Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, David H Deans, Pat Romanski, Scott Hirsch

Blog Feed Post

Simplifying network simplification

Simplify. We all hear it all the time. We hear how this tool or that technology will simplify. In networking, we hear how controllers, protocols, APIs, and virtualization layers will all simplify. Remove a keystroke here. Maybe automate something there. All in the name of simplification. But it might be that our very approach to simplification needs to be simplified.

The most well-known example of simplification being successful has to be Apple’s foray into consumer electronics. The iPod disrupted more than just the handheld music industry. En route to making the Walkman a great tool for making us all feel old, Apple redesigned how we interact with devices, influencing several product generations and an entire human generation.

But what exactly did Apple do?

Apple wasn’t the most fully-featured MP3 player on the market. And it wasn’t that they enjoyed some first-mover advantage in cornering the market. They didn’t even benefit from their content side until later. What the iPod did was much more foundational than any of that. Put simply, the iPod represents Apple’s attempt to ween us off all the functionality that had gotten in the way of a truly great experience.

The iPod effectively reduced the user experience to only those things that were absolutely essential. And in doing so, they presented a user interface that was at once simple and intuitive.

Apple correctly identified that the most important things people needed to do were: play/stop, fast forward/reverse, and search, all in a form factor that was smaller and more mobile. They made the iPod as complex as it needed to be and no more.

What the networking world could learn

The networking world could learn a lot from this exercise. And I am talking about way more than slick UIs that make managing the beast a bit easier.

As a group, we need to reduce networking to its most basic functions. It’s not the capabilities that we actually crave. How could we? The average device in production is using less than 5% of its available capabilities. Interestingly enough, the other 95% of features that go largely unused and likely unnoticed do contribute to the overall cost in networking. Developing the software that drives the network requires extensive development and testing, and every esoteric feature adds just that many more combinations of features that have to be tested (or released untested). With each test, effort, and with each effort, cost. We are all victims of our inability to reduce the superset of things our devices currently do.

If we took an Apple-esque approach to networking, we might find ourselves in a different place. So we ought to ask ourselves: what is the networking equivalent of play, fast forward, and search?

What does the network really do?

Before we overthink the answer, consider the question: what does the network really do? Fundamentally, networking is about two things: bringing things together, and keeping things apart.

At its most basic, the network is about connecting things. We want this thing to talk to that thing. We want this segment of the network to be within the same domain as that segment. We want this set of devices to behave as if they are co-located with that set of devices. So much of what we do is about enabling this type of communication or grouping.

By the way, this is not all just a configuration thing. When we are really trying to optimize performance, we do things like put stuff in the same physical rack so that the things we want to be together are physically close as well. A good example of this is rack awareness in Big Data applications.

On the other side, we work very hard to keep things apart. We employ security and edge policy constructs aimed precisely to do this. We might want to isolate broadcast domains, or keep routes from leaking from our internal networks into our external networks. A rich set of policies have evolved to get very fine-grained control over how we keep things apart.

Everything we do more or less fits into these buckets.

The key to simplifying the network isn’t in putting a layer over the top of a complex landscape of behavior specifications. That just masks the complexity, exposing it in different ways to the user. Doing this makes management simpler but it does nothing to really simplify networking. All the cost (actual expense but also the unreasonable frailty that exists in most networks) stays in the system. Behind the abstraction, people still have to build, test, and support a diverse set of functionality.

Collectively, we sort of understand this implicitly. This is why every few years a new crop of purpose-built solutions comes to market. The idea is that by focusing on a narrower set of use cases, we can start over clean, remove all the complexity and be happy. Fundamentally, this is what Arista did.

The challenge here is that though we start clean, we grow along the same overall trajectory that we always do. Over time, we reintroduce the complexity and hence the cost.

Breaking the cycle

To break the cycle, we need to actually simplify networking. We need to reduce networks to the equivalent of the iPod wheel. Our wheel might have a few more buttons and options because the task we are charged with is fundamentally more complex. But we ought not concede before we start that all the complexity that is there has to be there. The hard work (and the reason no one did it before Apple) is in having the confidence to go to market with something that just works better.

But if you do this, there is an entire market of opportunity waiting. You have to wonder if this market will absolutely jump at the chance to simplify given all they have ever been exposed to is complicating solutions.

[Today’s fun fact: Peanuts are used in the manufacture of dynamite. This is why people with nut allergies should never get blown up by dynamite.]

The post Simplifying network simplification appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
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...
Can we look to the paradigm of cloud computing from a completely different perspective? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Gundars Kulups, Sales Director at DEAC, will discuss what we can learn from our dining habits when choosing a cloud solution. Gundars Kulups is Sales Director at DEAC, full service data center operator. An IT expert, he specializes in European countries and has worked in the IT industry since 1992. He graduated from Riga Technical University (RTU) in Latvia and com...
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...
As cloud gives an opportunity to businesses to buy services externally - how is cloud impacting your customers? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Fabio Gori, Director of Worldwide Cloud Marketing at Cisco, will provide answers to big questions: Do you see hybrid cloud as where the world is going? What benefits does it bring? And how does Cisco connect all of these clouds? He will also tell us everything about Intercloud and Cisco investment on it.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media 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. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Parasoft 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. For 27 years, Parasoft has researched and developed software solutions that help organizations deliver defect-free software efficiently. By integrating Development Testing, API/cloud/SOA/composite app testing, and service virtualization, we reduce the time, effort, and cost of delivering secur...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform...
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...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-devic...
Until recently, many organizations required specialized departments to perform mapping and geospatial analysis, and they used Esri on-premise solutions for that work. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dave Peters, author of the Esri Press book Building a GIS, System Architecture Design Strategies for Managers, will discuss how Esri has successfully included the cloud as a fully integrated SaaS expansion of the ArcGIS mapping platform. Organizations that have incorporated Esri cloud-based appl...
Dyn solutions are at the core of Internet Performance. Through traffic management, message management and performance assurance, Dyn is connecting people through the Internet and ensuring information gets where it needs to go, faster and more reliably than ever before. Founded in 2001 at WPI, Dyn’s global presence services more than four million enterprise, small business and personal customers.
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...
IBM and Tencent Cloud signed a business cooperation memorandum to collaborate on providing public cloud with Software-as-a-Service solutions for industries. Both parties agreed to focus on emerging small and medium enterprises in the smarter cities and smarter healthcare industries as well as other fields. This will enable these industries to utilize mobile, cloud computing and big data tools to transform internal processes and operations, thus achieving cloud transformation in the era of mobili...
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...
European data center operator DEAC is the largest in the Baltics. The activities are orientated to provide data center services and IT outsourcing on Eurasia and America scale in order to create the primary or backup or additional data center for customer in the EU, to protect its business and, most importantly, reduce costs up to 40% within 3-5 years. DEAC is an IT outsourcing services and solutions company whose highly experienced and qualified employees offer various groups of services and...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
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...
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Ashar Baig, Research ...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?