Archive for September 2014

Unify made the comment that “Virtual teams are taking over but there’s still work to be done.” I couldn’t agree more.

As I do most mornings, I woke up on a recent morning up and checked my Twitter feed. It’s interesting how things change. Years ago, I used to wake up and call into my voice mail, then it switched to checking email and now Twitter has become my main focus area. Sure there was the overnight mumbo jumbo about general news but there was also this interesting graphic that Unify published.

In the tweet Unify made the comment that “Virtual teams are taking over but there’s still work to be done.” I couldn’t agree more. Often when I’m speaking with IT leaders or even workers about remote working, there’s a feeling that remote working is a panacea to all business challenges. You get to hire the best talent regardless of location, there are no office expenses and the employee should be eternally grateful to work for such a progressive and awesome company that supports remote working. The other points that are taken as gospel is that remote workers can be as productive or even more productive than in-office employees, and virtual teams work just as effectively as in-person teams. We’re all professionals, right?

Apple Tim Tebows the big event

I had high hopes for Apple’s announcement this week, but they failed to live up to the hype.

Anyone familiar with football knows the story of Tim Tebow – massively hyped college football player, huge expectations when he joined the NFL. Then came his pro debut. All eyes were on Mr. Tebow and the die-hard fans were pulling for him. Then he flopped, although the zealots will point to a few stats and try to convince you he was a success.

Now that the WAN is finally evolving, I think it’s time to take a look at the infrastructure that’s used to optimize it.

It’s been well documented that the current wide area network (WAN) and data center interconnect (DCI) architecture has been in place now for well over 20 years. That architecture – the legacy one we’ve all become familiar with – was designed for the days when no one expected much from the network. Slow, fast, whatever. It was the Internet and it was expected to be flaky. Not so anymore, though. We rely on the cloud and mobility to drive our lives. Businesses are network-centric, and that’s driving the evolution towards a new WAN model.

Now that the WAN is finally evolving, I think it’s time to take a look at the infrastructure that’s used to optimize it. The majority of equipment used to optimize the WAN is designed to solve a specific problem on a private, controlled network. The mismatch between legacy infrastructure and the demands of today’s WANs have led to the following problems:

I’ve been covering Cisco as an analyst now for the better part of 15 years. Prior to that, I worked at a reseller, and before that was a networking engineer. It seems that for the past 20 years or so, I’ve heard the cries of commoditization of the network and how Cisco’s whole business model was about to fall apart.

Well, the network business is alive and kicking and based on Cisco’s last earnings call, product margins are still above 60%. Sure, that’s down a bit from 10 years ago, but I remember some pundits claiming that margins would fall into the 30% range or even the 20s. Why hasn’t this happened? Well, what Cisco has proven over the years is that if you continually offer differentiated features, the product can avoid being commoditized.

To me, there was never more evidence of this than the success Cisco had with its Unified Computing System (UCS). When Cisco launched UCS back in 2009, there may have been no market (other than PCs) that was more of a commodity than servers. UCS completely redefined the server industry. In just five years Cisco has reached No. 4 in server sales and, according to IDC, has gained No. 1 share for x86 blades in the Americas. The UCS business is now on a $3 billion run rate and the company touts more than 35,000 customers. UCS took the concept and tied it to the network through something called a “service profile,” enabling organizations to automate many of the processes that were done manually in the past. Pay a bit more on hardware, but save money on operational costs.

How beacons are becoming almost as valuable Wi-Fi for retailers.

Earlier this summer, Aerohive put together a solution for retail environments under the brand of Personal Engagement Platform. The solution packages Aerohive’s products with some from strategic partners such as Euclid and Airwatch to remove the complexity around creating personalized services. The strategy seems like it’s been a big success, as last quarter Aerohive announced its retail strategy was up 300% year-over-year and now accounts for 10% of its overall business.

Today, Aerohive added to its retail strategy by partnering with Radius Networks, one of the leaders in proximity services and beacon technology. For those not familiar with beacons, they are small, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) nodes used to deliver personalized services and list for as low as $29. For example, in retail, the store application on a customer’s mobile device can “listen” for the beacon and then, based on user preference, push an ad, coupon, or promotion to the device. If the shopper is a female, she may receive a 2-for-1 special on women’s shoes. If the customer is male, he may get pushed a promotion for sport coats. Basically, the combination of a smartphone application and a beacon can trigger an action for the customer.

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