Steven is Principal Analyst for Enterprise Networking at GlobalData, covering networking hardware and software for the data center and enterprise, including switching, routing, SDN, SD-WAN, and related technologies. This includes NFV for enterprise, automation, AI/ML for networking, location services, and the convergence of networking and security. Steven will also be covering the new edge, as the network edge evolves SD-WAN and IoT and the opportunities around re-inventing the edge as companies move towards digitization. Steven's technology career began over 25 years ago in Fortune 500 IT for retail, where he was a network architect. Prior to Global Data, Steven has served as Managing Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where he did his own testing and writing, Principal Network Analyst for Network Infrastructure at Current Analysis, and most recently at Cisco Systems, where he worked in Data Center switching, Cloud, and Enterprise Switching.
• Trade shows are a tech staple, but compelling reasons to question them exist.
• The human interaction aspects of trade shows provide strong benefits.
The Convention. The Show. Some tech industry trade shows are so iconic that they are only known by their initials. Spring and fall trade shows are a staple, with great amounts of vendor and service provider time tied up with these conferences. Months and months of planning for attendees, speakers, sessions, food, and entertainment. Vendors have whole teams that do nothing but handle show details, booth hardware, transportation, and promotion. Somebody has to make sure the keynote intro is at an ear-splitting volume with a concert-like light show and features a walk-on song from Imagine Dragons for the CEO. A gradual shift over the last 20 years away from generalized third-party hosted shows with multiple vendors in one market have more or less yielded to vendor-specific shows, where other vendors show up, but exist in a careful détente. That has led to overall more shows each year. The big shift that had been going on was away from some cities where the costs for customers and visitors were pricing the very customers the trade shows are for out of attending.
Then COVID-19 hit. Now the spring tech show circuit is looking pretty grim with cancellations abounding. Even the storied service provider focused Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was cancelled, for very understandable reasons. With the next few months of conferences either cancelled or imperiled, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the concept of the ‘big tech conference’ overall. Because sometimes the convention ends and the thought occurs: Was travel really necessary for that information? Continue reading “Maybe it’s Time to Rethink Tech Trade Shows”→
• With growing bandwidth needs due to things like Wi-Fi 6 and video, options like POL can provide long-term investment protection benefits
• POL can reduce operating expenses, both administratively and from a power/cooling standpoint
The networking journey is always one of change, yet there are some technologies that we’ve used for literally decades that are not up to the challenges of growing bandwidth and device density. Indeed, new services such as Wi-Fi 6 are driving the need for more bandwidth, especially on the backhaul. Copper Ethernet cables are a great example of where a great technology is beginning to run into the harsh limits of physics. To achieve even 10 Gigabit speeds excessive care has to be taken with thick, less flexible cables and distance limits of 100 meters for properly installed cabling systems (Cat6a or Cat7). With bandwidth rising to 40Gbps and 100Gbps and beyond, it becomes a matter of much discussion on how we support networks going forward, especially in new construction. Nobody wants the expense of upgrading a building’s network cabling because bandwidth needs have exceeded its limited capacity.
The new year and all the changes in the world, both political and otherwise, can cause uncertainty and stress.
Planning can rationalize the risk and reduce stress and feelings of helplessness.
Our connected society is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us the sum of human knowledge in the palms of our hands. On the other hand, it makes us hyper-aware of political, geopolitical, climate, human, and economic problems on a 24/7 basis. As IT professionals, we are affected by the challenges from the constant bombardment of the world’s problems, and it takes a toll on everyone’s decision-making processes. Continue reading “2020: Planning Is the Cure for Uncertainty”→
• The days of IT making technology decisions by itself is gone, and the business has the main say now.
• The faster business and IT can accept this new reality the better the relationship and future for the company.
At Cisco’s Partner Summit in 2019, CEO Chuck Robbins said something that while apparent, does showcase the reality that the nature of the IT buyer is changing.
