Process is Critical for a Multi-Vendor SDN

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

  • SDN will create varying degrees of product dependencies for enterprises.
  • Enterprises need to plan for and create processes that support multi-vendor SDN.

It’s no secret that I think SDN Will Lock Enterprises in Tighter Than Ever because of the dependencies that are built up with software integration and I don’t think many enterprises have quite grasped the amount of stickiness software integration has.

Naturally, there is a continuum of SDN implementations, ranging from very basic integration with just enough touch to automate networking provisioning for VMs to fully automated, application-level provisioning that includes service chaining and follow-me functions for traffic monitoring and packet capture, and seamless integration of physical networking without the intervention of a human operator. Depending on where an enterprise is on that continuum the amount of stickiness will vary from “not much” to “a great deal”. Read more of this post

Does Cloud-Scaling Really Demand a New Ethernet Speed Standard?

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet has been around for over a decade, but sales of 10GbE ports are only beginning to move the needle seriously in terms of sales. This is, in part, because many server vendors are finally offering on-board 10GbE LoM ports.
  • While this type of incremental Ethernet speed advancement might provide benefits at the mega-data center level, it is hard to imagine how the introduction of another set of “open” standards will be of value to the IT industry as a whole, especially given the length of time it takes for these standards to gain acceptance and wide-scale adoption.

On July 1, 2014, a quintet of technology companies – Arista, Broadcom, Google, Mellanox, and Microsoft – announced the formation of the 25G Ethernet Consortium to support a new 25GbE single-lane and 50GbE dual-lane standard targeted at server to top-of-rack switching. This interesting approach appears to circumvent the typical standards process of the IEEE, or even the IETF, by saying that this new standard will be “open” – a word I’m REALLY starting to dislike – “while leveraging many of the same fundamental technologies and behaviors already defined by the IEEE 802.3 standard,” without even bothering to submit it for comment. Well, I suppose close counts. Read more of this post

Wearable Computing Will Forever Alter Collaboration, But Not How You Might Think

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • What does Google’s Android Wear mean for enterprise IT and for collaboration vendors?
  • The surprising conjunction of wearable computing and predictive analytics foretells an interesting future where collaboration is driven not by the best interface but by the best intuition.

I’ll say it. I’m a certified, card carrying WIS, a “Watch Idiot Savant” to be specific. I wear a watch 24×7, usually a mainspring driven mechanical piece of what I consider to be wearable art. So it was by no means easy for me to set all of that mechanistic pomposity aside and don one of Google’s new and somewhat awkward Android Wear-based smart watches. But that’s exactly what I did and have done for the past five days, happily sticking with this homely, underpowered and sometimes demanding wrist adornment. What did I learn? First, I’ll most likely need to turn in my WIS card. Second, I’m no longer a slave to my mobile phone. And third, the future of collaboration in the enterprise will no longer be driven by the best interface, but instead it will be ruled by the best intuition. Read more of this post

Demystifying IoT – What It Means to You

Harish Taori

Harish Taori

Summary Bullets:

  • IoT expands the meaning and value of the Internet as more physical objects (i.e., sensors, actuators, devices, modules and new age systems) will be connected to the internet and accessible through Internet protocols or web services. It will enable humans/software programs to analyze data, evaluate patterns and take predictive or preventive actions based on the derived intelligence.
  • In addition to consumers, utilities, energy, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and retail were early adopters of M2M and may start piloting IoT applications as supply side economics make sense. The IoT ecosystem is getting ready for enterprises to innovate business models and improve operational efficiency.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data were among the key ICT themes that dominated the majority of panel discussions and presentations at CommunicAsia 2014. Both buzzwords, in addition to cloud and social, are often the current topic of discussions in IT circles. I chaired a panel discussion on IoT and will be using that session in this blog in an attempt to demystify IoT.
IoT is a natural evolution of Internet and machine to machine (M2M), which find its roots in industrial automation. It not only further integrates the physical world with the digital world, but also enables machines to learn from the events and become smarter by gaining predictive and cognitive capabilities. Machine learning will play important role in gaining these capabilities through data mining, statistical modeling and artificial intelligence. The IoT ecosystem will enable companies and consumers to create and enjoy new services that are founded on web-based business models. Read more of this post

Google’s Android and Google Play Apps Still Risky as Ever, but There Is Hope on the Horizon

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • New vulnerability exposures highlight the continuing riskiness of enabling the use of Android devices within the enterprise, but carefully crafted BYOD policies can reduce that risk.
  • Google needs to step up its mobile security practices if it truly wants to be an enterprise player.

