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Archive for August 2014

Cisco recently came out with a new version of PfR (v3) to make moving to a next-generation WAN easier, with an improved dashboard as a key feature.

One of the iconic singers of the late 70s was a guy who called himself “Meat Loaf.” In one of his more notable songs he sings “though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see paradise by the dashboard lights.” Some might think he was talking about being with a lady in his car, but I offer an alternative view. I believe he was talking about how cold and lonely it is for network managers who are in the data center late at night trying to troubleshoot WAN problems. However, with a good dashboard that lights up problems, that network manager could eventually find paradise.

I was recently interviewing a Cisco Sales Engineer that I’ve know for a while about the concept of the hybrid WAN, and it seems Cisco recently came out with a new version of PfR (v3) to make moving to a next-generation WAN easier, with an improved dashboard as a key feature. If you’re not familiar with PfR, it can be thought of an as an advanced, application-driven routing protocol that is ideal for hybrid WANs.

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Network management isn’t the sexiest thing in IT and it certainly hasn’t been in the evolution of the software defined data center, but it’s certainly an important part of the overall ecosystem.

The last week of August is always a big week for me. My kids go back to school, it’s the start of hockey season for my youngest child, and it’s typically when VMware holds its user conference, VMworld. As expected, one of the highlights of the show was the evolution of VMware’s NSX platform – the product that enables network virtualization. There were many product announcements regarding NSX, including VMware beefing up OpenStack support.

One of the announcements that I thought flew under the radar was Gigamon’s collaboration with VMware to deliver better visibility into NSX environments. Network management isn’t the sexiest thing in IT and it certainly hasn’t been in the evolution of the software defined data center, but it’s certainly an important part of the overall ecosystem. The key to good network management, though, is visibility as you can’t manage what you can’t see, and visibility is what Gigamon brings to the dance.

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By Lync-qualifying all of its indoor and outdoor 802.11ac products, from the entry level up to industrial-grade series, Aruba is supporting Lync in almost any environment.

If you’ve ever been to the country of Aruba, one of the unique characteristics is that it rarely rains there. In fact, I’ve been there a few times and never experienced a drop of rain. I guess that’s why there are so many happy Arubans! However, the other Aruba, Aruba Networks, is hoping to make a lot of rain by making Microsoft Lync customers happy.

Last week, the Wi-Fi vendor announced that its 802.11ac access points (APs) are the first to be certified under the Microsoft Lync Server Wi-Fi qualification program. The qualification includes both indoor APs, where most of the industry has focused, as well as Aruba’s outdoor APs, which I believe to be a growing area as more and more organizations are looking to extend wireless outside the walls of the building. Also, the qualification ensures that the configuration of the wireless networks adheres to the rigid guidelines laid out by Microsoft to ensure quality voice and video transmission.

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Last week, Silver Peak announced a new product called Unity that can be thought of as an intelligent WAN optimization ‘fabric.’

The evolution of the WAN is finally underway. The primary force driving a new WAN architecture is, of course, the cloud. Building a WAN prior to the cloud was a challenging but straightforward task. Connect your branches to a central hub, have one connection to the Internet, and away you go. Optimizing the WAN with WAN optimization controllers meant a box on either side of the link, and like magic WAN-based applications would perform like LAN-based applications.

Now, enter the era of the cloud. Now there are Internet connections everywhere and the nice, tidy, orderly WAN we had is a big, complex, chaotic system. Optimizing a hybrid WAN is a difficult, if not impossible, task using traditional WAN optimization. Unless you’ve got some pull with the folks at Salesforce or Google, it’s pretty hard to get a WAN optimization appliance deployed in those environments. Clearly, a new type of solution is needed to address the concept of a hybrid WAN that leverages both premise and cloud resources.

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ShoreTel announced a major update to its ShoreTel Mobility client that brings video into the fold, and I think the solution hits the nail on the proverbial video head.

ShoreTel has been one of the leading unified communications (UC) solution providers for many years. However, despite their strong product suite, the company had a big hole in its portfolio – it didn’t have a video solution. Last week ShoreTel announced a major update to its ShoreTel Mobility client that brings video into the fold, and I think the solution hits the nail on the proverbial video head.

Historically, video may have been UC’s ugly stepchild, but it has been gaining momentum over the past few years and now is considered a core part of a UC solution. There are still some video skeptics out there, but these tend to be older, stodgy people that don’t fully appreciated the value that video brings.

Video usage has shifted over the past five years. Historically, enterprise video was done primarily in board rooms or conference rooms and used mainly for scheduled calls. Today though, video is being used more and more on mobile devices and laptops.

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Last week, I was fortunate enough to present at F5’s Agility Partner Conference. The event was held in New York’s Times Square and had about 1,000 of F5’s reseller partners, all looking to get a handle on what’s next for the fast growing vendor. One of the things I enjoy about partner events is that it gives me an opportunity to interact with many of the resellers and see if what I’m observing aligns with the trends in their business.

During my presentation, I talked a lot about the complexity of IT today and the opportunity that it creates in the area of professional services. There’s no doubt that IT is more complicated today that it was a decade or even five years ago.

Historically, IT deployed infrastructure with simplicity and performance in mind. This meant when application A was deployed; it was given its own dedicated servers, storage, ADCs, security products and network resources. This model was replicated for application B, C, D and so on.

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