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Arista Networks’ EOS CloudVision software platform aims
to make the benefits of SDN a reality for the enterprise.

The term “software defined networking” (SDN) certainly means different things to different people. To the giant web companies, SDN means having the ability to create custom network software to enable functions that are unique to that organization. This requires dedicated software engineers and a networking team large enough to run and support the custom networks. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 companies that have the resources, size, and scale for this model of SDN to make sense.

For businesses below this tier – service providers and enterprises – SDN means the promise of automation and cloud scale but also a high level of complexity, sometimes more complexity than the original network. A good rule of thumb for IT initiatives is that solutions should never be more complicated than the problem they’re intended to solve. This is one reason SDN deployments have been slow despite the fact that almost every organization I talk to today is interested in the technology. For SDNs to become pervasive in the non-web-scale tier, they must become easier to deploy.

By acquiring Glip, this cloud communications
company lands a spot in the emerging ‘workstream
collaboration and communications’ market.

Last week, as reported on No Jitter, RingCentral acquired Glip to move into what’s broadly known as the business messaging market. The solutions in this product class actually do much more than messaging and, after hours of discussions, my fellow industry watcher Dave Michels, TalkingPointz analyst, and I have settled on the name of “workstream collaboration and communications,” or WCC.

As Dave pointed out on Monday in his No Jitter post, “Making Enterprise Communications More Than Unified,” WCC solutions are designed for distributed and agile teams that need to make decisions or complete tasks quickly. Another important thing to understand about WCC is that the tools are rarely deployed as an IT initiative. Rather, the adoption tends to be viral by workers who want to use the tool instead of having the tool thrust upon them.

Highlighting the winner of the 2015 ‘SDN Idol’
award at this year’s Open Networking Summit.

This week the fifth Open Networking Summit was held in Santa Clara, the heart of Silicon Valley. As in years past, the event held an “SDN Idol” competition where several vendors entered an SDN-related product for a set of judges to vote on to create a set of finalists. The four finalists then demonstrated their entries at the event and a final winner was chosen.

In addition to myself, the judges included Jim Smith, GM of Mohr Davidow Ventures, Tom Anschutz, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff for AT&T, and Geng Lin, CTO of Corporate Networks for Google. The judging criteria involved understanding the business value, technology value, and differentiation against the competition.

The four finalists for the SDN Idol track were:

Four reasons why now is the time to upgrade to 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi.

Credit: flickr/mista stagga lee

If you’re a fan of 70s music, particularly Canadian artists, you are probably familiar with the great singer Burton Cummings. In the late 70s he released a song called “My own way to rock” that started: “Revving up my engine, like a 747 mama, shiny, lanky, long and lean, and I’m mean.” When Cummings wrote this song, I’m sure he was talking about the impact of digital transformation that would come 40 years later and how businesses need to be lean, mean, agile machines to leapfrog the competition.

A look at how engineered solutions are helping transform IT.

The topic of converged infrastructure has been red hot over the past five years. In fact, it’s had such strong momentum that the tech industry evolved its products, and now we have “hyperconverged” systems. The drivers for converged and hyperconverged systems are that they can reduce the cost of hardware and the deployment time of the infrastructure. Given the tightening of the budget belt, along with ZK Research’s estimate that 83% of IT spend is devoted to keeping the lights on, it makes sense that business would want to invest in these types of solutions (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research).

However, as powerful as converged systems are, the value is limited to reducing costs. As the industry moves out of this cost-reduction phase and into digitization, IT should be just as concerned with speed as it is with cost. The challenge for IT is that the complexity of deploying and managing infrastructure is only getting worse. The converged systems help a little bit, but the issues plaguing IT are not limited to infrastructure deployment. Digital transformation requires companies to move at cloud speed, and that can’t be done if IT is constantly tuning and tweaking the software that attaches to the converged systems or the systems themselves to accommodate changes in the software.

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