Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Daniel Gordon, John Walsh, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sven Olav Lund

Blog Feed Post

Network cost and complexity: As simple as changing the y-intercept?

In a previous post, I wrote about the incremental nature of innovation, particularly in the networking space. My point was that innovation (both from a product and a deployment perspective) occurs from a frame of reference. Understanding that foundation is critical to determining strategies, especially around go-to-market and adoption.

From a network user perspective, the incremental nature of architectural evolution means that users are far more likely to adopt something that they can identify with. To the extent that new capabilities can be framed up relative to existing deployments, migrations are easier. This is actually a healthy dynamic as it creates a bit of architectural longevity. Indeed, it would be incredibly difficult to operate in an environment that is perpetually in flux.

What triggers architectural change?

But architectural changes do happen. Understanding why can be helpful in planning for them, and ultimately for evaluating what to migrate to.

I’ll make the assertion here that cost and complexity are at least correlated (if not causal). As complexity increases, the cost of managing that complexity also increases. Complexity drivers can be as simple as the number of devices in a deployment, the ease with which those devices are connected, or even the sophistication required to perform activities like traffic engineering. Whatever the cause of complexity, as it goes up, there is a correlated increase in effort (time or money).

The appetite for making architectural changes gradually increases until either the cost or the complexity threshold is exceeded. Once either the economics or the ease of use (frequently seen as service agility) limits are reached, it is generally time for a new approach.

It’s easy to pick on Cisco in the cost and complexity game. Their legacy platforms have gone through years of development abuse. Piling on feature after feature ultimately results in a chassis bursting at the seams because of software that has grown increasingly bloated over time. The sheer number of lines of code in their legacy software makes it unwieldy at best.

Cisco would probably even agree with this characterization (unless you ask a sales guy about to close you on an aging platform). This is why they have spawned new product lines over time, based on new supporting infrastructure. It’s all quite natural really.

Increasing cost and complexity creates opportunity

If we look at what Arista did several years ago, we can see the impact of shedding the extra weight of an aging product. By being aggressive in pursuing merchant silicon, they shed a big contributor to their own complexity, which allowed them to drop prices quite a bit. Then they started clean with their software, EOS. It is much easier (both cheaper and faster) to build products unencumbered by backward compatibility requirements for features that border on prehistoric.

The drop in complexity brought an immediate reduction in cost (both capital and operational). For users who had hit either the cost or the complexity barriers, deciding on a new platform could be relatively easy.

trajectory

But fundamentally, is the slope of the cost-complexity line any different?

The most interesting question for network architects and operators to consider is not whether or not a solution is lower on the cost-complexity line but rather is the slope of that line any different? If after incurring the expense and effort of an architectural transition you are fundamentally on the same line, all you have really done is change the y-intercept. This is akin to kicking the can down the road. You will still reach the same cost-complexity threshold, at which time you will need to make the same transition. Only this second transition will be more expensive because it will be at higher scale, which will push upward both the effort and the impact.

The goal ought to be to extend the life of the architecture, preserving your investments in training, process, tools, and integrations. But for this to happen, you need to look beyond just the y-intercept. If a solution looks and feels the same as its predecessor, is the slope of the line really different?

This creates an interesting strategic dynamic. Adoption is easiest when things are equivalent. But value will be greatest when there is real innovation. As a vendor, how do you strike the right balance between the two? Lean too much on the first, and you get disrupted by everything around you (Arista leaning on price and then having white box switching come along, for example). Lean too much on the second, and you might see slow adoption (SDN anyone?).

It’s impossible to strike a perfect balance, so where do you lean?

What to look for

Architects and operators should ask this question to see what kinds of answers come back. An honest answer should lead to follow-on questions. If the solution is largely the same as the incumbent, what are you doing about changing the slope of the line? If the solution is different, what are you doing to ease migration?

An honest dialogue around these topics can be difficult in sales settings, but it is absolutely essential if you want to do something more than just changing the y-intercept.

[Today’s fun fact: Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil. You would think honey badgers would be a little less ornery.]

The post Network cost and complexity: As simple as changing the y-intercept? 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
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, 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.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
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...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
"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...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...