“Never has technology been more important to customers and never have they cared less about the details of that technology.” – Chuck Robbins
It has been clear for years that IT is a fundamental enabler of business. IT administrators have often been frustrated and stymied by corporate attitudes that IT is a cost center, to be contained and streamlined. Well, business has woken up and not only is the C-suite interested in technology, but individual lines of business are becoming the primary drivers of new business. Digitization of business further accelerates the trend, with the business taking a direct hand to use technology to get closer to the customer. Continue reading “Sea Change in Technology Purchasing”→
• Charts and figures that show explosive growth are unnecessary and induce customer anxiety
• Force anyone presenting to move on to the solutions
In the IT industry we have an ugly addiction. It’s about growth, security, and complexity. Growth in data, growth in bandwidth needs, growth in number of devices. Security issues around every part of IT from edge IoT to the core of the data center. The complexity of managing all these systems, the ones put in to handle the growth and the ones to handle the myriad of security vulnerabilities from bugs to misconfigurations. The claims that “never before have we seen…” Continue reading “Hyperbole Management Specification 1.0”→
• To maximize the investment in I.T. companies should have a robust training program
• Regular training will benefit everyone, as well as make the workplace run smoother.
“Never stop learning” – a pithy phrase, something you could see on a motivational poster next to the one with the adorable kitten clinging to a branch that says “hang in there.” But the significance of the phrase “never stop learning” is one that comes with particular meaning in the tech industry. The pace of the tech industry overall requires a learning process that can’t stop. Everyone in technology, from day to day techs, senior administrators, coders, management, and senior management all need to keep learning. But how we treat learning in IT is still outdated and is centered around 1950s-era notions of top-down control, where workers don’t need to know that much, management will know for them, and that knowledge is based on professional certifications. Continue reading “Never Stop Learning!”→
Everyone has brand and product preferences based on experience, emotion, and environment.
Pick the right tool for the job, even if it’s outside your personal preferences.
Marketing teams talk about brand perception and brand loyalty. They talk about mind share and name recognition. As individuals, we try to act as if we don’t have brand loyalty, but instead loyalty to quality, price, utility, or some combination of those factors. Despite everyone having a bent towards economic rationality, its clear that emotion, experience, and our peers and self-identified group play a much larger role in our buying decisions. As individuals, this is not really a big deal. But in the IT workplace, brand or technology preferences can have negative consequences. More surprisingly, these preferences are extremely strong and take on the aspect of nearly religious belief. If you find that to be an exaggeration, find your local expert Linux system administrator and ask them what they think of Microsoft. More often than not, you will be treated to a sermon on the evils of the Beast of Redmond. Continue reading “The Right Tool for the Job”→
• Enterprises and vendors need to resist the urge to spend too much time defining broad marketing terms when it doesn’t really matter.
• Get your vendors to narrow their pitch to your industry/use cases.
IT in its early days was driven by technical terms. Magazines and advertisements were overflowing with megabytes per second and POSIX compliance and IEEE specifications. But things changed and it soon became clear that IT was a driver of business and that non-IT managers would need to become an integral part of the decision-making process. The marketing changed to something less technical and more approachable. But sometimes the pendulum swings too far, with must-have marketing terms that get spread out so far that they become meaningless. Common terms become umbrellas for what need to be more focused discussions, whether it is from a technical or non-technical standpoint. Continue reading “Narrow It Down!”→
• Managing technology change is more than just about the technology, it’s about business practices as well.
• Stagnation of technology leads to technological debt, which costs more than money to fix.
Far longer ago than I’m willing to admit, I worked for a now-defunct retail organization in IT. That organization prided itself on two things, its ability to fulfill business needs to a high standard without relying on external vendors or organizations, and its ability to extend the life of arguably ancient IT systems. Massive technological debt was accrued, all with the best of intentions. Continue reading “Technological Debt is More Than Just Money”→
Knowing the social responsibility position of the vendors you do business with is important; what they do can reflect on you as their customer.
Keep an open mind and do your research; a vendor that aligns with your organization’s ethos and goals will help ensure a better relationship.
Corporate Social Responsibility – Keep It Real
Increasingly, customers are considering the social position of vendors from which they want to buy. Who you buy from reflects on the ethos of your company as well. Nobody wants to be doing business with a vendor perceived as evil or greedy. Therefore, many companies will not publicly reveal which vendors they use internally. The social position of your vendor is probably not even in the top ten requirements, but it should factor in somewhere. If you really want to partner with a vendor, your corporate ethos and attitudes should be at least roughly in the same direction. Continue reading “Corporate Giving and Social Responsibility – Should You Care?”→