The steady drumbeat of news regarding Android security weaknesses – whether in the OS or the applications that run on it – does not seem to be having much of an impact on Google’s security practices. It should be well known by now that the vast majority of mobile malware targets Android devices. Earlier this year, endpoint security firm F-Secure found that 99% of new mobile malware targeted Android. This week, it was revealed that most versions of Android in use today include a vulnerability that enables rogue apps to make unauthorized calls or disrupt ongoing legitimate calls. Although Google fixed the flaw in the Android version 4.4.4 that it released last month, very few Android devices run that version. Moreover, given the slow rate at which Android devices are patched or upgraded to the latest version of the OS, the vulnerability could continue to haunt the vast majority of Android smartphones for some time to come. IT, as it crafts its policies for personal smartphone use in the enterprise, can address that issue by requiring users to keep their device OS up to date in order to gain access to the enterprise network from their smartphones. IT can also investigate which handset makers are faster at upgrading their Android device’s mobile OS and put those devices on a list of acceptable smartphones for use within the enterprise. My colleague and mobile device maven Avi Greengart tells me that both Motorola and HTC have formal pledges to rapidly update Android. Other IT folks may go so far as to allow only Apple iOS devices to access corporate networks in their BYOD policies. Read more of this post

Mobile Operator M2M App Development Strategies

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile operators do not usually build M2M apps from scratch. Building custom solutions is expensive, doesn’t scale and is not really in most operators’ set of core competencies.
  • So how do operators ensure a robust portfolio of M2M solutions across multiple verticals and use cases?

We asked several mobile operators about their M2M application development strategies and partner ecosystems – do they have a formal program to find and seed ecosystem partners? How many partners and what kind of partners have they brought in? How successful have they been with their approach?

Read more of this post

Which Is Better: Automation or SDN?

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • You can use automation without software-defined networking (SDN), but you cannot use SDN without automation.
  • Many enterprises will gain enough benefits from automation and may not need to migrate to SDN.

The answer, of course, is whatever option works for you is the one that’s best, but that is a little too facile, so let’s dig in a bit. Automating operations such as scripting configuration changes and responding to events has enormous value for any IT department. When I actually worked in a data center, my rule of thumb was: if I did something more than three times in a month, I’d automate it, including the little atomic actions such as changing the syslog entries on a switch which could take as many as five to seven command line entries. Automation saved me hours, perhaps days, per month executing configuration changes (and even more because I had far fewer errors). Read more of this post

Making the Case for the Security Budget Requires Creativity and Clear Communication

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • When making the case for the security budget, it is critical to find metrics that succinctly describe the value of information security and do so in business terms.
  • One of the most common methods is benchmarking against peers, although obtaining such information is not easy.

The perennial problem of how to obtain the funding necessary to keep critical enterprise assets secure is a frequent subject whenever IT security executives get together. Judging by a few surveys conducted over the last year, it appears for the most part that security budgets are increasing. A PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Information Security Survey published late in 2013 found a 51% increase in the size of security budgets over the previous year among the 9,600 executives it surveyed. The average budget was $4.3 million – almost double the average reported in the same survey for 2010. Read more of this post

Web Client Accelerators Evolve into Cloud Applications Acceleration

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • The underlying caching and content acceleration concepts developed by turbo-charged dialup Internet services have found new life, addressing unpredictable wireless connectivity.
  • These tools had a low profile among enterprises until Sprint Cloud Optimizer, which improves the Microsoft Office 365 experience for roaming workers.

Anyone who has been following Internet trends in the past decade will likely remember web accelerators, which stretched the shelf life of dialup and low-speed broadband Internet access. These services were installed on desktop computers and used a combination of tricks – such as prefetching and caching content, compressing images and data, and optimizing TCP – to achieve a perceived fivefold or greater performance throughput. A similar grouping of caching and acceleration technologies launched the WAN optimization business, using dedicated devices at the customer premises. Read more of this post

U.S. Mobile Operators Fall into Two Camps, Relating to Target Segment

  • Kathryn Weldon

    Kathryn Weldon

    After completing our bi-annual set of enterprise mobility briefings from the four major U.S. mobile operators, it is clear to Current Analysis that they are separating into two “camps”

  • AT&T and Verizon (while also having SMB and mid-market product strategies) have their eyes primarily focused on the enterprise, and increasingly, the MNC; Sprint and T-Mobile may dabble a bit in all segments, but now state overtly that their sweet spot is the SMB and mid-market customer

All four major U.S. mobile operators can theoretically attract business customers of all sizes and verticals, including MNCs with U.S. operations. While perhaps it has been obvious all along, however, Sprint and T-Mobile are now very clearly stating that they are really targeting the SMB and mid-market customer. They may attract an enterprise here and there but these deals are more opportunistic. Making this clearer is actually helpful – it is not fair to judge Sprint and T-Mobile against AT&T and Verizon for successfully drawing a large enterprise or MNC customer base. Sprint and T-Mobile lack not only the fixed line infrastructure (although Sprint still has a global MPLS network and offers U.S. wireline services such as Ethernet and IP VPNs) but they lack the resources relating to large managed and professional services groups, significant hosting infrastructure, global sales personnel, giant global data centers, managed security services, deep vertical expertise, consulting etc.). In fact Sprint and T-Mobile are proud of this positioning. T-Mobile’s disruptive ‘Un-carrier’ strategy centers around the shaking up of the industry with programs that include the removal of annual contracts, the end of global roaming charges, free tablet data, paid-off ETFs from other carriers, and a growing set of innovative price plans and services. Both Sprint and T-Mobile still offer unlimited data plans and Sprint is building out not only 4G LTE, but its own superfast version that leverages its three spectrum bands. Read more of this post

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