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

Archive for April 2014

I believe Juniper was the first mainstream network vendor to use the term “fabric” aggressively to describe its next-generation network architecture when the company announced QFabric back in early 2011. There may have been another vendor that used it first, but Juniper made it mainstream. Since then, almost every network vendor uses the term “fabric” broadly, and Juniper itself announced its next phase in fabric-based network when it unveiled MetaFabric in late 2013.

Subsequently, I’ve heard many customers, investors, and even some other analysts ask me what the difference was between MetaFabric and QFabric. The first thing to understand is that while QFabric and MetaFabric are related, MetaFabric does not in any way replace QFabric. I’ve heard some rumors about Juniper’s QFabric being retired because of MetaFabric, but in discussions with Juniper, I can most certainly say that this is not true. QFabric is here to stay.

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The snow is finally off the ground in most of the New England area, opening day of Major League Baseball has come around, but most importantly, it’s Interop time in Las Vegas. This year’s Interop is about a month earlier than Interop of years past, but the activity from the show seems just as high. One of the more interesting announcements I saw from the first couple of days is Gigamon’s Multi Purpose Visibility Fabric Node.

Gigamon, the market leader in traffic visibility, announced the upcoming release of the GigaVUE-HC2 modular fabric node for the Services Layer of the company’s Visibility Fabric. The modularity of the product makes pervasive visibility easier to achieve. Today, visibility requires a number of different components, such as TAPs, packet modification, high-density ports, and intelligent packet modification.

Gigamon’s new GigaVUE-HC2 solves this problem with a modular product that can make it easier to deploy a visibility fabric in a highly complex network environment. The product is a compact 2RU, rack-mountable appliance, so it can be deployed in even the densest environments.

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Why do customers pay a premium for Cisco? My research shows that Cisco owns about 75% of switching share but only about 55% of port share, showing Cisco’s obvious revenue per port advantage over everyone else. Why does this discrepancy exist? I know some of you will disagree with this, but in general, customers pay up for Cisco infrastructure because it does more stuff faster than competitive products.

One good example of this is the evolution of power over Ethernet (PoE). Years before the PoE standards were ratified, Cisco rolled out its own version of PoE that gave customers PoE capabilities, while the rest of the industry was arguing in the standards bodies. Cisco got a huge, early-mover advantage by having a solution two years ahead of the field. Then, when the standard was ratified, Cisco supported it.

Cisco has maintained this advantage as remains the only vendor with 60W POE today. There are many, many examples of this. EIGRP is a faster, better protocol than RIP; for years Skinny had more features than SIP; EtherChannel was great for port aggregation, and the list goes on. Some vendors scream “vendor lock in” and “proprietary,” but the fact is that Cisco supports all the standards. But customers prefer the Cisco version since it does more.

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By far, the biggest news last week from Cisco’s channel event, Partner Summit, was the Intercloud announcement, where the company outlined its vision for a world of interconnected, federated clouds.

Part of the overall cloud strategy for Cisco involves building its own cloud services that could be bought by businesses directly and potentially compete with its channel. That caused some to wonder if Cisco will stick it to its resellers and take the business direct, effectively cutting its channel partners out of the loop. It seems like every year that I hear rumors that Cisco would become more aggressive with its channel partners, but this year it seemed the noise was louder than ever. In fact, I had a conversation with another analyst, whom I’ll leave unnamed, who was convinced that Cisco had been building a secret group inside the company that would enable Cisco to become its own, global systems integrator that would obviate the need for such a large partner organization. Think of it as Star Wars Attack of the Clones meets IBM Global Services.

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