Instead of Waiting on Ideas Like IoT, How About Building the Internet of Data Today?

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • The vast amounts of data promised with big data efforts like IoT will greatly increase our ability for rapidly and correctly predicting the best way to run our businesses.
  • Yet, that’s nothing compared to the value currently locked away within closed data repositories. And it’s high time we opened those up.

Anyone familiar with the popular Waze mobile app (now owned by Google) understands the power of data not just collected, but data shared. Originally, this clever mobile app encouraged users to personally report on traffic loads, construction delays, even gas prices. The collective, net results were maps accessible to all Waze users, maps made more powerful and much more accurate through this shared data. Read more of this post

What Matters Most in Networking with Custom or Merchant Silicon

  • Mike Fratto

    Mike Fratto

    The debate over custom and merchant silicon is an old one, but it’s gaining steam driven by developments in software.

  • What matters to IT buyers is that the product provides adequate performance, and vendors using custom silicon need to make their case.

There is something of an intellectual debate occurring in networking over the need of custom versus merchant silicon. It’s not a particularly new debate, but the rise of white box switching, an ever increasing number of switching products coming to market using merchant silicon and the increased focus of software for both advanced features as well as tight integration with the rest of the environment is making the debate far more relevant. Read more of this post

Cloud Leaders’ Advanced Microservice Agendas Illustrate Importance of PaaS

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud leaders VMware and Microsoft separately announce new microservices including containerization management and orchestration.
  • Currently, there is no better example highlighting the importance of PaaS than microservices, given their ability to simplify and automate the ‘under the covers’ tasks of app development/management such as ensuring scalability of high-performance and/or high-demand applications.

Two cloud heavyweights, VMware and Microsoft, have introduced their microservice efforts, unveiling unique strategies aimed at offering enterprises scalable cloud services. Numerous application platform and cloud providers are racing to build out their microservice architectures which intercept SOA and API technologies, an approach which decomposes complex applications into independent processes exposed through APIs. Currently, there is no better example highlighting the importance of PaaS than microservices for their ability to simplify and automate the ‘under the covers’ tasks of app development/management such as ensuring scalability of high-performance and/or high-demand applications. Read more of this post

Shaping the IVR of the Future Will Require New Technology and Some Common Sense

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As any customer service satisfaction survey will reveal, today’s interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which were designed to encourage self-service, cut costs and speed up interactions, are brimming with problems and often result in an increase in customer calls to live agents and diminished overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • While there has clearly been an increase in the technological tools and data applications available to boost IVR performance, it is also clear that common sense often remains the key missing ingredient in many implementations.

As I have discussed in previous blogs, despite the intent to make customer service faster and better, I believe IVR systems continue to cause more problems than they fix in today’s customer service marketplace. Without a doubt, they continue to be the source of a growing amount of frustration in the minds of the customers they were designed to help. While there is little doubt that the expanding set of technological advances ranging from the ubiquitous nature of cloud applications and services to the availability of big data analysis and context-related personalization will help, we should not overlook the benefits of common sense to improve customer service using today’s available tools and those yet to be introduced. Read more of this post

Coming Sooner or Later: The First Fully Virtualized Global Carrier

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Can a startup build global WAN facilities using nothing but the cloud? It may be impractical, but economics are trending toward possible.
  • Despite serious roadblocks today, the idea of sourcing/scaling facilities on-demand, and using them on a pay-as-you-use basis, seems tempting.

As a thought exercise, imagine what network function virtualization (NFV) will look like when the technology reaches its theoretical end state. Instead of switch/routers running on purpose-built hardware, the routing function could run entirely on software in virtual machines. These virtual machines in turn run on generic high-performance computing platforms located in large regional data centers and strategically distributed worldwide. What’s more, those large regional data centers happen to have plenty of competitive fiber linking them. That means plenty of carrier competitors to offer commodity priced, flexible high-performance switched Ethernet connectivity between sites. The result is a completely virtual global WAN operator, one that can ramp up and tear down both router horsepower and corresponding capacity, based on customer need. There would be no networking sunk costs – the primary investment would be in orchestration software, and in operations support/billing systems. Read more of this post

Mobile App Framework Powerhouses, Adobe and Sencha, Take Two Different Marketing Approaches

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

• The red hot application development framework market continues to thrive with two major announcements this past week, both aimed at helping enterprises more quickly and efficiently tackle their backlog of mobile app development projects in an effort to transform businesses.

