|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.]
In their Live Hack” presentation at 17th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty and Paul Fletcher, Chief Security Evangelists at Alert Logic, will provide the audience with a chance to see a live demonstration of the common tools cyber attackers use to attack cloud and traditional IT systems. This “Live Hack” uses open source attack tools that are free and available for download by anybody. Attendees will learn where to find and how to operate these tools for the purpose of testing their own IT infrastructu...
Aug. 30, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 383
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
Aug. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 382
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and a...
Aug. 29, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 424
Red Hat is investing in Tesora, the number one contributor to OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) also ranked among the top 20 companies contributing to OpenStack overall. Tesora, the company bringing OpenStack Trove Database as a Service (DBaaS) to the enterprise, has announced that Red Hat and others have invested in the company as a part of Tesora's latest funding round. The funding agreement expands on the ongoing collaboration between Tesora and Red Hat, which dates back to Febr...
Aug. 29, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 322
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of I...
Aug. 29, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 379
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
Aug. 29, 2015 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 372
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Aug. 29, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 325
Cloud and datacenter migration innovator AppZero has joined the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance Program. AppZero is a fast, flexible way to move Windows Server applications from any source machine – physical or virtual – to any destination server, in any cloud or datacenter, using its patented container technology. AppZero’s container is also called a Virtual Application Appliance (VAA). To facilitate Microsoft Azure onboarding, AppZero has two purpose-built offerings: AppZero SP for Azure,...
Aug. 29, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 150
WSM International, the pioneer and leader in server migration services, has announced an agreement with WHOA.com, a leader in providing secure public, private and hybrid cloud computing services. Under terms of the agreement, WSM will provide migration services to WHOA.com customers to relocate some or all of their applications, digital assets, and other computing workloads to WHOA.com enterprise-class, secure cloud infrastructure. The migration services include detailed evaluation and planning...
Aug. 29, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 146
This Enterprise Strategy Group lab validation report of the NEC Express5800/R320 server with Intel® Xeon® processor presents the benefits of 99.999% uptime NEC fault-tolerant servers that lower overall virtualized server total cost of ownership. This report also includes survey data on the significant costs associated with system outages impacting enterprise and web applications. Click Here to Download Report Now!
Aug. 29, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 155
IBM’s Blue Box Cloud, powered by OpenStack, is now available in any of IBM’s globally integrated cloud data centers running SoftLayer infrastructure. Less than 90 days after its acquisition of Blue Box, IBM has integrated its Blue Box Cloud Dedicated private-cloud-as-a-service into its broader portfolio of OpenStack® based solutions. The announcement, made today at the OpenStack Silicon Valley event, further highlights IBM’s continued support to deliver OpenStack solutions across all cloud depl...
Aug. 29, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 203
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
Aug. 29, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 252
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 29, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 854
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Aug. 29, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 438
Introducing Containers & Microservices Bootcamp at @CloudExpo Silicon Valley | #Containers #Microservices
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
Aug. 29, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 243
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes ab...
Aug. 29, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 588
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of tech...
Aug. 29, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 201
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
Aug. 29, 2015 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 560
U.S. companies are desperately trying to recruit and hire skilled software engineers and developers, but there is simply not enough quality talent to go around. Tiempo Development is a nearshore software development company. Our headquarters are in AZ, but we are a pioneer and leader in outsourcing to Mexico, based on our three software development centers there. We have a proven process and we are experts at providing our customers with powerful solutions. We transform ideas into reality.
Aug. 29, 2015 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 515
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
Aug. 29, 2015 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 354