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

Posts Tagged ‘network management’

All eyes are on Orlando, Florida, this week as Cisco Live gets underway. With all due respect to Interop, the show formerly known as Networkers has become the place to be if you want to learn what’s going on in networking, with over 20,000 in attendances this year. I don’t think anyone would deny the fact that virtualization has become a huge issue for not just server managers but also network managers. In fact, in last year’s ZK Research/Tech Target network purchase intention survey, we asked what technology product was consuming more time and resources compared to the year prior. Server virtualization was the No. 1 response, with over 31% of respondents showing just how big an impact virtualization is having with network managers.

Just a few short years ago, network managers couldn’t have cared less about server virtualization, as it was a technology that was used to improve the utilization of servers and had little impact on the network. Obviously, things have changed significantly over the past few years as the use of virtualization technology has expanded past consolidation.

In networking, there’s no hotter place to be than in the data center. We’ve seen many of the traditional vendors attacking this marketing with bigger, faster and denser core switches, each trying to one-up the other. However, the startup activity has been at the top of rack (ToR) as these new companies are trying to disrupt the status quo with software-based solutions. Not software combined with hardware, but software running on an off-the-shelf switch from one of the many ODMs that are out there.

This week, Cumulus Networks came out of hiding with its Linux-based operating system designed for data centers where programmability is the differentiator. Cumulus, like other ToR vendors that came before it, such as Pica8, Plexxi and Pluribus, uses a “white box” and dedicates all of its development energy on software, leaving the hardware design to the guys who can do it faster and cheaper than a startup could.

I’m not sure there’s a city that’s more synonymous with fun than New Orleans. The home of Mardi Gras, several Super Bowls, Bourbon Street and Jazz Festivals is always a great place to visit if you’re looking to have some great entertainment. Well, there’s an event that tops all of them for fun, and that’s Microsoft’s North American Tech Ed event.

Tech Ed is the event to go to if you’re a Microsoft professional or developer. It’s the most fun and happening place if you’re looking to learn about the latest and greatest in the world of Microsoft. Two of the hotter areas of interest for the Microsoft professional today are the cloud and virtualization. At this year’s Tech Ed, Application Deliver Controller vendor F5 is demonstrating new features that can bridge the gap between the physical, virtual and cloud environments.

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.

There’s a Katy Perry Song called “Waking Up in Vegas” in which the young Miss Perry sings “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is / that’s what you get for waking up in Vegas.” That first line, “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is,” should be the theme for Interop. Vendors all across the network market come to Mandalay Bay to show off their latest products and impress buyers, channel partners, media and Wall Street. The following is a list of vendors that I thought did indeed put their money where their mouth is (listed alphabetically):

Arista: Putting your money where your mouth is can be difficult most of the time, but it’s even more difficult when the mouth belongs to the enigmatic Doug Gourlay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Doug, he’s the marketing equivalent of Terrell Owens. He talks a lot, but normally delivers. Arista and Doug are constantly yapping about performance and the new 7500E Data Center switch certainly didn’t disappoint. This is one monster of a switch with off-the-charts high-speed port density. In a quarter rack, the 7500E has a port density of 1,152 10 Gig-E ports, 288 40 Gig-E ports, or 96 100 Gig-E ports. Remember, these densities are in a quarter rack. The product is also optimized for the virtual data center with VXLAN termination and a bunch of other features.

Well, the 2013 version of Interop is now in the books and while conventional wisdom dictates that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” I thought there were a number of themes at the show that rose above the general noise of the event and are worth sharing. In no particular order, these themes were:

  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) needs a better definition. It’s amazing to me the number of vendors that now claim to be in the SDN market. It seems that if a vendor is programmable, virtual or software-based, it can claim to be an SDN vendor. When you look at these attributes, who doesn’t fall into one of these categories? And when a definition is so broad that it means everything, it actually means nothing. There’s certainly a common theme that all the vendors talk about – legacy networks are complicated and rigid and this is out of alignment with the rest of IT. How this gets solved is still up for debate, and SDNs will not become a pervasive technology until the debate is at least partially answered.

It feels like Cisco has been retooling the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) for the better part of a decade now. The program got life when the company acquired Metreos and Cisco put together a program called Cisco Technology Developer Program (CTDP) to build applications for the IP phone. There may be some of you chuckling at that notion, but many have thought (myself included) that there was indeed a market for such applications. Well, that never materialized, and CTDP evolved into what’s now known as CDN. The collaboration group at Cisco is focused not on IP phone apps but business apps with video, Jabber and VoIP integration.

However, CDN isn’t just related to collaboration – it’s supposed to be Cisco-wide. One of the biggest questions I’ve always had with CDN, and I’ve been a critic of it in the past, is what value the program has to the company outside of the collaboration space, particularly to the network. Cisco’s network infrastructure does have many building blocks for third parties, such as NBAR, PfR and flexible Netflow, but they haven’t been as widely utilized by third parties as I would have thought by now.



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