Asking ‘What’s the Point of SDN?’ and the Impact on Adoption

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Many enterprises are struggling to find a reason to invest in SDN when what they have in place works well enough.
  • There will not be a killer app for SDN.  Rather, enterprises will adopt SDN as their data centers needs evolve over time.

I recently attended and presented at the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress in Bod Homburg, Germany, and while I was there, I had a chance to talk to some enterprise IT attendees who were investigating SDN for their organizations.  The common question through most of the discussion was: “Why should I use a SDN?”  Luckily, I started my talk with that very question. Read more of this post

VMware and Collaboration: What a Long Strange Trip it’s About to Become

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • First VMware pulls back from an early file sharing and sync tool; then it sells its email platform to Telligent. So, what’s left for collaboration at VMware?
  • In a unique but potentially risky move, the company has thrown its enterprise social networking offering into the waiting arms of its endpoint management suite, VMware Horizon.

When I arrived at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco last week, I didn’t expect much in the way of razzle-dazzle from VMware’s End User Computing product group. This conference has historically resembled a three ring circus, spinning around the many wonders of workload virtualization. On that, the conference did not disappoint, featuring much ado over both software defined networking and hybrid cloud services. Read more of this post

What Does Management Mean to You, How Big is It, & Can It Be Done?

 

Mike Spanbauer

Mike Spanbauer

  • The IT management toolkit consists of at least a dozen or more management tools to address element management, event stream correlation and trending, business process automation, virtualization control, to name a few, it’s a complex task to integrate and one that falls to consulting or the DevOps.
  • APIs and pre-tested integrations will become priority feature enterprises will evaluate when making technology decisions.

Gone are the days of being able to choose a point management product for a specific problem or vendor device and installing that parallel to other, dedicated task tools.  Today’s IT management buy centers must also evaluate the integrations with their existing toolsets, many of which were not tested by the vendor.  Network management vendors partner programs assist in integration and testing with other vendors but are limited to a small subset of third parties that joined the program.   These systems include element management, virtualization software, an event framework for operations and security streams, server and storage optimization tools, network tools, business process toolsets all of which should, but may not work together today.  The list of an average enterprise management software is much longer, rarely integrated well, and a hurdle to greater IT efficiency.  Much of this integration falls to a role that has always been a jack-of-all (integration) trades, the DevOps administrator. Read more of this post

Software Defined Networks: Is the Technology Catching Up with the Hype?

Mike Spanbauer

Mike Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • SDN may have begun academically focused on enterprise LAN needs, but carrier interest is intense and driving innovation as well.
  • More SDN solutions are materializing out of powerpoints and into reality today, with some creative and innovative answers to challenging problems in the past – but when will adoption begin to accelerate?

SDN may be the most exciting networking technology since the advent of Internet Protocol (IP).  At its most fundamental, the concept of SDN provides a construct by which we can discuss the implementation of services within the fabric of the network itself, whether by decentralized routing & flow tables or the abstraction of more advanced network services that are embedded within the network intelligence itself.  There are many approaches, many proposals and of course many vendors vying for a piece of the pie that is in the oven.  It is likely that 2013 is when early momentum will begin. Cisco’s C-Scape in 2012 promised several elements of its One-PK solution would materialize in H1 2013, Juniper has come out with its own rather encompassing SDN vision, and HP has had enough time in the market to get traction (given the long sales cycles on a solution this complex), to name a few.  There are some truly great technology suppliers working in concert (mostly) to move the proverbial ball forward.  However, the question I get asked the most often remains “Is the need real?”, i.e., whether the market currently has a particular need that cannot be addressed or solved another way to which I have replied previously “Not yet, but soon.” Read more of this post

WAN Optimization: Limited to International Networks or Also Suited to Local In-Country Networks?

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Provider-managed WAN optimization is less likely to be used in the U.S. market due to the widespread availability of cost-effective bandwidth across major towns and cities.
  • A number of pan-European and UK carriers report take-up of managed WAN optimization in domestic-only networks.

WAN optimization can be a costly component and there is always going to be a tradeoff between throwing bandwidth at a problem versus implementing some sort of WAN optimization.  The other question IT managers face is whether to buy and drop in WAN optimization on their own in a DIY setup or to contract a service provider, but this is a topic for a future discussion.  Current Analysis has noticed a difference between the way UK and U.S. service providers respond to the question.  In the U.S., national operators are ambivalent about deploying their own managed WAN optimization services, because there is not much customer demand.  WAN optimization CPE and provider-managed services are expensive, and it is more logical for customers to purchase more capacity, rather than to try to manage capacity more granularly.  There are some provider WAN optimization services run out of Internet data centers, and some enterprises will buy and drop in their own CPE to triage their worst application behavior.  In contrast, BT and Colt report customers that subscribe to their domestic UK WAN optimization implementations. Read more of this post

Is Your Network Ready for the Software-Defined Data Center?

