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Plexxi Pulse: Plexxi on Arista’s IPO

There’s no shortage of talk this week about Arista’s IPO. The company began trading on the NYSE today above the market’s expectations, leading to a strong start right out of the gate. In my opinion, Arista’s IPO demonstrates the viability of hardware and the robustness of Ethernet switching in a space that has been saying for years that hardware is going away. Investors believe there is market share up for grabs in the networking industry and are going after it accordingly. My colleague Mike Bushong did a nice write up earlier this week titled “5 things Arista’s impending IPO says about networking.”

This week’s PlexxiTube video of the week our own Dan Backman covers how to troubleshoot the Plexxi ring when there are issues in your network. He analyzes how to go about quickly identifying and isolating the issue so you can resolve it with minimal disruption.

You may have seen over the past two weeks that we’ve been running a social campaign on Twitter highlighting the biggest networking events in history. See all of the biggest ones we included in the #EvolutionoftheNetwork Storify below.

SDN Isn’t Growing Networking, It’s Slowing It Down

, Sean Michael Kerner of Enterprise Networking Planetcomments on new Infonetics Research that points to SDN hesitation as having a negative impact on the buying patterns in the service provider space. I don’t know if it’s SDN that is slowing people down or the companies that are selling it. The challenge we have now is that there is a much hotter battle over mindshare than there has been in recent years. It makes everything confusing. It has been a decade since I have seen this kind of FUD spread about so liberally. Additionally, the talk about SDN is all about general networking, which is far more difficult to deploy.

When you talk general network, are you telling me that I need to rip and replace my network? Because now I have to include a whole lot more people to make a decision. Vendors and customers alike would be well-served by narrowing the discussion to something that is deployable. Forget the whole network – talk about what specific needs to be done. Beyond that, the fact that there is more competition than ever before means that the mindless people who just kept buying more of the same are starting to consider more. This leads to hesitation as well. Exciting times.

Is SDN Flattening Ethernet Switch Sales?

Craig Matsumoto of SDNCentral comments on the recent slow-down in spending on routers and switches. In my opinion, we are seeing hesitation in buying largely because there is more competition than ever. When there is only one brand of ketchup on the shelf, you just grab it and move on. When there are 10 similarly labeled bottled of ketchup, you have to pause and think. And if you don’t really know why you need ketchup, maybe you start looking at the labels and prices and claims.

We are seeing more competition than we have ever seen in this space. That it is slowing buying patterns down some is not surprising. This is why vendors need to be very clear about why they are special. If you are the best ketchup for hash browns, then label it that way. No one else will land in the exact same place. You might give up some other uses, but you will win 100% of the hash brown space. As a small company, that might be enough to expand your ketchup to cover the hot dog market.

Pssst. IBM Has Quietly Walked Away From the Software-Defined Networking Business (Exclusive)

Earlier this week, VentureBeat reporter Jordan Novet wrote an interesting exclusive on how IBM has quietly walked away from its SDN business. Personally, I wonder how much of this has to do with the ability to monetize the software itself vs the services. It could be that there just wasn’t enough opportunity there, and expecting SDN to pull through additional IBM sales might not have made a lot of sense.

Regardless, this knocks one of the systems integrators in the space, which might make Cisco’s expertise (especially in large accounts) even more valuable as people work to figure out how to cobble all of this together.

There will be lots of opportunities on the VAR side to handle SDN integrations, along with OpenStack and some of the DevOps tools. And for new vendors, those that make it easier to drive adoption will likely have more success. The days of networking where you could build a brick that took forever and a day to integrate are quickly coming to a close.

Optimize Your Infrastructure Without Breaking the Bank

, Bill Kleyman of InformationWeek looks at how software-based systems can be cost-effective ways to streamline your IT operations. In my opinion, the hardware/software distinction might be losing steam. At least in the networking space, most of the major players in both the big iron and the appliance spaces are increasingly converging on a narrow set of merchant silicon and off-the-shelf processors. That pricing is still tied to hardware is an artifact of pricing models and buying patterns.

If everyone ends up shipping on similar (and similarly-priced) hardware, then the distinction between hardware and software becomes a little bit less important. You need to have both.

Accordingly, people should be fairly clear about what they are looking to do and then keep the aperture for evaluation wide. Then narrow the field based on whatever criteria are important.

SDN Seen Slowing Spending on Routers, Switches

Jim Duffy also commented on Infonetics Research’s report on slowing router and switch spending in his article for Network World. I think that the slow-down goes beyond just waiting for technology. What we are seeing now is a change in the competitive landscape. Where the buying process used to include two vendors (and sometimes one other one for appearances), there is now legitimate competition for new deals. By leveling the architectural playing field, SDN is doing more than providing new technology – it is forcing choice.

Imagine a fast food restaurant. There is a reason that the menus are relatively small. This is the “fast” part of fast food. They need people to get in and get out so they can turn over their clients. When you add choice, you slow things down (and you also create more buyers’ regret).

Technology maturity is part of this, but in my opinion we are seeing buying behaviors change for the first time in more than a decade. This is significant. It also ought to inform vendors how they should go to market. Being a generalist is great for the largest incumbent, but not for anyone else.

 

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More Stories By Mat Mathews

Visionary solutions are built by visionary leaders. Plexxi co-founder and Vice President of Product Management Mat Mathews has spent 20 years in the networking industry observing, experimenting and ultimately honing his technology vision. The resulting product — a combination of traditional networking, software-defined networking and photonic switching — represents the best of Mat's career experiences. Prior to Plexxi, Mat held VP of Product Management roles at Arbor Networks and Crossbeam Systems. Mat began his career as a software engineer for Wellfleet Communications, building high speed Frame Relay Switches for the carrier market. Mat holds a Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.