Blockchain Has No Place in Network Management

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Blockchain may have many use cases, but there is little value in networking and network management.
  • Multivendor interoperability will remain a problem unless there are standards and the backing of networking vendors.

I may come to regret that headline, but for the moment, I stand by it. The financial world is simply breathless over cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Not only have cryptocurrencies skyrocketed to meteoric heights; there have also been numerous reports that simply adding ‘blockchain’ to a company name can boost the company’s value, which demonstrates the buzz has reached peak ridiculousness. In the tech world, a number of commentators, bloggers, and vendors are ‘blockchain signaling’ in an effort to be viewed as in touch with a hot, current trend. This is true even in networking, where blockchain proponents position it for authenticated management, multivendor management, and configuration compliance.

Let me burst that bubble with a slap of cold, hard reality. Blockchain provides little benefit to auditing network management that is better than existing alternatives. Furthermore, I’d suggest that blockchain is an unproven technology in enterprise IT. Continue reading “Blockchain Has No Place in Network Management”

SD-WAN Won’t Become a Feature of Branch Routing

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN products and technology offer distinctly different features and benefits compared to branch routers. SD-WAN won’t augment routers but will replace them in the branch.
  • Vendors making branch devices like routers and firewalls should be very concerned about being replaced with SD-WAN hardware and software.

I make no secret that I think SD-WAN is the cat’s meow. It really is transformative technology that, in most cases, can deliver on the promise of an as robust or better WAN overlay that obviates the need for a complex routed WAN architecture and the skills need to maintain it. If an enterprise wants to relegate its WAN to just pipes, it can overlay an SD-WAN on top of the WAN and manage it themselves. If the enterprise wants an SD-WAN and WAN service that has management integration from service provisioning to management, it can get a combined service—or soon will be able to get a combined service—from any number of managed service providers. In either case, gone is the complex routed WAN which is brittle and takes a long time to respond to problems. Whether the enterprise router jockeys will want to give up their beautifully crafted BGP is another matter, but the potential exists for most companies. Continue reading “SD-WAN Won’t Become a Feature of Branch Routing”

Vodafone Asia Industry Analyst Summit 2018: Retaining Leadership in IoT and Staying on Track to Challenge the Market with SD-WAN

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • VGE has a comprehensive enterprise services portfolio as well as a strong vision on how to build an agile network platform leveraging SDN/NFV.
  • Vodafone remains a leading player in the IoT space, and it is able to use IoT to open new opportunities with new and existing customers.

Vodafone Global Enterprise (VGE) hosted its Asia Industry Analyst Summit in Singapore on January 30-31, 2018. While various information involving business directions, products and partnerships was shared at the event, this blog post zooms in on the two key areas: SD-WAN and IoT. Continue reading “Vodafone Asia Industry Analyst Summit 2018: Retaining Leadership in IoT and Staying on Track to Challenge the Market with SD-WAN”

Four Interview Questions to Ask WOPR for a Junior Network Administrator Role

M. Fratto
M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are being developed for networking and network management, with the first iterations providing deep analytics and augmenting IT’s root cause analysis workflows.
  • There are a number of gaps that need to be closed before the full capability of AI and ML systems is realized.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques continue to be improved as companies and researchers develop and test products. In networking, established vendors and startups are developing management systems that promise to automate the time-consuming, low-value work of data collection and correlation as well as the AI and ML techniques to provide actionable information to network IT, such as predictive trouble alerts and recommendations to resolve problems. Vendors’ products such as the recently announced Cisco DNA Center Assurance, Cisco Network Analytics Engine, and Mist Systems Virtual Network Assistant are also using sophisticated UI elements to help IT better understand networking problems and assist with root cause analysis. We’ve heard these promises in the past, and for one reason or another, these advanced techniques failed to deliver. Before you go the AI route, here are some key questions to ask. Continue reading “Four Interview Questions to Ask WOPR for a Junior Network Administrator Role”

Enterprises Want Streamlined Operations. Who’s Going to Provide It?

 

M. Fratto

• Underlying SD-WAN and virtual network functions address enterprise IT’s desire for more efficient operations.

• Managed service providers can differentiate themselves on operations and should invest in doing so.

I’ve heard some commentary that SD-WAN will become a feature of routers and firewalls, and the product segment will wither and die, but I don’t think SD-WAN products are going to disappear. Some vendors will consolidate features and functions. Cisco and VMware will integrate their SD-WAN acquisitions with their other networking products but that doesn’t mean enterprises will run to consolidated products. There will be some uptake of consolidated products, just like there was some uptake of router-firewall-VPN combinations, but enterprise demand for stand-alone SD-WAN products will continue for some time. There are a few reasons for this. Continue reading “Enterprises Want Streamlined Operations. Who’s Going to Provide It?”

