Asking ‘What’s the Point of SDN?’ and the Impact on Adoption

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Many enterprises are struggling to find a reason to invest in SDN when what they have in place works well enough.
  • There will not be a killer app for SDN.  Rather, enterprises will adopt SDN as their data centers needs evolve over time.

I recently attended and presented at the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress in Bod Homburg, Germany, and while I was there, I had a chance to talk to some enterprise IT attendees who were investigating SDN for their organizations.  The common question through most of the discussion was: “Why should I use a SDN?”  Luckily, I started my talk with that very question. Read more of this post

Contact Centre Services Give the Chance to Be Even More Agile for Enterprises Large and Small

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • The world of contact centres is changing quickly, with traditional on-premises solutions beginning to look inflexible and unwieldy.
  • A combination of multi-channel functionality and analytics tools can make contact centres powerful business solutions beyond customer service.

In previous blogs, I have written of the critical importance of customer service.  In particular, this has focused on the opportunities provided by viewing social media as an integral part of a company’s customer contact strategy – both for direct communication and picking up early signs of service interruptions.  If it isn’t working properly, somebody will have tweeted about it. Read more of this post

How European Providers are Leveraging the Network in Cloud Delivery

John Marcus

John Marcus

Summary Bullets:

  • When public cloud computing services first emerged several years ago, little focus was placed on the network, with the initial value proposition leveraging the Internet for connectivity between virtual machines hosted by providers and their end users. Flexibility, availability, and affordability drove early market adoption by user groups which place a high value on those service attributes.
  • Fast-forward to 2013, and widespread adoption of cloud is coming closer to reality. Widely felt concerns about security and stability are being addressed in infrastructure and software as a service (IaaS and SaaS) solutions being rolled out by network service providers especially. Increasingly, service providers are positioning the network as a core component of their cloud solutions, citing advantages from managed connectivity to integrated network functions.

Cloud based applications are only as strong as the connectivity they run over. The network-centric cloud is increasingly being positioned against the ‘best effort’ server-centric cloud model because it delivers network-based security, strong SLAs and enterprise-class performance.

Globally, providers like AT&T have emphasized the “network enabled cloud” for some time, while Verizon is the latest to use its managed network to address performance, management, and security issues in public and hybrid cloud services. In Europe, Interoute’s VDC IaaS service, for example, leverages the fabric of the network to create virtual data centers that integrate computing power with network resources. Its API automates the MPLS core, allowing cloud computing functions to leverage network resources in real time. Uniquely, the service can create any relationship between the VLAN of the computing and the WAN equivalent on the MPLS network (i.e., the VRF). For the customer, this means any physical data center architecture, corporate IT environment or major SaaS platform can be replicated automatically, online and in real time, and with exactly the same level of performance and security that is in place with a dedicated capability. Interoute is working on additional integration of network and compute which will allow any IP address to become part of the enterprise WAN, enjoying VDC-hosted IT services globally. Read more of this post

Highs and Lows of MobileCon

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:                

  • MobileCon, held from October 16-18th in San Jose, was the last trade show of its kind, as CTIA prepares to merge its bi-annual shows (roughly divided in 2013 into enterprise mobility this October and “everything else wireless” last spring) and re-emerge a bigger and better show next fall. Needless to say, there was a lot of the usual grumbling among exhibitors about lack of leads and many more vendors than buyers.
  • However, many of the leading enterprise MDM and mobile security vendors showed up to demo their wares, and a few really interesting companies appeared on analysts’ radar screens with innovative solutions. Carriers were largely absent, although Verizon demoed Isis/NFC-enabled payment solutions, and Sprint hosted a “hackathon” in which developers had a few hours to come up with reasonably usable mobile apps using state of the art development tools and enabler.

So if lack of enthusiasm and sales leads constituted the “low lights”, what were the highlights? For me they included talking to innovative companies like GLOBO and Macheen. GLOBO focuses on the nascent SMB BYOD segment and is a $100 million, 17 year old company traded on the London Stock Exchange. It has been white labeling to 20 operators in 30 countries a suite of services under the brand name of “GO!” which make features phones act like smartphones. This core business and its infrastructure provides GLOBO with capital for expansion into new areas. GLOBO now offers an app store downloadable GO Office application which provides a secure container, secure browser, secure camera utility, secure peer to peer messaging solution for team communications, and an application development utility called app zone in which codeless drag and drop apps can be deployed on all major OSs. GLOBO acquired a little-known MDM vendor named Notify, to provide it with a basic MDM platform as well. GLOBO also offers “Enterprise Mobility in a Box” for SMBs which includes all of the above plus ten Microsoft Office 365 licenses, for $699 a year with 10 Gig of cloud storage per device per year.  GLOBO has an SMB-friendly distribution channel, which includes Dell, Staples, Office Depot, and Tiger Direct, tech distributor Ingram Micro, and major league SIs such as IBM Global Services. Read more of this post

We Suspected Contact Centers Would Move to the Cloud; Now We Know Why

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Improved cloud-based contact center solutions as well as the CapEx-OpEx tradeoff argument appeared to be good enough reasons for some contact center managers to move their operations into the cloud.
  • In retrospect, based on feedback from companies that have made the shift, there are more reasons than we may have thought driving this shift, including some that may not have been seen beforehand.

