Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Nicole Bryan, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Greg Schulz

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Networking: CapEx, OpEx, and… In-App Purchases?

The fact that the ’S’ in SDN stands for software is reason enough for people to look beyond the chassis

From a cost perspective, the networking dialogue is dominated by CapEx. Acquisition costs for new networking gear have historically been tied to hardware, and despite the relatively recent rise of bare metal switching, networking hardware remains a high-stakes business. But SDN is changing this dynamic in potentially significant ways.

The first point to clarify when talking about CapEx is that CapEx does not necessarily mean hardware (at least not the way that most people mean). While there is a strict financial definition for CapEx, in the networking industry it has become shorthand for Procurement Costs. Because networking solutions have been predominantly monetized through hardware, we associate procurement costs with hardware, but this is changing.

The fact that the ’S’ in SDN stands for software is reason enough for people to look beyond the chassis. But the reality is that while vendors have monetized the hardware, the value has been increasingly moving to the software side for more than a decade. So long as everyone was selling hardware, it didn’t really matter that much whether the cost was tied to the hardware or the software, so we have been a little bit lazy collectively in determining a deliberate pricing mix.

More recently, however, there have been additional solutions that are offered entirely through software. With virtual networking devices, for example, there is no physical hardware (unless you count the servers and the network that connects the servers). A common sales tactic for these types of solutions is to point out how expensive physical solutions are. Why pay for all that sheet metal when you can get the same functionality in a virtual form factor? Of course, you are not really paying for the sheet metal; your check also pays for the software and all the features that go into that sheet metal. But the argument is pretty compelling.

The point here is that the only thing that really matters is how much you pay for the whole solution. Whether the price is affixed to hardware or software is an accounting detail – important for some people, but not really the most important thing for the majority of buyers. Rather than calling it CapEx, we ought to be referring more broadly to procurement or acquisition costs. All in, Solution A costs X dollars to bring in house, and Solution B costs Y dollars.

This would certainly simplify the conversation some. But even then, it isn’t all about procurement costs anymore either.

Depending on the solution, the procurement costs account for roughly one-third of the total cost of ownership. The remaining two-thirds of the cost is ongoing operating expense (power, cooling, space, management, support, and so on). The models here for most solutions start to get pretty squishy. While we can fairly formulaically determine things like power, space, and support, when it comes to estimating the cost of managing a device, the models are so dependent on uncontrollable things that they border on useless. And even when the models are sound, most companies have not sufficiently instrumented their network operations to really know what they are spending.

But just because it is difficult to model OpEx does not mean that network teams should ignore it.

If there is one thing that the gaming industry has taught us, it is that there are all kinds of creative ways to separate someone from their money. In the early days of video games, 100% of the cost was procurement cost. After you bought the install media, you had paid everything you were ever going to pay. Before long, some of the more popular games figured out that they could lower initial costs (make the barrier to entry lower) and then charge for ongoing use through subscriptions.

As the networking world adjusts the pricing mix – associating more of the cost with the software – we should expect that charge models will mirror what we have seen on the consumer side. It is not a big stretch (and in fact already happening) to see massive up-front hardware costs replaced with more palatable hardware pricing combined with either higher software or potentially support costs. This has the dual benefit of making it easier for customers to select a vendor, and creating annuities for said vendor.

But the evolution of game pricing models did not end with subscriptions.

For anyone who has gotten sucked into the hell that is Candy Crush, you are already well aware of in-app purchases. The initial game is free, but if you want to get a special advantage or unlock a level, you can make an in-app purchase. They have cleverly priced the in-app purchases to feel like you are hardly spending anything. It’s less than a dollar. I should just go ahead and get that spotted donut thingy! Of course, by the time you add up all those just a dollar moments, you end up paying far more than you ever would have up front.

The magic of this type of pricing is that most of this is not really known up front. When you first get Candy Crush, you don’t really think you are going to buy the special extras. And Candy Crush doesn’t tell you that the levels get progressively harder to the point that they are nigh impossible without a little extra help.

Before you write this off as not applicable to networking, consider a few points.

First, despite the huge open source push, there are still a lot of companies pursuing commercial grade versions of the otherwise free software. Sure, you might buy into the open source controller, but if you need the networking version of the spotted donut thing, what do you do? This is essentially the networking equivalent of the in-app purchase. Call it the in-arch purchase. Once you buy into a particular architecture, the switching costs are prohibitively high. If you have to pay more for the commercial software, can you really say no?

Second, some of the tiered pricing models that are taking root make it more difficult to accurately model ongoing license costs. If you are not thinking about how the costs will scale with the number of ports, users, VMs, or whatever, you might find out down the road that your solution is contributing more ongoing costs than anticipated. For example, buying one VM from Amazon might seem easy enough, but what if you need thousands? It doesn’t stay cheap forever.

Maybe the in-arch costs are just extra features or capabilities. Or ongoing support and services. Whatever the source, these types of costs contribute to the ongoing operating expenses. And because the primary purchasing criterion is CapEx (procurement costs), burying some of these costs a little later in the product lifecycle and making them a bit smaller in magnitude (but larger in volume) will be attractive.

The punch line here is that we are on the cusp of a change in monetization strategies. You might think that pricing and costs will be transparent, but has the networking community given us a real reason to believe that to date? If you think so, consider this: why do buyers celebrate 50% discounts? It’s because pricing is ridiculously obfuscated in this industry. Until we all start expecting more, I just don’t know why this would change.

Along those lines, my colleague Bill Koss posted some facts about Plexxi costs. In the interest of transparency, it’s worth taking a look here.

[Today’s fun fact: The wettest spot in the world is located on the island of Kauai. Mt. Waialeale consistently records rainfall at the rate of nearly 500 inches per year. That’s enough so drown 7 6-foot-tall men standing on each other’s heads.]

The post Networking: CapEx, OpEx, and… In-App Purchases? 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
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
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 ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
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...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
Digital Initiatives create new ways of conducting business, which drive the need for increasingly advanced security and regulatory compliance challenges with exponentially more damaging consequences. In the BMC and Forbes Insights Survey in 2016, 97% of executives said they expect a rise in data breach attempts in the next 12 months. Sixty percent said operations and security teams have only a general understanding of each other’s requirements, resulting in a “SecOps gap” leaving organizations u...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
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...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, 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. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
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.
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...