Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Tim Hinds, Pavan Kumar, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

The Coming Network Evolution: Cisco Gets It, Do You?

As Microsoft, Google, Amazon build up steam in the cloud they're creating demands for even more powerful & intelligent networks

Greg Ness's Blog

I think it is only a matter of time before ALL of the leading networking players start talking about the (strategic importance of the) network as a way to succeed in an uncertain economic climate. Last week, in "Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies" I talked about the increasingly intense pressures already building on static network infrastructure, and the underlying need for more intelligence and automation.

I think the new survival mantra for the coming economic weakness will be "He (or she) who automates wins." As the industrial age emerged from the agricultural age, and as it blends with the computer age, innovation has been driven by the ability of visionaries to boost productivity through automation and connectivity.

I just watched Cisco's John Chambers "Can IT Strengthen the Economy?" interview at the recent Gartner conference just released. Chambers clearly sees innovation as the way out. The network is strategic to business productivity. Flexibility, speed and scale are becoming even more important. That means dynamic connectivity and intelligence will become even more strategic to the network.

I think Chambers gets it and is reminding his customers that strategic innovation will trump mere cost-cutting in a period of economic uncertainty. Those who emerge will emerge even more powerful because they will have avoided the temptation to make the network tactical with the long term vision of shifting it to the cloud ala Nicholas Carr's vision of utility computing.

I think it is only a matter of time before ALL of the leading networking players start talking about the (strategic importance of the) network as a way to succeed in an uncertain economic climate. Last week, in Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies I talked about the increasingly intense pressures already building on static network infrastructure, and the underlying need for more intelligence and automation.

These intense pressures are setting the stage for the next technology boom, by creating gaps between what networks can do today and what they'll need to do tomorrow. I was amazed at how quickly the concept of Infratsructure2.0 spread, including an interesting discussion at F5 Network's pace-setting DevCentral blog.

These pressures are coming from increasing rates of change, especially in larger networks supporting more devices and branches and processes, as well as with the introduction of consolidation, virtualization and cloud computing initiatives. These new initiatives are introducing even higher rates of change and making it clear that a static network will no longer be a strategic network.

As Nicholas Carr debates with Tim O'Reilly about the form cloud will take a few nuggets emerge:

"But the cloud platform, like the software platform before it, has new rules for competitive advantage. And chief among those advantages are those that we've identified as "Web 2.0", the design of systems that harness network effects to get better the more people use them."

- Tim O'Reilly "Web2.0 and Cloud Computing, October 2008

As Nicholas correctly challenges the role of "network effects" he then engages a fallacy that I think is the core of his misperception of the role of network infrastructure within IT. That is, his electric utility as IT metaphor leads him down a path that is well-trodden from a hype perspective, but not yet enterprise-grade. He talks about economies of scale in IT that can contribute to which cloud players win or lose:

1. Capital intensity. Building a large utility computing system requires lots of capital, which itself presents a big barrier to entry.

2. Scale advantages. As O'Reilly himself notes, big players reap important scale economies in equipment, labor, real estate, electricity, and other inputs.

3. Diversity factor. One of the big advantages that accrue to utilities is their ability to make demand flatter and more predictable (by serving a diverse group of customers with varying demand patterns), which in turn allows them to use their capital more efficiently. As your customer base expands, so does your diversity factor and hence your efficiency advantage and your ability to undercut your less-efficient competitors' prices.

- Nicholas Carr, "What Time O'Reilly gets wrong about the cloud", October 2008

In Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies I talked about the prevalence of manual labor in critical IT processes, from IP address management to servers that lead to substantial scale and complexity challenges. Exactly where are the advantages if the costs of simple tasks per IP address go up (on a per IP address basis) as networks get larger? Here's what I wrote:

"As much as cloud computing has rallied behind the prospect of electricity and real estate savings, the business case still feels like a dotcom hangover in some cases. Virtualization is still a bit hamstrung in the enterprise by the disconnect between static infrastructure and moving, state-changing VMs; and labor is the largest cost component of server TCO (IDC findings) and a significant component of network TCO (as suggested by the Computerworld findings). So just how much will real estate and electricity savings offset other diseconomies and barriers in the cloud game? I think cloud computing will also have to innovate in areas like automation and connectivity intelligence."

I think that rising complexity and scale challenges driven by various initiatives (including cloud computing) will force static networks to evolve into dynamic networks. That is the only way that scale and complexity can be addressed, and I think that is the core of Carr's challenge to enterprise IT. Dynamic networks would create a new level of automation potential and reduce the sheer amount of resources dedicated to connectivity and change, which will only go up as endpoints and systems become more mobile and more dynamic.