• Both Adobe and Sencha represent leading mobile development framework providers, catering to JavaScript developers, but each has taken a different tack in their product positioning. Sencha, speaking this week to hundreds of its loyal following of developers during SenchaCon, targets the sophisticated Web based developers with advanced tools, while Adobe is reshaping its authoring tools via marketer-oriented analytics to help business users deliver continuous mobile app content.

Adobe is leveraging its mobile services to go after marketer customers looking to build business opportunity, largely by leveraging authoring tools with analytics that help them understand and react to users’ buying habits. In a strategic move to remain competitive, Adobe has merged its application development framework with its MEAP/MADP technology under the wing of Adobe Digital Marketing, highlighting the importance of the business user needs in keeping mobile apps updated. Mobile Services, part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, is a comprehensive mobile application lifecycle including app development and management technology as well as an ecosystem for partner technologies will enhance its overall offering. At the heart of the mobile services are Adobe Experience Manager Apps and Adobe PhoneGap Enterprise, Adobe Analytics (Mobile Apps and Adobe Target), and various app tools from partners.

Sencha completed the merging of two of its flagship app development tools into a unified platform that supports web-based app development for any device/screen. Sencha Web Application Lifecycle Management Platform extends web app development tools from desktop to mobile development, while addressing lifecycle management issues such as analytics and debugging. The company’s merging of its popular JavaScript web development framework, Sencha Ext JS v6 with Sencha Space management solution addresses key complexity issues involved in the front-end mobile app design, development, and deployment process. The move also helps Sencha gain the attention of CIOs and IT departments because the new platform, including application management capabilities, supports standardization of app development across all platforms throughout the enterprise.

Despite their different go-to-market methods, both companies agree that key to success is their ability to attract the attention of CIO/IT departments in a top-down approach, versus continuing to merely attract developers with best-of-breed tools and platforms through a bottoms-up approach.

As proof of this trend, last fall, all the major application platforms conferences featured announcements around application development frameworks, helping illustrate the importance of the role of front-end tools in helping enterprise developers create compelling applications that help transform their businesses and remain competitive. (Please see Next-gen Development Frameworks Drive Democratization of App Development, October 23, 2014).

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Amazon Undercuts Rivals on Storage Prices

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Once again, Amazon is playing the role of market disruptor with its new cut-rate pricing plan for unlimited storage.
  • Cloud Drive’s deep price cuts are certain to have a big impact; competitors including Google, Box, and Dropbox will have to respond.

Amazon making a price cut is hardly news, given its cloud services arm’s penchant for dropping its fees. However, when the retailer reduces the annual fee for unlimited storage to $59.99, the market takes notice. Cloud Drive has no restrictions on the number of users and no ceiling on the size of an individual file. This low-cost, unlimited storage plan will have broad appeal to both businesses and consumers. Read more of this post

A Data Center Oasis in the Sands of Las Vegas

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

• Much attention is paid to the hardware infrastructure within your data center, but many of the long term energy savings can be gained through optimizing the architecture of the data center itself.• There are a number of high-efficiency, data center designs available for companies looking to build out an extremely scalable and efficient data center. The challenge lies in finding the best possible combination of location, security, fault protection, energy efficiency and availability of connectivity; and sometimes it really pays to think outside the box.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a huge nerd that really enjoys visiting data centers. There’s something about the rows and rows of humming systems, the graceful elegance of a well-crafted cable bundle, and the blinkenlights…the blinkenlights. Anyway, a few weeks back I had the opportunity to tour a data center hosting facility in Las Vegas called SUPERNAP, designed and run by a company named Switch. My first thought was “Why, of all places Las Vegas?”, but this–along with every other question I could possibly think of—was answered during a two-hour tour of one of the most remarkable data center facilities I’ve ever seen.

The SUPERNAP hides in plain sight, tucked into a warehouse-y section of Las Vegas, but don’t try to look it up in Google Maps because it won’t show up. That’s only part of the world-class security they’ve built around the facility that starts with state of the art intrusion prevention systems and carries over to the extremely polite but well-armed security guard that trailed my host and I throughout the visit. Over the top, you say? Well, not really if you consider the expectations of the broad range of very serious customers that occupy the neatly caged rows upon rows upon rows of data center hardware they protect. In fact, I would say that almost everything about the SUPERNAP is over the top as part of an extremely well-planned and executed design; and that’s the way it should be.

