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. Continue reading “Intentionally Making the Most of SD-WAN”

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. Continue reading “One Box to Rule the Branch, Yet Again?”

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. Continue reading “VMworld 2016: VMware’s Plans for Cloud Domination”

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.
Continue reading “Cisco ACI and VMware NSX: Will Those Two Kids Ever Get Along?”

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. Continue reading “SDN Is Not an Iteration, It Is Innovative”

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. Continue reading “The Case for SD-WAN”

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.

Continue reading “802.11ah/HaLow: Do We Really Need Another Protocol?”

Three Key Networking Trends for 2016

M. Fratto
M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise SDN momentum is still slow to pick up indicating that enterprises are struggling to find relevant use cases or use cases with sufficient benefit.
  • Integration capabilities industry wide need to improve including technical implementations and go to market tactics that prioritize accessibility.

I dislike yearly predictions. If I could make accurate predictions I’d be rich and living on a beach somewhere pondering my next fruit and umbrella drink. But, I can see what enterprises are asking for from vendors and how various vendors are responding to those demands. The big picture end game that creates a great vision and makes for an exciting keynote on stage pixelates when it comes to practical questions on how products and services can positively impact an enterprise. I think there are three critical changes in the market occurring in 2016.

Continue reading “Three Key Networking Trends for 2016”

No Doubt About It: SD-WAN Products Are Popping Up Like Daisies

M. Fratto
M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Since 2012, the number of new products, product updates, and startups selling SD-WAN has been steadily increasing.
  • SD-WAN is attractive for both enterprises and service providers seeking to broaden their service portfolio, all of which will make for a very competitive field.

There’s nothing like a good visual to see if a technology is taking off. While putting together some data for a report on SD-WAN, I created a timeline of product launches and major product updates. To save space, I just listed the vendor, product, and version/feature. The items are ordered relative to each other, and I used dates from press releases or from conversations with the vendor. SD-WAN products create an over-the-top network between locations such as offices, data centers, and cloud services. SD-WAN relies on automation to create paths through the network based on policy requirements and definitions which may include path selection, application classification and management, and reporting. I’d even go so far as to say that any definition of SD-WAN requires encapsulation of traffic between sites as a fundamental component. Continue reading “No Doubt About It: SD-WAN Products Are Popping Up Like Daisies”

Vendors Shouldn’t Underestimate the Importance of Validation in Switch Disaggregation

M. Fratto
M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Most companies don’t have the people, processes, or desire to do their own in-depth validation of disaggregated switching products.
  • Networking vendors won’t succeed unless they take the lead by validating integration and offering technical support and professional services.

There’s no doubt that customers want integrated IT systems both for internal systems and for delivering services to their end users. While IT will, at times, perform some of the integration work itself, the reality is that enterprises strongly prefer more guaranteed, out-of-the-box integration between systems. DevOps is cool and all, but let’s face it: most enterprise IT shops are not capable of DevOps because they lack the developers to ensure smooth integration. This is why validated integration is so important for enterprises. Granted, validated integration is no guarantee that systems will actually work well together, but it does provide assurance that if they don’t, the vendor or integrator can assist in problem resolution. Continue reading “Vendors Shouldn’t Underestimate the Importance of Validation in Switch Disaggregation”