|By Michael Bushong||
|March 26, 2014 12:30 PM EDT||
The overall networking landscape has been going through a fairly deliberate shift over the past couple of years. Where we used to talk CapEx, we are now talking OpEx. Where we used to talk features, we are now talking about workflows. This change in industry dialogue mirrors the rise of trends like SDN and DevOps. I have been a huge fan of automation in general and DevOps in particular for many years now. But, as an industry, are we leaving people behind unintentionally?
When you think about the largest and most dynamic networks in the world (typically characterized as either service providers or web-scale companies), topics like automation are a no-brainer. The sheer number of devices in the networks that these companies manage demands something more than keying in changes manually. And for these types of companies, the network is not just an enabler – it is a central part of their business. Without the network, there is no business. It’s not terribly surprising that these companies hire small armies of capable engineers and developers to make everything function smoothly.
In these environments, automation is not a nice-to-have. It’s closer to food and water than it is to sports and entertainment. Accordingly, their interest in technologies that support automation is high. Their capability in putting automation tools to use is high. And if their abilities do not match their requirements, they open up their wallets to make sure they get there (think: OSS/BSS).
In networking, there is a prevailing belief that what is good for these complex environments will eventually make its way into smaller, less complex networks. It might take time, but the technologies and best practices that the most advanced companies employ, will eventually trickle down to everyone else. It’s sort of the networking equivalent of Reaganomics.
But is this necessarily true?
First, let me reiterate that I am a huge advocate for automation and DevOps. But these capabilities might not be universally required. Automation is most important in environments where either the volume or rate of change is high enough to justify the effort. If the network is relatively static, changing primarily to swap out old gear for new functionally equivalent gear, it might not be necessary to automate much at all. Or if network changes are tied to incremental growth, it might not make sense to automate the very much.
Automation enthusiasts (myself included) will likely react somewhat viscerally to the idea that automation isn’t necessary. “But even in these cases, automation is useful!” Certainly, it is useful. But what if your IT team lacks the expertise to automate all the things. What then? Sure, you can change the team up, but is it worth the effort?
And even if it is worth the effort, how far along the automation path will most companies need to go? It could be that simple shell scripts are more than enough to manage the rate of change for some companies. Full-blown DevOps would be like bringing a cruise missile to a water gun fight.
In saying this, I am not trying to suggest that automation or DevOps are not important. Rather, the tools we associate with these are just that: tools. They need to be applied thoughtfully and where it makes sense. Vendors that build these tools and then to try to push them too far down into the market will find that the demand for cruise missiles drops off pretty precipitously after the top-tier companies.
Even smaller-scale infrastructure does require workflow though. The trick is in packaging the tools so that they are right-sized for the problems they are addressing.
This obviously starts with discarding the notion that workflows are common across all sizes of networks. That is simply not true. The reason that there is pushback when people say that the future of network engineering is programming is that for many people, it is not yet a foregone conclusion that full-blown automation is worth the effort.
For these people, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
The conclusion to draw here is not that automation is not a good thing. It’s that automation packaged as a complex DIY project isn’t always the right fit. Not everyone wants to do it themselves. At home, it turns out I am capable of repainting a room, but it just isn’t worth my time, so I hire a professional. In a network, people might be fully capable of automating policy provisioning and still find that it isn’t worth doing because policy for them just isn’t that complex.
What vendors ought to be doing is packaging their workflow optimizations in a way that is far easier to consume. Rather than building scaffolding around the network to handle management, it might make sense to make the management itself much more intuitive and more a core part of the way devices are architected.
This might sound like a brain dead statement, but consider that most networking devices are designed by people who do not run networks. And even worse, the workflows that dictate how things are used are frequently the last thing designed. If the mid-market and below are to get the advantages of the automation capabilities that the big guys are driving, vendors will need to design workflows explicitly for broad adoption.
If we really want to make the juice worth the squeeze, we need to make the squeeze a lot less painful. We need to move beyond automated networking closer to intuitive networking.
[Today’s fun fact: Lake Nicaragua boasts the only fresh water sharks in the entire world. I would be very motivated not to fall down while water skiing.]
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided 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 sett...
Oct. 1, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,728
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Oct. 1, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 603
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.
Oct. 1, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,197
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Oct. 1, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,763
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, will explore the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and will give a real live, hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He will examine three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. This is a hands-on session that will require participants to bring their own laptops, and we will provide the rest.
Oct. 1, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,505
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Oct. 1, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,064
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Oct. 1, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 868
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Oct. 1, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,191
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,126
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,548
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 662
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,341
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,275
Adobe is changing the world though digital experiences. Adobe helps customers develop and deliver high-impact experiences that differentiate brands, build loyalty, and drive revenue across every screen, including smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs. Adobe content solutions are used daily by millions of companies worldwide-from publishers and broadcasters, to enterprises, marketing agencies and household-name brands. Building on its established design leadership, Adobe enables customers not o...
Oct. 1, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 651
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sheng Liang to Keynote at SYS-CON's 19th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1-3, 2016 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Oct. 1, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 341
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,814
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,339
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Oct. 1, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 891
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Oct. 1, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 650
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Oct. 1, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 733