SD-WAN Value Blog Part 2: Managed Service Provider Opportunities to Drive Value

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Setting the Scene with Research

The first of this two-part blog series can be read here: SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience TransformationJanuary 5, 2018.

In the below pie-chart (source: GlobalData Multi-Client Survey, October 2017), we asked a large pool of multinationals the following question:

Do you have a managed services provider (MSP) who helps operate your network?

74% said ‘yes’, while the remaining 26% said ‘no’.

Our conclusions for the majority 74% positive response is that this is driven by the need for an integrated portfolio of services and fast responses for adjustments, maintenance, and repairs. We understand from respondents that network complexity is a hassle that they struggle to cope with, and that with digital transformation paths this complexity is only compounded.

We also think that this 74% penetration gives MSPs an ideal platform from which to expand into existing accounts with more services. SD-WAN implementations are a great vehicle for this, with central orchestration and more deeper management functions more effective for flexible real-time changes – including technical ones to network nuts and bolts and commercially with more pay-as-you-go and ‘as-a-service’ options. This opens up opportunities for service providers to move up the value chain in various areas, including for example professional services. In the same Multi-client Survey, the following graph demonstrates the types of partners that businesses use for. Continue reading “SD-WAN Value Blog Part 2: Managed Service Provider Opportunities to Drive Value”

SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience Transformation

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN gives managed service providers opportunities to drive customer loyalty and move up the value chain.
  • Staying in one place is no longer an option in the managed WAN services segment.
  • An agile network is essential for enterprises wanting to be the champions of great customer experience within their specific segment.

Moving Up the Value Chain

SD-WAN offers managed service providers considerable opportunities to drive loyalty from clients as well as offer multiple layers of value-added products around data center and cloud, WAN acceleration, applications performance management, and firewall security. In fact, these are already table stakes in the market today. Many physical appliance-based network features and functions are increasingly becoming available as software-defined network services, in the form of more unique and BYOD-style VNFs being part of expanding menus. Continue reading “SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience Transformation”

Nokia Innovation Forum: Enabling Digital Transformation Through Telcos

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia uses its strength and experience in network solutions as well as its strong relationships with telcos to drive digital transformation.
  • In emerging markets where digital transformation is slow, Nokia needs to work more closely with the telcos and focus on particular solutions and verticals.

Nokia held its Asia-Pacific Innovation Forum in Singapore on the October 24, 2017. Various topics and use cases around IoT, 5G, cloud, network and security were discussed by not only Nokia executives, but also its industry partners, its telco customers, start-ups, government agencies and end users. Despite the diverse topics, the presentations and discussions throughout the event focused around digital transformation themes. Continue reading “Nokia Innovation Forum: Enabling Digital Transformation Through Telcos”

Telstra Vantage 2017: Programmable Network Inches Ahead of Competitors in the Software-Defined Space

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises need a more agile network solution to support rapidly changing IT requirements and the migration of workloads to the cloud.
  • Telstra’s Programmable Network is designed to overcome challenges enterprises are facing, and the platform is developed and enhanced in-house through an agile and iterative approach.

Telstra Programmable Network (TPN) is an elegant platform designed to solve some issues enterprises are facing. In the digital era, enterprises need to move fast to transform their business and stay competitive. Increasingly, companies are gathering and analysing data to develop competitive advantages. IT needs to ensure that their network solutions are flexible to support digital platforms and hybrid cloud services. Speed (fast provisioning), agility (scale up and down) and cost-effectiveness are important with end users demanding more and the budget not increasing proportionately. In addition, with more applications and services running over the network, there needs to be tools to enable ease of management and visibility. Continue reading “Telstra Vantage 2017: Programmable Network Inches Ahead of Competitors in the Software-Defined Space”

SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Exploring the Potential Functional Benefits

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Many enterprise IT departments find their current WAN solutions unwieldy when it comes to adding, or reducing, the number of connected sites. SD-WAN solutions should provide greater agility for turning up new branch sites.

• Service orchestration and a single-pane online tool for managing circuits and path-selection for critical apps also give greater functional agility.

SD-WAN services are becoming more widely available across the globe, with large global and smaller regional service providers increasingly including various SD-WAN options from within their portfolios examples include AT&T, Masergy, Colt, CenturyLink, Tata Communications, and NTT Communications. In parallel with such activity in the operator community, there are dozens of SD-WAN platform developers in the market, such as Nuage Networks (a Nokia company), Versa Networks, VeloCloud, and Viptela. The landscape makes it confusing to understand which type of SD-WAN supplier to work with, and thus businesses need to conduct conversations with several vendors from the categories above before making a choice. One theme remains constant: enterprise clients need to understand the network transformation path they intend to take in order to achieve a robust SD-WAN overlay. IT department heads can look at the functional positives that SD-WAN may bring and line these up with requirements.
Continue reading “SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Exploring the Potential Functional Benefits”