Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Stefan Bernbo, TJ Randall

Blog Feed Post

Cisco Classic, Cisco ACI, Arista, and Dual Vendor Strategies

That networking gear is expensive is not really a new phenomenon. SDN and bare metal switching have kicked the industry dialogue about cost up a notch, but this has obviously been a focal point for networking buyers for years. And even though things like merchant silicon and software can help drive networking costs down, the biggest driver of lower networking costs by far is competition.

This is why most large IT buyers have employed dual vendor strategies over the past several years. The general theory is that the introduction of a second supplier will promote competition between vendors. This competition places downward pressure on pricing, allowing the buyer to negotiate better discounts. More simply, if Cisco knows that Arista is knocking on the same door, they will be more likely to offer steeper discounts.

There are some nuances in how this plays out.

First, there needs to be a real threat of incumbent displacement for the pricing pressure to be real. If a buyer grabs a supplier’s branded mug and places it on the desk, that alone is unlikely to make a huge difference. If the incumbent knows that displacement is hard (because of switching costs tied to “sticky” features), the mere presence of a competitive logo is not likely enough to change pricing.

Now consider how this intersects with the library of networking features that have grown over the past several decades. Each new micro capability adds some value to the network. But that value comes at a cost. First, the explosion of networking knobs has made the network a smidge unwieldy to manage. But beyond that, each feature that is unique to a single vendor reduces the likelihood that a second supplier can compete. Effectively, every time one of these unique features is deployed, the incumbent can rest a little more easily come discount negotiation time.

It’s not surprising that Cisco has had a relative monopoly on the switching space. They have flat out owned the feature set for more than a decade. This has made it exceedingly difficult for any switch vendor to seriously encroach on Cisco’s stronghold. Accordingly, Cisco has kept discounts low and margins high, much to the chagrin of the entire market.

Enter Arista.

As Arista prepares for their IPO, it seems clear that they have reached some sort of escape velocity. Using price (merchant silicon) and software (EOS) as their primary differentiators, they have successfully built a beachhead around financial services accounts, and used that to push more broadly into the enterprise switching market.

As Arista continues their assault on enterprise switching, they are beginning to take advantage of the dual vendor strategies in the largest buyers. If you know a company has a dual vendor strategy, you don’t avoid competing with the 800-pound gorilla. Rather, you seek out the gorilla and position yourself as an alternative. If they buy your kit, they can keep price pressure on their incumbent while also establishing a backup plan in case the incumbent stumbles.

The nice thing about this strategy is that you don’t really end up competing head-to-head with Cisco, which means they can’t simply undercut you with a one-time pricing maneuver. This is good for win rates and margins. And over time, every account you establish a beachhead in provides an opportunity for future growth.

Essentially, by being a viable alternative to Cisco’s legacy switching products, Arista has established a strong presence.

Enter ACI.

Everywhere a large Cisco legacy deployment exists, Arista will come beating on the door. Where there are dual vendor strategies, this will pay off. But what happens if Cisco aggressively swaps out those legacy environments for their next-generation ACI solution?

Cisco sees the same opportunity that Arista does in every sizable legacy deployment. Where there are ancient solutions, there are also opportunities to upgrade. What happens if Cisco gets to these opportunities before Arista does?

Basically, what Cisco ends up doing is replacing legacy with ACI. If that company is employing a dual vendor strategy, this means that they don’t need an alternative to legacy networking anymore. If they are to keep pricing pressure high, they need to successfully deploy an alternative to ACI.

Obviously a move like this favors the cadre of SDN companies built around applications. Reinventing a cheaper, faster version of legacy networking is less relevant than creating solutions that handle applications and policy.

The implications here are interesting. First, where dual vendor strategy was a meaningful contributor to success, the dynamics clearly change. To impact pricing in a dual vendor environment, the architectures have to be at least somewhat conceptually equivalent. Legacy architectures don’t provide leverage against ACI. This gives Cisco some headroom while removing some of the pricing leverage that their challengers have been taking advantage of.

Second, this means that companies embarking on a dual vendor strategy need to have two vendors for both their legacy and their application-centric replacement. Minimally, this means buyers looking at Cisco’s ACI need to plan up front how a shift in architectures impacts their dual vendor strategy. It could change design, evaluation, and purchase.

From a market perspective, the impacts could be profound. Arista appears poised to be the second supplier of Cisco Classic architectures. Most markets have a dominant incumbent and a strong challenger. It could be that as Arista steps into that role, Cisco ends up changing the architecture. If their ACI initiative is successful, this could cleave the market into two: legacy and application-oriented, which would open the market to a second (though not necessarily different) challenger.

Oddly enough, this could mean that companies hoping to take on the 800-poiund gorilla will be rooting for their success.

[Today’s fun fact: A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why.]

The post Cisco Classic, Cisco ACI, Arista, and Dual Vendor Strategies 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
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU's GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes. In...
"Coalfire is a cyber-risk, security and compliance assessment and advisory services firm. We do a lot of work with the cloud service provider community," explained Ryan McGowan, Vice President, Sales (West) at Coalfire Systems, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Regulatory requirements exist to promote the controlled sharing of information, while protecting the privacy and/or security of the information. Regulations for each type of information have their own set of rules, policies, and guidelines. Cloud Service Providers (CSP) are faced with increasing demand for services at decreasing prices. Demonstrating and maintaining compliance with regulations is a nontrivial task and doing so against numerous sets of regulatory requirements can be daunting task...
CloudJumper, a Workspace as a Service (WaaS) platform innovator for agile business IT, has been recognized with the Customer Value Leadership Award for its nWorkSpace platform by Frost & Sullivan. The company was also featured in a new report(1) by the industry research firm titled, “Desktop-as-a-Service Buyer’s Guide, 2016,” which provides a comprehensive comparison of DaaS providers, including CloudJumper, Amazon, VMware, and Microsoft.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, sha...
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...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
Let’s face it, embracing new storage technologies, capabilities and upgrading to new hardware often adds complexity and increases costs. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Seth Oxenhorn, Vice President of Business Development & Alliances at FalconStor, discussed how a truly heterogeneous software-defined storage approach can add value to legacy platforms and heterogeneous environments. The result reduces complexity, significantly lowers cost, and provides IT organizations with improved efficienc...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.