[Thanks to Rick Kagan and Stu Bailey at Infoblox for the above image]

Across several recent articles at Archimedius I've talked about the increasingly costly demands of manual labor on IT, including IP address management, DNS, DHCP and a host of other core network services. I've talked about the importance of reachability and connectivity intelligence within the network so that solutions can learn and adapt to these new fluid systems and more powerful endpoints.

Recent Computerworld and IDC research was also cited in , my lengthy tome predicting the shrinking role of manual labor in IT. I noted larger enterprises paying more for mundane, boring tasks like managing IP addresses by spreadsheet, even on a cost per IP address basis.Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies

I'll also go so far as to suggest who the leaders are in each required category, from endpoint intelligence (Microsoft), to network intelligence (Cisco) to application intelligence (F5 Networks). I inserted Infoblox as the leader in connectivity intelligence, which I see as this emerging dynamic feedback loop between systems, endpoints and networks now overly dependent upon manual labor to address rising flexibility and scale demands. (Disclaimer: I work for Infoblox).

That's one of the reasons I was so encouraged by the recent discussion at F5's DevCentral community. Here is the post if you're interested in more.


Managing a heterogeneous infrastructure is difficult enough, but managing a dynamic, ever changing heterogeneous infrastructure that must be stable enough to deliver dynamic applications makes the former look like a walk in the park. Part of the problem is certainly the inability to manage heterogeneous network infrastructure devices from a single management system.

- Lori MacVittie, F5 DevCentral

Who knows if standards could ever emerge between the likes of Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, Riverbed and F5 Networks. Lorie is quick to point out that they have worked in the past, as with WS-I (which included Microsoft and Oracle, among others). A very interesting standard I mentioned previously is IF-MAP from the Trusted Computing Group, which includes ArcSight, Aruba, Infoblox and Juniper, among others.


As the Mind requires a Nervous System; Network Intelligence requires Connectivity Intelligence

Yet I think standards will only be part of the solution, even if they are adopted. I think the critical requirement for Infrastructure2.0 will be connectivity intelligence. TCP/IP has now outgrown its static shell and is about to be tasked with connecting even more powerful and dynamic systems. Whether it's the rise of RFID in supply chain, mobility ala Google's Android, or even the adoption of parking meters with their own IP addresses, it is clear that TCP/IP is spreading with or without a strong economy and the most productive enterprises will be the most likely to survive.

The manual labor that has driven IP address management costs higher as networks grow larger is similarly impacting other core network services (like DNS and DHCP) that were not created to support such complex arrays of devices, branches and systems. This is the broader opportunity for Juniper, Brocade and others as well, not only to reduce network infrastructure TCO but to address the new level of flexibility enabled by virtualization and other initiatives driving new scale and flexibility requirements.

Enterprises are now on the battlefield between two competing forces, the rapid proliferation of TCP/IP and the increasingly dynamic and powerful systems and endpoints attaching to the network in order to boost productivity. Those who succeed will have invested in automation based on dynamic feedback between devices and systems and the rise in network intelligence.

Gone will be manual spreadsheets tracking IP addresses across large and ever-changing extended enterprise networks. Gone will be endless hours of overtime tied up in mundane and resource-consuming tasks. Gone will be manual pings to determine whether a network is available or secure or not.

This is the next technology boom, the era of Infratsructure2.0. Cisco is already on message. F5 is getting there and I think it is only a matter of time before the marketers at the world's leading technology companies realize that the war is on, and all of the old alliances that enabled exclusivity and lock-in and layers of manual labor are off the table.

Out of this coming weakness will emerge new strength, possibilities and profits. As Microsoft, Google, Amazon build up steam in the cloud they are creating demands for even more powerful and intelligent networks. Enterprises who see the network as tactical will take the brunt of the pain from a weak economy; those who embrace automation will be the fastest to return to normal and ultimately establish and or maintain operational leadership.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Greg Ness is a Silicon Valley marketing veteran with background in networking, security, virtualization and cloud computing. He is VP Marketing at CloudVelocity. Formerly at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox, Blue Lane Technologies, Juniper Networks, Redline Networks, McAfee, IntruVerofficer at Networks and ShoreTel. He is one of the world's top cloud bloggers.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
"What we see what happens when you have a completely networked society and the potential to now drive the value creation and the collaboration and the ecosystems that are possible when you start to be able to connect people and industries together in ways that have never been possible before," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP of Marketing Enterprise & Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.