If You Want Enterprise Networking to be More Responsive, You Have to Give IT the Tools

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

•      IT’s virtual networking goals are far less lofty than what vendors, analysts, and commentators want you to believe but those goals are no less important.

•      Enterprise IT simply isn’t prepared for the breathlessly stated goal of delivering applications on demand in 5 minutes or less.

If you only listened to the selling points behind software defined networking (SDN) and the software defined data center (SDDC), you’d get the picture that enterprise IT is on the cusp of delivering complex enterprise applications at the drop of a hat. You’d think that business line managers are technically savvy enough to define what they need and fill in templates with the correct information. Continue reading “If You Want Enterprise Networking to be More Responsive, You Have to Give IT the Tools”

What’s an SDN? Who Cares? The Question is, Does It Help?

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • There isn’t any consensus on the definition of SDN, but in the many variations are value propositions that may be useful to you.
  • In the drive to define SDN, established and start-up networking vendors are developing products that can improve your network operations, and that is what is important.

Chalk it up to my extensive studies in philosophy, but I like definitions that are clear, concise, and differentiate one thing from another. At times I can be pedantic and get dragged down in details, but I’m also practical and I know that while theory can be fun and games, at some point, stuff has to get done. What was more important to me when I ran a small data center was getting things done. I didn’t really care about what I called whatever technology I was using. What I cared about, and what the IT professionals that I talk to care about, is how will this new technology make my job better, more efficient, less prone to error, or more cost effective. What matters is not the foundational ideas underpinning a new technology, but the practical applications. Continue reading “What’s an SDN? Who Cares? The Question is, Does It Help?”

The Changing Face of Network Management

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • For vendor management platforms to be effective, they need to replace processes IT developed to get around shortcomings of previous platforms.
  • The management platform must provide all the tools needed for management at a low cost. The management platform isn’t a value add—it’s an integral part of the network buy.

I was talking to a friend who is neck deep in network management in a very large enterprise about some of the new technologies and features network equipment vendors are putting into their network management systems (NMS) with the lofty goal of providing a single pane of glass that has contextual views and workflows built-in. His response, after making a face like he just took a swig of sour milk, was “I’ve heard this all before and each time the platform was expensive and lacked the necessary features we needed. We ended up augmenting with other products. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

One part of the problem my friend faced was that network management products were long on promises and short on delivery. Device discovery was never 100% and network mapping sometimes resulted in impossible, Klein bottle style topologies which had to be corrected by hand. Another part of the problem was self-inflicted. His IT staff would use the CLI or custom built scripts to manage network elements which resulted in the NMS being out of date and constantly needing updating. A whole cottage industry developed to rationalize the NMS view of the network with reality but that’s because the NMS’s weren’t effective tools for IT. I think that’s changing. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Network Management”