Mike Spanbauer

Mike Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • The software-defined data center is a concept that encapsulates networking, virtualization, storage, orchestration, and ultimately, a truly agile framework.
  • Orchestration and manageability must be designed into a solution, rather than being bolted on, to yield the best results.

It became evident during VMworld that the notion of a software-defined data center is central to VMware’s strategy.  However, when you pause a moment and reflect on where the tech industry has been heading for the last five to ten years, it is easy to see elements of this notion accelerating over time, really coming to dominate design principles across the disciplines that constitute the DC (storage, compute, network, and operations platforms) in the last few years.  Software-defined networking (SDN) is perhaps one of the most visible or actively marketed software-defined concepts, but when one realizes that virtualization is just another software-defined concept (compute/machines), it is easy to see the theme encompassing practically every element of DC technology, not to mention platforms and applications already being managed as software elements themselves.  The logical question here is: If all elements within a data center are software-controlled, then what about the technology characteristics of fabrics, SPB-M/Trill, FCoE, and more of the physical network elements?  The answer is that the technology differentiation of the devices which constitute the infrastructure does not go away or diminish with the SD DC, but rather becomes instrumental as the devices themselves must each integrate with upper-level orchestration platforms (i.e., VMware vCenter/vCloud Director).  Read more of this post

What Does VMware Mean to You?

Jerry Caron – Senior Vice President, Analysis

Summary Bullets:                

  • VMware’s VMworld was a hit again, pulling in partners and customers alike
  • The buzz around VMware is about much more than simple virtualization software

I did not attend last week’s VMworld in Las Vegas, hosted of course by VMware, the virtualization software market leader. I wish I had, though. While timing and location prevented my own pilgrimage, Current Analysis was very well represented as were a who’s who of technology-market partners and a robust contingent of IT executives and managers. The reason why this event has become so important for so many is simple, but also profound: Certainly VMware caught lightning in a bottle with its virtualization software, but the company is also leveraging this rather arcane solution as a platform to help solve myriad other IT problems, both with and without partner support. Read more of this post

SDN Market Frenzy: Your Network Best Practices Remain Important!

M. Spanbauer

M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Software-defined networking (SDN) is a massive, all-encompassing concept which spans campus, data center, WAN, and carrier backbone networks (pretty much every type of networking infrastructure imaginable) and is being touted by some as capable of solving nearly every networking issue that has plagued us for the last 20 years; and yes, it does make coffee in the morning for you (no, not really).
  • Eventually, SDN may do most of the things claimed, but getting there will take a long time and some IT fundamentals and best practices will remain critical moving forward.

The OpenFlow protocol and (more recently) SDN have been discussed and put forth as solutions to complex, hierarchical, legacy architectures that were built up over years to solve the complex performance and management needs of enterprises and service providers alike.  Yes, the technology for each type of deployment was different (MPLS vs. OSPF vs. multicast, etc.), based on various criteria, but regardless of the technology, each vertical or segment executed on best practices learned over years of (sometimes painful) experience.  The result was a set of processes and instructions, if you will, that each IT or production environment team could leverage as they looked to new protocols or ports or architectures to avoid the same pitfalls encountered before.  SDN promises to eliminate the need for several of these, but a few still demand strict adherence or consideration. Read more of this post

Beyond the Cloud: Top Data Center Providers Emphasize Flexibility, Security

A. DeCarlo

A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:       

  • Cloud solutions rule long-range enterprise IT planning sessions, but today’s corporate data center requirements are much more nuanced and complex.
  • Top providers deliver a range of capabilities, including the transition support organizations need as they consolidate servers and plot future cloud migrations. 

IT organizations today cannot risk being without a clear cloud strategy for the future.  However, the focus in the data center now is on near-term needs.  Even in the midst of the cascading cloud computing wave, on-demand computing solutions still constitute a relatively small percentage of the revenues of most of the leading data center services providers today.  Frankly, most organizations are too busy (grappling with myriad tactical challenges) to address longer-term, strategic issues, through cloud technology or any other data center solution. Read more of this post

Interop 2012: Virtualize, Mobilize, Exercise (Bring Walking Shoes)

M. Spanbauer

M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Interop 2012 promises to be larger than the 2011 show, a good sign of enterprise interest and investment in network technologies.
  • Mobility, virtualization, fabrics, and cloud services will dominate much of the discussion surrounding the trade show.

With the 2012 Las Vegas Interop just over a week away, inquiries and invitations have been flooding in.  From wireless to fabrics to virtualization and everything cloud-related, there is a great deal of energy and excitement around enterprise challenges and how best to address them (with a great deal of differentiation between offerings).  UBM has brought together a compelling track list and the open sessions are almost certain to be full every day, so get registered and get to the rooms early to ensure a seat.  Last year, many popular sessions were standing room only, and this year is almost certain to command similar audiences.  Virtualization challenges, evolving management platforms, and vendor interoperability will be key for data center-centric pitches, while most campus and organizational issues touch upon consumerized IT and the host of challenges around BYOD. Read more of this post