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

Posts Tagged ‘Corporate Issues’

For decades now, Cisco has been the single biggest factor in driving network change. Over the years, the company has been aggressive with VoIP, PoE, MPLS, wireless LAN and most recently converged infrastructure, and has gained a significant early-move advantage. However, when it comes to software-defined networks, I think it’s fair to say that Cisco has lagged in both technology and vision, and has let the likes of VMware, Arista and Big Switch get out in front and carry much of the messaging.

Yesterday though, CEO John Chambers effectively grabbed the throats of many of the smaller, SDN pure-plays, and stated “Where are your rebel friends now?” at the company’s Application Centric Infrastructure event in New York. Specifically, the company, to no surprise, announced at the event that it was acquiring the remained of spin-in Insieme following a similar path to what we saw with Nuova and Andiamo, and went through its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) vision.

Getting into the details, ACI is certainly a bold vision for the industry. It promises a unified, single point of control and visibility for the management and provisioning of virtual and physical infrastructure. This would mean networking, compute, storage, virtual machines, application services and security all manage a single entity.

One of the primary value propositions of Software Defined Networks (SDNs) is that it optimizes the performance of the applications that run on networks today. However, almost all of the SDN-related products that have been released to date operate at layer 2/3 which, of course, have no direct relevance to applications. I agree that if there’s congestion or something else impacting performance at those lower layers, applications themselves will be impacted, but for the most part, the world of applications and networks have been managed in independent silos.

To help bridge this gap between applications and networks, many network managers, data center folks and even some application developers have turned to application delivery controllers (ADCs). The ADC speaks both the language of networks and applications and can be thought of as the “Rosetta stone” of IT, and plays a key role in enterprises’ ability to roll out applications rapidly and keep them performing optimally.

However, SDNs have recently turned the networking world upside down. Things that were physical are now software-based and virtual. Networking has a level of dynamism that has never been seen before. This trend has raised the question of what the role of the ADC is in this new virtual, software-driven world.

The first ever Internet of Things World Forum was held in Barcelona over the last week of October. If there was any doubt, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a very real trend and it’s just a matter of time before IoT has a significant impact on the way we live our lives. These were the top 10 companies on display at the World Forum, many of which are helping IoT move from vision to reality.

10. Freescale – Freescale Semiconductor is an IoT enabler that makes embedded processing solutions for automotive, consumer and industrial markets. Freescale has a variety of technologies, such as microprocessors, microcontrollers, sensors and integrated circuits, that can be considered the foundational components of IoT. Freescale technologies are currently being used in connected cars, medical equipment, consumer appliances and energy management solutions.

9. Grundfos – This IoT-related company is a leader in advanced pump solutions and touts itself as a “trendsetter” in water technology. When I first saw this, I thought it was a bit boring, but heck, we all need water and the more efficiently it can be processed and made available, the better off the world is. Grundfos has holistic water management and pump solutions that can communicate the status of water processing and automatically adapt when required. The company also provides a significant amount of data that can be further analyzed for ongoing improvements.

This week, Cisco hosted the inaugural Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona, Spain. The event had a little under 800 attendees, which I thought was a great turnout for a first year event. There was a very diverse set of vendors at the event, ranging from traditional IT companies like Cisco, Oracle and SAP to a number of companies that IT people have likely never heard of, such as Grundfos, QnetiQ and AGT International. As diverse as the companies were, though, they all had one thing in common – the belief that when you live in a world where everything is connected, it significantly changes the way we live, learn and play.

I seriously doubt there is any kind of universal “killer application” for the IoT, rather a set of “deadly” applications with killer-ish qualities in certain verticals. The key verticals that I see adopting IoT are city governments, retail, oil and gas, finance, healthcare, gaming and transportation. All of these verticals have processes with significant amounts of human latency, which could be streamlined or even automated. Additionally, there are a number of new ways to do business through the connection of “things” and the analysis of data.

Cisco held its annual Collaboration Summit this week in Boca Raton, Florida. This year’s event was, in many ways, the coming-out party for the newly appointed GM and SVP for the Collaboration Business Unit, Rowan Trollope. In his opening remarks, Trollope was refreshingly frank about the challenges in the UC industry today and how complexity and a lack of user-friendly solutions have held the industry back from mass adoption. Solving these challenges was the underlying theme of the conference, as the majority of product releases and announcements were focused on extending UC past the traditional corporate walls and making them easier to use.

One of the more interesting products announced was Cisco Expressway, which can be thought of as an edge gateway that makes it possible to extend Cisco UC outside the company boundary securely without the need for VPN concentrators, device level registration, passwords, etc.

Typically, UC is deployed to internal workers, but if someone outside the company network wanted to use Cisco UC applications, they would need to create a VPN tunnel between the remote location and a company location. With Expressway, a Cisco device or application, such as a Jabber client or IP phone, would point to Expressway and handle the secure connection between the outside world and inside network. This is ideal for home workers, small branch offices and B2B connections. No VPNs, no passwords, no device registration – just deploy it and use it.

Oracle World 2013 finished up a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the event. On the Wednesday of the event I spoke at a luncheon hosted by the former Acme Packet Group, which was acquired by Oracle earlier this year. I hadn’t been to Oracle World in a number of years and I wasn’t sure what to expect given the fact that historically Oracle and communications went together about as well as Larry Ellison and Bill Gates.

However, things are changing and everyone is jockeying to move into other markets. That’s why Cisco sells servers and HP sells networking gear. Since Ellison chose to go watch his ship race rather than show up to his own keynote, I have no idea whether he was going to mention communications or not, but make no mistake, Oracle has moved into communications and is here to stay.

Much of the focus of the Acme Packet lunch was on SIP trunking, which was highlighted by a large customer of theirs that had recently migrated the company to all SIP trunks and talked about some of the best practices regarding the migration.

Akamai is holding its Edge user conference this week in our nation’s capital. There may not be much going on in Washington these days, other than arguing over whether the Washington Redskins should change their name or not, but there appears to be a lot going on between Akamai and Cisco.

At the event, Akamai announced that it would be integrating its Unified Performance technology into Cisco’s ISR-AX branch routers to optimize WAN performance and hybrid cloud performance. The partnership extends Cisco’s Intelligent WAN or IWAN, solutions designed to deliver a wide area network that is cost-effective but still optimizes the performance of web- and business-critical applications.

Cisco’s IWAN offerings currently consist of WAN optimization, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), security and other optimization techniques. This partnership extends the Akamai caching and content delivery capabilities to the branch by effectively making every Cisco ISR-AX a mini Akamai point of presence.



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