So, what’s the big deal? Aren’t all mega-data centers the same? In some ways, yes, the problems of powering, cooling and protecting large data centers are pretty much universal, but the difference lies in how Switch and its founder Rob Roy chose to manage those challenges. Rather than basing his design around existing technology, he approached the problem from a completely fresh angle. The resulting SUPERNAP was a combination of intelligent industrial design and common sense that resulted in a purpose-built facility that’s more of a data center hosting machine rather than a mere building. When Roy learned that existing cooling systems weren’t up to the task of handling a 400,000 square foot facility with a 100-megawatt power envelope, Switch created and patented its own super-efficient and redundant 1,000-ton air handlers, plus a building-level cooling system that incorporates fans with an integrated, 500lb flywheel that will continue to spin for an hour after the loss of power. When traditional power system designs didn’t meet their strict criteria for stability and redundancy, Switch designed new ones that did. And when existing construction design and building techniques didn’t pass muster, Switch created new ones optimized for the specific nature and dynamic growth requirements of the data center facilities they envisioned.

The result is a data center environment that can easily support oversized racks with power consumption that exceeds 30Kw per rack, which means that customers can fit far more gear in less floor space, but this is only the beginning of the benefits the SUPERNAP’s economy of scale offers to customers. Another catalyst for the creation of the SUPERNAP design came when Mr. Roy was smart enough to snap up all the broadband contracts that were liquidated when Enron went belly-up. In the early 2000s, Enron was in the process of building out a communications network that it could market as another commodity and had convinced over 40 major carriers to hub in Las Vegas (ah-hah!), because of its geological stability and proximity to power resources. Switch was in the right place at the right time when Enron foundered. The growth of SUPERNAP has also made it one of the top power consumers in Nevada, and as such the state has given it the ability to negotiate its own power contracts, which come from a combination of traditional generation facilities as well as from solar, wind, geo-thermal and hydro-electric sources. The result is that SUPERNAP customers gain the benefit of Switch’s combined, $2 trillion buying power through cooperative programs for network, power and cloud services; and available whether customers are running a single rack or a thousand.

I’ve had the pleasure of touring a number of really great data centers around the world, but none so far have compared to the remarkable combination of intelligent architectural design, technology innovation and attention to detail that I experienced on my tour of the SUPERNAP. I would guess I’m not alone in my appreciation of the facility-Switch has an impressive list of over 1,000 customers that include logos like eBay, MGM, DreamWorks, Sony and Intuit; plus a number of high-security entities it would never divulge. And Switch does this while remaining fiercely independent and system vendor-agnostic; it’s obvious its key interest is in providing the best possible data center hosting facility possible. And, from all indications, in being extremely nice people to partner with. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I know where I wanna be.

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Getting Enterprises to Adopt White Box Switching Will Take a Sea Change

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises have better things to do than do than perform the heavy lifting white box switching requires, even if there is a CapEx savings.
  • A well-heeled VAR or integrator could step out with their own branded white box product line and offer real competition to vendors.

Enterprises are slow to change to new technologies because, without a compelling benefit—and often the comfort of knowing what their peers are doing—they see no need. When companies do make technological changes, they often do so with the help of a VAR, integrator, or consultant to help them along. Even the big multi-nationals will get lots of on-site assistance directly from a vendor during the trial period and when moving to production. Few enterprises are going to go it alone on a project migration that involves new technologies. When the market does move, the technology has often matured and implementers have enough experience that deployments are often manageable. Read more of this post

Enterprise Connect: It’s Not Completeness but Openness That Counts

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise communications and collaboration players Cisco, Unify, Interactive Intelligence and others launched and/or re-introduced highly unified (single pane of glass) collaborative experiences at Enterprise Connect.
  • While these solutions have made great strides combining all known collaborative modalities (voice, video, messaging, email, etc.), but the real magic awaits interoperability with both cloud services and the platforms upon which they run.

Honestly, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made the flight down to Orlando, Florida to visit with and learn from unified communications (UC) players Cisco, Unify, Microsoft, Avaya, and many, many more. Each year at Enterprise Connect, these industry movers look to both take the pulse of their enterprise customers (current and potential) and of course check up on what the competition is up to. Over the years, many things have changed technologically, particularly of late thanks to the cloud, disruptive ideas like WebRTC and asynchronous collaboration. Read more of this post

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