SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide: A Summary of Potential Technical Benefits

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN complements dedicated IP/MPLS VPNs; it’s a case of different horses for different courses, with certain parts of the IT estate benefiting from both technologies.
  • SD-WAN services offer rapid turn-up for multiple branch sites where typically there might not be an IT technician on site.
  • SD-WAN solutions can be crafted to give cost-effective and agile support for leveraging IaaS environments, and will typically support traffic optimization and robust security.

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) services received enormous marketing attention during 2016, as various providers and operators sought to gain mindshare among their potential customer bases. As we proceed through early 2017, it is now clear that SD-WAN services can be sourced from a wide variety of company types including telcos, platform developers, hardware manufacturers, cloud providers and software developers. For the average IT manager, this has made the market landscape difficult to understand and navigate to find a solution. 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

I Run Applications, You’re Measuring Packets: It’s Time to Revisit Those Network SLAs

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn – Service Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises are increasingly focused on, and making decisions around, applications performance. WAN providers’ stock SLAs are still mired in the language of packets and frames.
  • Network partners already aren’t top of mind for enterprises’ applications performance discussions despite their key role in applications delivery.

Through our regularly conducted global ICT surveys here at Current Analysis, we caught one of the most recent purchasing trend shifts early on: enterprise lines of business are increasing their purchasing influence, even influencing networking-related decisions. More accurately, our surveys have been validating a power shift that we’d already been experiencing in our enterprise inquiries. Read more of this post

Partnering with Competitors Will Remain Central to Dell EMC’s Converged and Hyper-converged Solutions Strategy in 2017

C. Drake

C. Drake

Summary Bullets:

• The market for hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) will be a major battleground for solutions jointly engineered by Dell Technologies group businesses.

• Dell EMC will maintain partnerships with competitors in relation to specific converged and hyper-converged solutions as long as customer demand for these solutions continues.

The launch in December of a new VxRack solution based on Dell EMC’s PowerEdge servers and VMware’s software-defined data center platform, gives us only a partial indication of how Dell EMC’s HCI will evolve in 2017. For a fuller understanding, it is necessary to look at the broader range of decisions and announcements the company has made both prior to and since its September merger. It can be argued that the launch of a new HCI solution based entirely on infrastructure provided by Dell Technologies group businesses – together with a move to drop the VCE brand for all of Dell EMC’s converged and hyper-converged solutions – points to a change of strategy for the vendor. They also note the way in which Dell’s PowerEdge servers have been steadily incorporated into several EMC solutions since the completion of the merger – including the company’s VxRail hyper-converged appliance. Read more of this post

Just Because the FCC Is Cutting TDM Access Costs, Don’t Assume It Will Happen

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn – Service Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• The FCC is getting ready to release an Order forcing double-digit rate cuts to DS3/DS1 special access services over three years.

• Enterprises looking for cost savings have a surer bet moving to Ethernet on broadband and/or fiber access alternatives wherever available.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears finally to be in the home stretch of a move to force incumbent carriers to reduce rates for certain types of access. Specifically, after much back and forth on details, the proposal is now tilting to an 11% blanket rate decrease in access costs implemented over three years, from July 2017-2020, and by 3% per year after that (adjusted by inflation). These new price protections cover dedicated access services at speeds below 45 Mbps — that puts a bull’s-eye on the venerable DS3 and DS1 circuits. Also planned are new price protections for buyers, and more power for the FCC to handle complaints. 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

IoT Tech Developers & Establishing the Business Value of Their Innovations

J. Marcheck

J. Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • Industrial IoT (IIoT) monitoring and control technology development is happening at nearly all levels of the economy from large industrial vendors and tech startups to local incubators seeking to export solutions designed for local problems.
  • While there is an understandable focus on what is possible with IIoT monitoring and control, there also needs to be a clearer connection between much of this technology development and the business value it brings it IIoT buyers.

At a tech meetup in Austin, Texas, I recently had the chance to hear Digi.City founder Chelsea Collier and Pecan Street CIO Bert Haskell discuss his group’s focus on developing IoT technology R&D and disseminating that technology into the broader ecosystem.

By way of background, Pecan Street is a non-profit, funded by a combination of grants and a commercial revenue stream to “advance research and innovation in water and energy.” During the hour-long conversation, Mr. Haskell discussed a variety of topics related to how his team approaches technology development and how Pecan Street seeks to share (evangelize) its technology on a global basis; and though not directly, he also touched on some key challenges facing IoT-related technology commercialization. Read more of this post