The Competitive Impact of Cisco’s Acquisition of Viptela Is Yet to Come

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Cisco intends to acquire Viptela for $610 million (USD), but it’s one more SD-WAN product in a sea of products.
  • The competitive impact will take a year or more to be realized, and will largely be determined based on Cisco’s integration strategy.

Cisco Systems intends to acquire Viptela for $610 million. That’s a pretty good chunk of change for a company that already has two SD-WAN products, IWAN on the ISR routers and Meraki’s SD-WAN. Until the deal closes, Cisco and Viptela will be pretty quiet about future plans, but since Viptela will be added to Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Group, it is safe to say it will augment Cisco’s networking portfolio and at least, for a while, be offered alongside IWAN. Read more of this post

Customer Tracking Using WiFi and Beacons Should Be Dead in Retail

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • WiFi and Bluetooth beacons are inconsistent trackers that can tell retailers little more than ‘some device was somewhere in this vicinity for a period of time.’
  • Beacons and RFID on products open up more opportunities for many benefits, including increasing customer touch and understanding their shopping habits.

The National Retail Federation’s 2017 Big Show in New York was a cornucopia of everything retail, from smart displays to supply chain management to social media analytics. One overall theme I kept hearing was how retailers want to enhance the shopping experience with customers and ultimately sell more products. Online retailer sites like Amazon and Best Buy can gather a wealth of information about user behavior and feed that data back into their analytics to track product performance and make recommendations to customers based on past behavior and the behaviors of similar customers. Brick-and-mortar stores don’t have that advantage and are desperately trying to learn more about the buyer and increase sales. Read more of this post

No More IT Stinkin’ Thinkin’

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Vendors promise the world with new products and technology and sometimes deliver. Shift your perspective to what technology can do, not what it can’t do.
  • Pavlovian dismissal of vendor claims is a drag on IT meeting the needs of the enterprise.

Back in the day, when I was failing at car sales (in our fail-fast social fabric, does that mean I was successful?), a sales manager pulled me aside and urged me to avoid “stinking thinking.” He’d point to the sales people huddled by the sales phone who were complaining about lack of leads due to too few walk-ins, the ‘up system,’ or the weather. What they weren’t doing was working the phones or client lists or performing other tasks that would lead to sales. Worse, stinking thinking was infectious, and if a sales person was caught up in the sphere of influence, they got pulled in and started complaining. I would have starved if I stayed in sales, but I took that lesson to heart. Read more of this post

Intentionally Making the Most of SD-WAN

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Successfully deploying SD-WAN means moving from rigid, static policies to dynamic enforcement of your intentions.
  • Static rules should be a thing of the past and alternative equivalent controls should be evaluated for any lingering static requirements.

Few technologies make me sit up and say, “I want that!” when I see them, and SD-WAN is a game changing technology for organizations that have more than a handful of remote offices and want a better, more efficient way of interconnecting branches and a better, more efficient way to manage them. Regardless of the product you choose, and I discuss them in “SD-WAN H1 2016 Market Update: Vendor Snapshots Show a Crowded, Competitive Field Attempting to Diversify,” the benefits of SD-WAN will seem remarkable, fantastical even, until you see it in action. Implementing the routing, firewall, VPN, link load balancing, application performance, failover, failback, and cost management with traditional branch office equipment is very complex and even more complex to change, including adding new sites. Read more of this post

One Box to Rule the Branch, Yet Again?

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • As companies refresh branch IT products, it’s a good time to evaluate new architectures for a better fit.
  • Network function virtualization (NFV) was born in the service provider space, but the basic concept has legs in the enterprise.

