Archive for October 2014

Is there a market for dedicated visibility fabric infrastructure, or can repurposed Ethernet switches SDN controllers provide “good enough” functionality?

The visibility fabric space has heated up over the past couple of years. The primary reason for the escalated interest in this space is that network complexity has grown exponentially over the past few years, and a visibility fabric can be used to simplify the deployment of security and management tools. A visibility fabric can bring some greatly needed order to what’s currently a highly chaotic system.

The rise in demand for visibility fabrics has caused many SDN and Ethernet switch vendors to jump into the space. This has raised the question – is there a market for dedicated visibility fabric infrastructure, or can some of these repurposed Ethernet switches or software defined network (SDN) controllers provide “good enough” functionality to obviate the need for dedicated visibility fabric infrastructure? It’s been my belief that the repurposed switch approach can limit functionality, and dedicated infrastructure is required to manage large-scale networks.

After long last, we finally get to see what Unify has been working on for these past couple of years. Circuit is certainly different and is an enabler of shifting the way people work.

Today Unify, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise, finally took the covers off the product it has been developing under the code name of Project Ansible. The application, now known as Circuit, is the culmination of two years of intense research and development, and it promises to change the way people work. We in the analyst community had the opportunity try out Circuit at Unify’s annual Global Analyst Summit last week in Phoenix.

I first downloaded Circuit to my iPhone rather than my Macbook, as I believe the value of a UC client is measured by its usability on a mobile device. No disrespect meant to all the vendors that have put work into developing rich desktop clients but it’s been my belief that mobile UC provides much greater bang for the buck. Having non-unified communications tools is awkward on a desktop but isn’t the end of the world. However, on a mobile device it’s extremely time consuming to continually be switching between applications, so a robust mobile UC client can provide tremendous value.

After six months in a new position at Polycom, Frendo discusses the state of the collaboration industry.

Michael Frendo is Polycom’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Engineering and has been in this current role for about six months now. In a company full of geeky engineers, he can be thought of as the head geek. Given that he’s been in the role now for about six months, I thought it would a good time to check in with Michael and get his impressions of the collaboration industry and Polycom’s role in it.

Question: Given that your last position was SVP of Architecture at Infinera, a networking company, what attracted you to the collaboration market and this position at Polycom?

Michael: I like to look for opportunities in markets that are undergoing disruption. With change there is always opportunity. I am also fond of real-time communications. I started my career working on DMS100s in the 1980s, which, and I led the VoIP group at Cisco as we reshaped voice communications to run over IP networks.

The term “software-defined” is very overused in IT these days, but for Instart Logic, it’s actually accurate.

Application delivery has always been a huge pain in the neck. There are so many factors to consider – the device, browser, wired network, wireless network, cloud provider, etc. Frankly, considering all of the variables involved in delivering applications, it’s remarkable that anything works at all.

Between the application and the user, there are many points where problems can occur. There’s the application itself – some aren’t network-friendly, queries can be lengthy, sometimes the application is faster than the device it runs on, sometimes it’s the other way around. Then there’s the data center or cloud provider – how much can it scale, how fast is the network, where are the points of latency and storage interconnects. The last mile is an issue as well – wired and wireless have significantly different characteristics. Other issues include the operating system, distance that the data travels, and the endpoint itself. Diversity, distance, congestion, latency, and topology all play a role in how applications perform over networks.

What motivated EMC to take over VCE, and why Cisco saw it as a good move.

This morning before its earnings call, EMC issued a press release stating it had acquired controlling interesting in the joint venture (JV) known as VCE. The JV was created by Cisco and EMC with minority investments from VMware and Intel to create the converged infrastructure market. Following the acquisition, EMC will own 90% of the JV, with Cisco maintaining about a 10% stake in the company.The companies formed VCE to develop an integrated, validated, pre-tested converged solution that customers could use to stand up a private cloud in just a few days. There are literally tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of configuration parameters required to stitch V, C and E together. The JV took much of the mystery out of that, at least 80% to 90%, with the remaining 10% to 20% being used to customize the solution for specific environments.

Many industry watchers consider Mitel’s bid for ShoreTel as the next natural step in the company’s strategy of amassing market share through acquisition, but I see the desire for a common UC platform as a primary driver, too.

Following Mitel’s public disclosure yesterday that it has offered to buy competitor ShoreTel, industry watchers are busy speculating as to the motivation for the unsolicited bid. Many consider this the next natural step in Mitel’s strategy of amassing market share through acquisition, but I see the desire for a common UC platform as a primary driver, too.

To recap, the $540 million cash offer by Canada-based Mitel for US-based ShoreTel equates to about $8.10 per share, about a 20% premium to where the stock had been trading. In its disclosure, Mitel indicated that ShoreTel had rejected an earlier proposal, also for $8.10 per share, made on Oct. 2. In an official statement, ShoreTel said it is reviewing the current bid, which will remain open until Nov. 20. While ShoreTel hasn’t officially rejected the bid yet, it most likely will, given this bid is identical to the last one.

Re-imagining its approach could help Aruba Networks capitalize on a Wi-Fi market that appears set for massive growth.

Aruba Networks has arguably been the most successful enterprise-focused wireless network company over the past five years. Cisco may have more share, but much of that is due to Cisco’s massive wired base. At one time, Motorola was on par with Aruba, albeit in different verticals, but that business is but a shell of what it once was and Aruba has continued to steal its share.

As successful as Aruba has been in the enterprise segment, the company has had less success with the SME market, i.e. businesses where the employee count ranged from about 25 to 250. Why, you ask? Well, two big problems: a lack of product built for this segment and no channel to sell the product. In this case, the double negative doesn’t create a positive, just a bigger negative.

With respect to product, all the company had for Wi-Fi was a controller-managed solution with a price point meant for large businesses to manage hundreds or even thousands of access points. Over the past year or so, Aruba has rectified the product issue.

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