|By Michael Bushong||
|March 31, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
What makes a commodity, a “commodity?” Is this word now on the very long list of words we have made meaningless in our industry? Many times, when I’m out and about talking to folk in our industry, I get the sense that they think commodity means “cheap” or “I can order it from Amazon now without the help of an expert.” So let’s explore this a little bit in this post..
The Value of a Commodity
Lots of things are commodities. Lettuce, toothpaste, and bubble gum are all examples. These things are mostly inexpensive and easily acquired. However “cheap” and “easy to get” are not the only qualifiers for what constitutes a commodity. What people want out of a commodity product is well understood. The utility, or value, of a commodity is easily realized by the user. The value is so well understood, and so easily extracted, with little effort or money, that it’s nearly impossible to innovate meaningfully in a given space. When I put that quarter into the gum-ball machine, I know exactly what I’m getting and I know the reward for putting that quarter into the machine will arrive quickly.
The thing about networking, and infrastructure in general, is that the value is still not well understood or easily extracted. There are no 100G transceivers in gum-ball machines waiting to be dispensed for a quarter. Even if you could do that, how easily could you realize the value of that transceiver? Similarly, there are no ethernet switches in those machines. In fact, not even the value of “cloud services” is easily extracted. What this means is that innovation is just not over yet in our field. Why would it be? It took over 100 years for telephony to be so well understood and easily provided and consumed that I can now make a call from anything in my house that has electricity. More specifically, I mean, this capability is nearly ubiquitous and isn’t the sole privilege of the affluent technorati. Even my dad, who wears camouflage sweatpants when he goes out to eat, and thinks HD televisions should be perfectly square, can use his smartphone without asking me for help. Most of the time.
We have a while to go before infrastructure really is a commodity for the organizations and people that consume it. One sure sign that we are not there yet is the never ending list of certification programs offered by hardware, software, and cloud providers. What certification really means, when looked at in the context of “the short T”, is that people are certified translators. They translate between the needs of the business, and the idioms of the underlying systems and services. It might be hard to imagine infrastructure ever evolving enough to not require these expert translators, but that time will come.
In the meantime, the core value of many of these systems and services is not directly manageable or easily extracted. In networking, we still need that rosetta stone. That’s just a fact.
The User Experience Hump
In a previous life, I had a manager that was extremely frugal. Price-per-port was the only thing that mattered to him. When his network engineers wanted tools, like sniffers or centralized management software, he was famous for saying things like “Why would I buy a tool to make your job easier? You are the tool.” He used to joke about carrying around vials filled with the tears of his network engineers.
Well, one fine day, this manager purchased a certain vendor’s products that had a feature in them that allowed users to put all their changes into a device at once before any of them would have an effect. Additionally you could validate the changes on the device to some extent before saving them, thus providing a way to reduce operator error a little more. Operators could review all these changes together and then save them all at once.
Several years later when considering quotes between this vendor and the more traditional vendor, this manager made an unexpected decision. We had network requirements for a new project. The traditional vendor was actually far more economical. More ports, more features, more functionality, too. However, when pressed to go with the traditional vendor, the manager responded, “Yeah, yeah.. but I get yelled at less because my guys are checking their work before they save it. It’s only 20 racks or so, just buy two of [the newer vendor's] switches for each rack.”
As an industry, we need to get past the UX hump. We need to acknowledge that ultimately, it’s the only thing that matters. ”Network” is long, long overdue for a better user experience. What is wanted from the network, precisely, is becoming well understood. Traditionally it’s been nearly impossible to make this easily extracted and directly manageable. An entire industry has been built around network alchemy due to the seemingly infinite number of “snowflake” network products and the limits of the components used to build them. Alchemists must bend, twist, and mix to meet the needs of the business.
The UX of Commodity Networking
A great collapse is coming, and it will be the collapse of idiosyncratic networking. It will be the first real sign that the network is evolving towards true commodity status. This will be a major turning point for our industry, and it means the focus will shift towards the experience of the user. When this happens, any “innovation” that does not bring to the surface, in a directly manageable and easily accessible way, the core value of the network, is meaningless.
Intuitive networking will be as easy as putting a quarter into the machine and turning the knob. When that tiny plastic bubble falls into your hands, you’ll have a network that manages it’s own topology and the workloads that ride over it. User Experience will be brought into the modern day, out of the stone ages.
We’re not there yet, though. Networking isn’t a commodity because there’s still work to do. While prices are going down, the next phase will be a hard turn towards user experience.
[Fun fact: Most "IE" level certifications require you to recertify every two years. What this means is that you will waste months of your life pouring over thousands of pages of text, memorizing lots of useless facts, and spending hundreds of dollars on exams. That's why, this year, I started letting my certifications expire. One gone, two more to go. Learn Python, it's less pages and it's way more fun.]
[Fun fact #2: If you're reading this Dad, there's nothing wrong with camouflage sweatpants. TVs should not be square though, you need to get over that.]
Many banks and financial institutions are experimenting with containers in development environments, but when will they move into production? Containers are seen as the key to achieving the ultimate in information technology flexibility and agility. Containers work on both public and private clouds, and make it easy to build and deploy applications. The challenge for regulated industries is the cost and complexity of container security compliance. VM security compliance is already challenging, ...
May. 25, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 968
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
May. 25, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 775
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
May. 25, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,032
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. ...
May. 25, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,035
Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) will feature the upcoming 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in a New York news documentary about the "New IT for the Future." The documentary will cover how big companies are transmitting or adopting the new IT for the future and will be filmed on the expo floor between June 7-June 9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. KBS has long been a leader in the development of the broadcasting culture of Korea. As the key public service broadcaster of Korea...
May. 25, 2016 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,687
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
May. 25, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,111
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...
May. 24, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 785
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
May. 24, 2016 11:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,083
As machines are increasingly connected to the internet, it’s becoming easier to discover the numerous ways Industrial IoT (IIoT) is helping to shape the business world. This is exactly why we have decided to take a closer look at this pervasive movement and to examine the desire to connect more things! Now if you need a refresher on IIoT and how it is changing the world, take a moment and listen to Greg Gorbach with ARC Advisory Group. Gorbach believes, "IIoT will significantly change the worl...
May. 24, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,800
Enterprise networks are complex. Moreover, they were designed and deployed to meet a specific set of business requirements at a specific point in time. But, the adoption of cloud services, new business applications and intensifying security policies, among other factors, require IT organizations to continuously deploy configuration changes. Therefore, enterprises are looking for better ways to automate the management of their networks while still leveraging existing capabilities, optimizing perf...
May. 24, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 966
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
May. 24, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,655
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit y...
May. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,852
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
May. 24, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,685
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will discuss the vast to...
May. 24, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,359
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting 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. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
May. 24, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,084
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
May. 24, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,857
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...
May. 24, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,377
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
May. 24, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,067
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 ...
May. 24, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,760
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City, and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
May. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,261