|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 his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., will focus on real world deployments of DDoS mitigation strategies in every layer of the network. He will give an overview of methods to prevent these attacks and best practices on how to provide protection in complex cloud platforms. He will also outline what we have found in our experience managing and running thousands of Linux and Unix managed service platforms and what specifically c...
May. 5, 2016 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,335
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, will shares the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity.
May. 5, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,237
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, will discuss how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer...
May. 5, 2016 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,318
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
May. 5, 2016 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,205
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
May. 4, 2016 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,268
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
May. 4, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,431
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
May. 4, 2016 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,245
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
May. 4, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,710
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
May. 4, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,415
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
May. 4, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 473
See storage differently! Storage performance problems have only gotten worse and harder to solve as applications have become largely virtualized and moved to a cloud-based infrastructure. Storage performance in a virtualized environment is not just about IOPS, it is about how well that potential performance is guaranteed to individual VMs for these apps as the number of VMs keep going up real time. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in product and marketing at Tintri, will discu...
May. 4, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,084
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. 4, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,241
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
May. 4, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,362
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, 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. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 4, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,455
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...
May. 4, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 952
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, will show how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningfu...
May. 4, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,129
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
May. 4, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 620
In the world of DevOps there are ‘known good practices’ – aka ‘patterns’ – and ‘known bad practices’ – aka ‘anti-patterns.' Many of these patterns and anti-patterns have been developed from real world experience, especially by the early adopters of DevOps theory; but many are more feasible in theory than in practice, especially for more recent entrants to the DevOps scene. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists will dis...
May. 4, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,080
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
May. 4, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,226
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
May. 4, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,275