Every five years or so, vendors old and new refocus product development on the branch in an effort both to add capabilities in remote offices and to reduce management overhead as well as the number of trips IT has to make to locations for moves, adds, and changes. There’s always been tension between adding even more appliances to a branch office and consolidating down to fewer multi-function appliances. Having multiple single-function appliances improves performance and increases versatility because functions can be swapped out by replacing hardware, but at the expense of increased management overhead and cost; while utilizing consolidated, multi-function devices promises lower costs, consolidated management and simpler networks at the cost of less versatility in swapping out functional components and the possibility of a failure having a greater impact. Read more of this post

VMworld 2016: VMware’s Plans for Cloud Domination

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • One key strategy VMware employs is attempting to commoditize infrastructure through abstraction and virtualization.
  • Cloud providers need to watch as VMware’s strategy unfolds, ensuring they aren’t commoditized as well.

With Cross-Cloud Services, VMware wants to commoditize cloud services just like it sped up the commoditization of x86 servers. During the keynote demo of the tech preview, VMware replicated much of the functionality found in various cloud dashboards, but more importantly, Cross-Cloud Services consolidates the views into a consistent and cohesive dashboard. I think it’s a pretty impressive effort and I’m curious to see the final product, but as impressed as I may be, I can’t help but consider VMware’s endgame as it tries to manage all the clouds. Read more of this post

Cisco ACI and VMware NSX: Will Those Two Kids Ever Get Along?

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

• Cisco and VMware partner on many integration projects, but the lack of integration between Cisco ACI and VMware NSX has gone on too long.
• Bread crumbs of hints that collaboration between the two SDN units of each company may be a portent or wishful thinking.

Some might see CRN’s article Cisco CEO: We’re Talking With VMware About Closer Software-Defined Networking Relationship” where Cisco’s CEO, Chuck Robbins told the author “…I think our teams are talking about where there might be points that balance the competitive nature of the [Cisco – VMware] partnership, but also meet perhaps some of the emerging customer asks. So I think it that’s to be determined” as a positive assertion that the two companies are going to integrate the ACI and NSX. At last year’s VMworld in San Francisco, executives at VMware made a similar, albeit cryptic, statement as well. That these little bread crumbs are dropping may be a precursor to an announcement as early as this summer, but frankly, I’m not going to speculate on what the two companies could be planning.
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SDN Is Not an Iteration, It Is Innovative

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

• Innovation doesn’t mean the technology has to be net new. It just has to significantly change a direction.

• SDN has had and will continue to have a significant impact on enterprises and vendors for years to come.

SDN is many things to many people and the answer to the question “What is SDN?” will vary depending on who you ask. In fact, I’d say that SDN has become so overloaded that it has lost its meaning. But unlike my friend Greg Ferro, who thinks SDN is not an innovation, it’s iteration, I think SDN is innovative—or at least parts are—but more importantly, SDN unlocks innovation. Read more of this post

The Case for SD-WAN

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

• Your organization may be in the minority that won’t benefit from SD-WAN products replacing your existing WAN infrastructure, but for everyone else, there’s significant upside to moving to SD-WAN sooner rather than later.

• Algorithms in SD-WAN products rationalize competing demands such as current conditions and your pre-defined requirements to optimize application performance. Let go and get on with your day.

There are too many times when I see a technology and think, “Yeah, I want to buy that.” I’m talking technology, not products, in this note. SD-WAN is one of those technologies that I think has so much upside that no matter what product you pick the result will be far and away better than what you have, in particular for interconnecting remote sites. I’m not entirely convinced of the efficacy of SD-WAN for inter-data center connectivity. The key feature is operational simplicity when compared to how inter-office connectivity is achieved today. Read more of this post

802.11ah/HaLow: Do We Really Need Another Protocol?

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

• 802.11ah/HaLow offers long range, low power wireless connectivity compared to other 802.11 protocols.

• In a vacuum, more options to choose from is beneficial, but in reality, more options lead to complications.

From the “yet another IoT wireless standard” category comes 802.11ah, what the Wi-Fi Alliance is calling HaLow, which is a wireless protocol that operates in the unlicensed 900Mhz spectrum – promising longer range, better penetration through walls, and lower power than 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. That’s great and I look forward to seeing deployments that can verify those claims because range and battery power are two limitations in IoT deployments that are difficult to overcome and could be showstoppers if they require significant investment in time or money to address.

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