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

Posts Tagged ‘Aruba Networks’

On September 25th, Brocade held its annual “Tech Day” conference. This yearly event is normally a pretty geeky show where the company talks about things like Ethernet Fabrics, software defined networks (SDNs), and other exciting topics like the transition from 16 Gig to 32 Gig FibreChannel. This year’s conference included its fair share of geek talk, but new CEO Lloyd Carney did take the time to give an update to the business and talk about the market at a high level.

There were several underlying themes to Mr. Carney’s keynote, but the main, high-level theme was focusing the company. Historically, Brocade has played in many markets across both the enterprise and service provider landscapes, particularly with its IP portfolio. Moving forward, the company will channel its resources almost exclusively into building products that can accelerate the transformation of the data center.

For many reasons, I think this is the right decision for the company. First, the data center is where the action is. Last month, I got the results back from a joint ZK Research/Tech Target Network Purchase Intention Study that indicated that the momentum we saw in the data center last year would continue into this year. Data center and wireless LAN were, by far, the two highest-rated networking initiatives for the upcoming year. Virtualization, SDNs and cloud computing have forever changed the data center network, and it’s this change that gives Brocade a shot at taking some share. One the principles by which I conduct my research is that significant share shift only occurs at points of market transition, and the data center is going through more transition today than it has in decades.

Those of you in my age demographic might remember an old, cheesy game show called “The Dating Game” with an even cheesier host named Jim Lange. On the show, bachelors and bachelorettes answered totally pointless questions to measure their compatibility with one another. It was a TV game show version of Match.com, if you will.

However, sometimes it’s not just people that need help connecting to one another and finding the best match, it’s also devices. Ever try to hop on a wireless network and get frustrated because your device always seems to pick the wrong access point? It happens to me a fair bit. When I’m at Logan Airport, which is far too often, my MacBook always tries to connect to “Logan WiFi” instead of “United Club” when I’m in the Red Carpet Club, even though the signal quality of the United Club AP is clearly better. Even when I’m at home, my devices sometimes try to connect to my neighbor’s AP instead of the AirPort sitting under my desk, and I have to manually reconnect to the right AP. This can be annoying to tech-savvy workers, who are forced to continually pick the right AP, to downright productivity impairing for less technical folks who don’t feel comfortable changing settings or simply don’t know they’re connected to a sub-optimal AP.

Talk to anyone in IT today about anything and it’s hard not to transition to a discussion on BYOD. Almost every IT leader I speak to is struggling with the pressure of having to allow workers to use personal devices in the workplace while still maintaining security. This is one of the reasons the mobile device management (MDM) market has been growing.

However, it’s been my belief that MDM alone isn’t enough to establish a BYOD strategy. Most MDM solutions are based on client software being deployed and maintained on the device. But devices change so frequently in the workplace that trying to manage security by managing the device does not scale. What’s needed is a solution that’s delivered from the network so devices can be brought onto the corporate network and then used to access information without putting the organization at risk.

It’s the holiday season and soon we’ll all hear the Bing Crosby or Perry Como song “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” over and over again. You can tell it’s looking like Christmas, at least in Massachusetts. The malls are over-crowded; I have bags of ice melt in the garage; the usual rudeness you see on the roadways has been escalated; I have pine needles all over my house and the Patriots are running rough shot over the rest of the AFC East (you poor Jets fans).

Well, the same thing is happening with wireless LAN, as it’s starting to look a lot more like wired. Over the past few years or so we’ve seen better failover times with controllers, better connection resiliency, and today Aruba announced the first wireless LAN platform with optimized application delivery.

The current, dominant architecture for enterprise Wi-Fi networks is to have a bunch of “thin” access points (APs) deployed for coverage with a number of controllers used as the “brains” of the deployment. The APs provide the connectivity to the devices and the controller acts as a central point of control for configuration, security and policy. This model is very common and has been in place now for about a decade.

However, the IT environment has changed and Wi-Fi architectures need to change along with it. The controller-AP model works in some scenarios, like deploying in large facilities with lots of people in them. But how many companies are like that now? My research shows that over 80% of employees now work outside the corporate headquarters, primarily in branch offices, and that’s where the main problems are for the current controller led model.

One of Katy Perry’s first hits was a song called “Hot N Cold” where she sings “Cause you’re hot then you’re cold, you’re yes then you’re no, you’re in there you’re out you’re up and you’re down…” The video actually shows her going through different waves of emotion from joy at her wedding to confusion when they break up, and to anger later. I contend that the wedding was a mere analogy for her frustrations with wireless LAN technology.



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