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Posts Tagged ‘Corporate Issues’

This week, Cisco held its annual Cisco Live Europe Event in Milan. At the show, the company introduced a number of new products, including the Cisco APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) Enterprise Module that brings the benefits of software defined networks to the WAN and access edge. This announcement follows on the heels of its November launch, where Cisco announced the long-awaited acquisition of Insieme and unveiled the APIC controller for the data center.

The focus on the access edge and WAN is an interesting move for Cisco, as almost the entire SDN market has pointed their guns at the data center. Why? Well the data center has been through a tremendous amount of change. Private cloud, virtualization, NFV, more applications and other trends have made the data center a veritable cornucopia of changes that puts a heavy emphasis on the network. Now the network needs to be more agile, flexible and dynamic. Hence the intense focus from the vendor community.

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Queue up F5’s CEO of John McAdam as he prepares to address Wall Street for the company’s quarterly call to discuss the state of the business. Out he comes and is asked to walk everyone through the past quarter. He goes off on a rant and shouts, “We’re the best ADC in the game! When you try us with a sorry ADC like Netscaler, that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about F5 or I’ll shut you up!”

That, of course, didn’t happen, but the tech industry would be a whole lot more interesting if tech CEOs acted more like the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and beat their chests a little more. This was a quarter where F5 could have gotten away with it.

Over the past year, the former darling of the tech industry had fallen on hard times. The business had slowed down and the stock had dipped below $70/share, a number it hadn’t been at since 2010. This prompted many to wonder if F5’s best days were behind them, partially due to the fact that Citrix had stepped up the competitive pressure through its Cisco partnership.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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