|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.]
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Oct. 24, 2014 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,074
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
Oct. 23, 2014 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,390
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff hap...
Oct. 23, 2014 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,482
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
Oct. 23, 2014 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,477
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
Oct. 23, 2014 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,422
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Oct. 22, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,309
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Oct. 22, 2014 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,488
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Oct. 22, 2014 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,510
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
Oct. 22, 2014 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,518
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Oct. 22, 2014 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,613
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
Oct. 21, 2014 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,481
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
Oct. 21, 2014 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,418
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
Oct. 21, 2014 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,500
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
Oct. 21, 2014 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,437
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Oct. 21, 2014 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,512
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
Oct. 21, 2014 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,504
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...
Oct. 21, 2014 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,578
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named "Gold Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic network...
Oct. 21, 2014 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,634
SimpleECM is the only platform to offer a powerful combination of enterprise content management (ECM) services, capture solutions, and third-party business services providing simplified integrations and workflow development for solution providers. SimpleECM is opening the market to businesses of all sizes by reinventing the delivery of ECM services. Our APIs make the development of ECM services simple with the use of familiar technologies for a frictionless integration directly into web applicat...
Oct. 20, 2014 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,728
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic...
Oct. 20, 2014 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,081