. Cisco’s network infrastructure does have many building blocks for third parties, such as NBAR, PfR and flexible Netflow, but they haven’t been as widely utilized by third parties as I would have thought by now.

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