I have written before on the potential benefits of cloud-based customer care solutions and the company attributes and vertical market requirements that, in many cases, made it a relatively simple decision to move contact center solutions to the cloud.  The most common identified drivers of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions were the increased number of technology solutions worthy of consideration and the budgeting advantages of paying a monthly fee versus making a large upfront capital expenditure on hardware and software.  In retrospect, and after discussing the topic with enterprise decision makers, system developers and several others involved in the customer care industry, I realized there may be several other drivers behind the trend to the cloud.  The list is probably longer than this and growing, but here are the additional reasons I have identified: Read more of this post

When Building for Big Data, Remember to Think Small

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • With a continued focus on top down, company-wide all-encompassing projects, big data is in danger of turning into the next service oriented architecture (SOA) – a good idea that simply cannot be realized.
  • Conversely, Microsoft’s diminutive self service business intelligence solution, Power BI for Office 365, highlights the potential in thinking small with big data.

I never win anything. For that reason I never gamble and have never, ever entered the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. But last week on a whim I requested a beta invitation for Microsoft’s forthcoming self service business intelligence (BI) service (Power BI for Office 365 preview). Lucky me, I won an invite and immediately began pawing through the available documentation and downloading a few samples. What did I find? Sometimes the biggest insights can be found in the smallest of packages, even the seemingly unpretentious spreadsheet itself. Read more of this post

Recent Mobile Acquisitions Remind Enterprises to Look for Vendors That Have Invested in MEAP

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile platforms signal success for enterprise application platforms vendors
  • Case in point: This week, Antenna Software was snatched up by Pegasystems

Two recent MEAP acquisitions were prompted by the need to fill out current portfolios in a sure-fire area of technology, and nothing spells success faster than the acquisition of mobile technology. Because time to market is everything, those involved in application platforms are realizing they cannot get up to speed in mobile platforms overnight and are wise to acquire companies which are most familiar with the standards, toolsets, and practices around this new breed of application infrastructure.  Read more of this post

Now Is Not the Time to Standardize Northbound SDN APIs

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Standards are great for ensuring interoperability when the requirements are well understood.
  • The requirements needed to support applications leveraging SDN are not well understood and standardization will inhibit innovation.

SDN northbound APIs don’t need standardization – at least not at the functional level where command and control semantics live.  Like others, I think SDN is far too early in its development to warrant standardization at a functional level.  SDN would benefit from a standardized architectural approach such as SOAP or REST, which describe different programmatic approaches to interconnecting services, because those are software architectures that are familiar to application developers.  In order to generate and maintain momentum for SDN innovation, there must be as few barriers to application development as possible. Read more of this post

Does IBM Need a Firewall to Remain Competitive in the Network Security Appliance Market?

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite talk about the death of the firewall, the technology remains strategic to large security vendors, prompting both significant internal development and big acquisitions.
  • However, IBM remains out of that loop, and that could hurt its ability to compete as next-generation firewalls subsume standalone IPS products.

Despite talk of the demise of the firewall in recent years, there have been considerable movement and resources going into that market of late.  Last month, HP launched its first firewall, opting to develop its own next-generation firewall using technology borrowed from its TippingPoint IPS and Digital Vaccine modules for application visibility and control.  Earlier this year, McAfee plunked down $389 million in cash to acquire Stonesoft, giving McAfee its first stateful firewall to supplement its existing proxy-based firewall.  Beyond that, Fortinet most recently raised the bar on firewall performance in the data center, where it sees significant growth opportunities owing to the large-scale data center network refresh going on across the globe. Read more of this post

Mobile Analytics Form a Two-Way Street Between the Past and the Future

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • There are great advantages to disseminating analytics smarts to mobile users such as sales persons.
  • Real innovation, however, comes when you combine that dissemination with the collection of data points.

I spent a few hours yesterday listening to a number of SAP ISV partners including ExpertIG, Rapid Consulting and Liquid Analytics demonstrate mobile software built to support the wholesale market.  I know, that doesn’t sound incredibly exciting.  Yet, long before the expiration of my admittedly short attention span, I was struck squarely by what was for me a stunning realization.  Big data should be as much about collecting data as it is about gleaning knowledge from that data. Read more of this post