|By Michael Bushong||
|April 30, 2014 02:15 PM EDT||
There’s a running meme in networking that has caught a lot of momentum with SDN: abstraction. Just about every vendor these days has bold ambitions to abstract out the complexity. There are APIs, abstraction layers, and architectural shims that all aim to hide complexity from the user. But what does that really mean?
The primary goal of abstraction is to break something down into its most essential elements. You then expose only those parts that require end-user participation (think: configuration knobs, for example). Ideally, a small set of relatively well-understood parameters can then move the mass of hulking machinery underneath. The complexity? It is hidden, cleverly abstracted away from the user.
This leads to an interesting question: which bits need to be exposed to the end user?
The question seems innocuous enough. But the answer depends an awful lot on your context.
Networking has long been a management-through-precision proposition. That is to say that network behavior is determined by correctly setting a bunch of configuration knobs. The problem is at its absolute most horrible when specifying edge policy. So acute is our collective need for control that we have developed entire businesses around merely demonstrating proficiency in the knobs themselves.
The subtle point about abstraction is that by reducing networking to only the most critical characteristics, you are actually taking away some of the power from a user base that has defined their careers by their knowledge of said details. On the other extreme, you have an entire class of companies for whom the network is just not that interesting. At the limit, these companies simply want the network to work. That this currently requires an army of specialists with total command over thousands of widgets is more necessary evil than desired outcome.
So what do we do?
In some ways, we need to fight our own instincts. Our need for absolute control is our own doing. We have taken a largely incremental approach to networking for more than a couple of decades now. We have layered functionality on top of functionality, using configuration to incrementally enable each piece. The thought of things working across the whole of the network is a scary proposition, so we have grown accustomed to piecemeal deployments. And change has become so difficult that you don’t dare do anything unless you absolutely have to.
But despite all of this, where are we headed now?
We want to code our way out of the problem. We want to add another complex system on top of an already complex—and crumbling—system. Consider that SDN is largely an organic reaction to the failure of vendors to make networks that are manageable. Building another management layer on top of the existing failed infrastructure might hide the complexity, but it doesn’t remove the source of the underlying infrastructure rot. Without cutting away that rot, we are really just punting the problem into the future.
None of this is meant to suggest that APIs and programmability are not important. For a certain class of user, they are extremely powerful. But not every user has or event wants the kind of sophistication that goes with this type of approach. And fewer still have a solid enough foundation from which to build.
How do I know? We celebrate programmability while swapping stories of companies relying on screen scraping. How is that latter class of networking professionals going to make the leap?
The answer is actually simple: they won’t.
This creates an interesting market dynamic. The number of companies who are actively pushing the envelope is relatively small. Sure, there are lots of people who are constantly evaluating new technologies, but if you measure actual deployments, the business tilts heavily to the less sexy, less risky networks of yesteryear. For every SDN trial that nets a couple of devices in some deal and generates a snazzy press release, there is a pile of uncontested deals that get closed with the incumbent vendors.
Why? Because things barely work the way they are, and adding more capability on top of existing stuff isn’t actually the need for most people.
There is an enormous opportunity for companies that provide a solution to the underlying infrastructure rot. The billions of dollars spent on networks that users wish they could just ignore are mostly in play. The vendors pursuing those dollars need to make sure they keep their eye on the ball. The shiny object that is abstraction and programmability will undoubtedly be important, but pursuing that at the expense of fixing the underlying network is chasing an opportunity that might very well forever be just on the horizon. Over time, the obvious end game here is that both things needs to happen. Abstraction and underlying correction are both required.
While it might be the CTOs and CIOs at the largest enterprises and carriers that drive overarching requirements, the middle and lower tiers of the market consume an awful lot. Interestingly enough, that business is somehow lost in all the noise. To make a difference here, networking doesn’t need to be more abstract; it just needs to be a whole lot more instinctive.
[Today’s fun fact: 100% of all lottery winners gain weight. Seriously, how does anyone know this is a fact?]
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 364
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 314
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Nov. 24, 2015 05:30 PM EST Reads: 136
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 459
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 133
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
Nov. 24, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 506
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
Nov. 24, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 403
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Nov. 24, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 257
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Nov. 24, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 416
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 334
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 487
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:30 PM EST Reads: 480
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. ...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:15 PM EST Reads: 478
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
Nov. 24, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 491
SYS-CON Events announced today that Kintone has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 564
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Nov. 24, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 332
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
Nov. 24, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 349
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.
Nov. 24, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 258
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
Nov. 24, 2015 06:45 AM EST Reads: 335