SDN Journal Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan

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
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
With privacy often voiced as the primary concern when using cloud based services, SyncriBox was designed to ensure that the software remains completely under the customer's control. Having both the source and destination files remain under the user?s control, there are no privacy or security issues. Since files are synchronized using Syncrify Server, no third party ever sees these files.
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
I believe that this may finally be the year that the CIO role ‘crosses the Rubicon,' leaving behind its traditional, IT-focused orientation. But I don't believe that either of the previous predictions of this outcome — fading into oblivion or rising to a business executive level — is correct. Instead, I think this is the year that we will see the role of the CIO transformed into something altogether different.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"Calligo is a cloud service provider with data privacy at the heart of what we do. We are a typical Infrastructure as a Service cloud provider but it's been designed around data privacy," explained Julian Box, CEO and co-founder of Calligo, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, is an accomplished digital business executive with extensive global expertise as a strategist, technologist, innovator, marketer, and communicator. For over 30 years across five continents, he has built success with Fortune 500 corporations, vendors, governments, and as a leading research analyst and consultant.
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 settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
CI/CD is conceptually straightforward, yet often technically intricate to implement since it requires time and opportunities to develop intimate understanding on not only DevOps processes and operations, but likely product integrations with multiple platforms. This session intends to bridge the gap by offering an intense learning experience while witnessing the processes and operations to build from zero to a simple, yet functional CI/CD pipeline integrated with Jenkins, Github, Docker and Azure...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.