|By Michael Bushong||
|June 30, 2014 06:00 AM EDT||
[This post was originally written for and published on The Rayno Report.]
Software Defined Networking (SDN) has quickly spawned what appears in some respects to be a cottage industry of would-be disruptors to the more traditional networking approaches. With hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital flowing into the space and dozens of infrastructure companies now vying to be the preeminent SDN vendor, how can anyone — customers or investors — predict who the breakout players will be?
SDN is a How, Not a What
The most basic thing that potential customers and investors need to understand is that SDN reflects how solutions work, not what their fundamental purpose is. Whether or not something is SDN is almost immaterial to the role that the device or solution plays. Indeed, most common networking problems can be solved with both legacy solutions and their SDN counterparts.
Think about SDN like the type of engine in a car. For most buyers, it’s a detail that gets weighed along with how much cargo space there is and how many cup holders are available. For others, the distinction between a V6 and a V8 is hugely important. But even in the latter case, the type of engine typically serves as a proxy for how much power or acceleration the car has. The real objective is not the engine but what the engine provides.
Because the industry is focused on how SDN applies to generalized networking, there has been an over-rotation towards a vague set of use cases. These use cases are broadly applicable, which has the benefit of positioning SDN in lots of places. However, because they lack specificity, they don’t constitute a plan that people can readily say “yes” to.
The result is that there are an awful lot of companies pitching generalized SDN solutions that fit everywhere and nowhere all at once. The fear this evokes on the buy side is one of forklift upgrades or rip-and-replace solutions. The buy-in required to authorize a total change in direction is huge. It goes well beyond just the technical buyer. To displace an entire vendor, you frequently have to get political air cover, sometimes from someone as high up as the CEO.
Small companies won’t generally have the clout to unseat an incumbent in this type of setting, barring a solution that is an order of magnitude faster, cheaper and more scalable.
Specialized Use Cases
If generalized networking isn’t going to be successful, then what will be? SDN deployments (especially those early on) will be focused on very narrow use cases. It might be a specific application (HP and Brocade have focused on Lync, for example) or may be a very specific deployment scenario (such as lighting dark fiber between buildings on a campus). The more specific the use case, the easier it is for potential buyers to say “yes.”
The challenge, of course, is that no one wants to narrow their target addressable market (TAM). When you are a startup seeking funding, claiming your target addressable market consists of all Ethernet switching makes it easy to put up a multi-billion-dollar opportunity. If you narrow that to only those deployments where dark fiber needs to be lit up between data centers, you shrink your TAM.
What is Success?
However, success in the business world is not measured by TAM. Zero percent of a massive TAM is still zero dollars. Startups need to get cash into the company early. Those early deployments are important because they force an iteration of the product and provide success stories and customer references from which to build. Without these wins, it is easier to make continual, even meaningful, progress without ever making any money.
So Who Will Break Out?
The companies that will break away from the SDN peloton are the ones who focus on getting deployments in the real world. A narrow set of use cases trumps a massive TAM in this case even if the former is a lot less sexy.
Customers and investors should ask questions about the overarching value proposition. If the answers are always framed in the general case, it is likely that the solution is aimed at the general networking space. And aiming at something so large is not that different than aiming at nothing at all.
Instead, vendors should ask questions about target customers. Is there a repeatable use case that has traction among multiple customers? Or is every deployment a snowflake, unique to the set of conditions that created it? Breakout success requires scaling the business, and scaling means making things repeatable.
Finally, the standard questions about customer references should be present. This is not because of the specific references so much as what they indicate. Vendors that can push past the analysis paralysis that so many SDN buyers are facing typically have a solution that is scoped narrowly enough to get a “yes.” That, more than anything perhaps, is an early indicator of success.
[Today's fun fact: The highest denomination of US currency is $100,000. If I had one, I would buy something off the dollar menu and ask for change.]
Announcing @Solgenia_Corp to Exhibit at @CloudExpo Silicon Valley | #IoT #M2M #API #Microservices #InternetOfThings
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dramatically improve produc...
Jul. 7, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,207
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Jul. 7, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,098
Live Webinar with 451 Research Analyst Peter Christy. Join us on Wednesday July 22, 2015, at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET In a world where users are on the Internet and the applications are in the cloud, how do you maintain your historic SLA with your users? Peter Christy, Research Director, Networks at 451 Research, will discuss this new network paradigm, one in which there is no LAN and no WAN, and discuss what users and network administrators gain and give up when migrating to the agile world of clo...
Jul. 7, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,756
In the midst of the widespread popularity and adoption of cloud computing, it seems like everything is being offered “as a Service” these days: Infrastructure? Check. Platform? You bet. Software? Absolutely. Toaster? It’s only a matter of time. With service providers positioning vastly differing offerings under a generic “cloud” umbrella, it’s all too easy to get confused about what’s actually being offered. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hazard, Director of Digital Content for SoftL...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,554
[slides] Moving to Connected Marketplaces with @Ericsson | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #API #InternetOfThings
Connected things, systems and people can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other that result in new service possibilities. By taking a look at the impact of Internet of Things when it transitions to a highly connected services marketplace we can understand how connecting the right “things” and leveraging the right partners can provide enormous impact to your business’ growth and success. In her general session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,632
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 7, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,868
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding bu...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,923
[video] Infrastructure as a Toolbox By @SoftLayer at @CloudExpo New York | #IoT #API #Containers #Microservices
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry. Resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, broke down what we've got to work with and discuss the benefits and pitfalls to discover how we can best use them to d...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,207
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the ...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,952
In their general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Michael Piccininni, Global Account Manager - Cloud SP at EMC Corporation, and Mike Dietze, Regional Director at Windstream Hosted Solutions, reviewed next generation cloud services, including the Windstream-EMC Tier Storage solutions, and discussed how to increase efficiencies, improve service delivery and enhance corporate cloud solution development. Michael Piccininni is Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation. He has been engaged in t...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,406
SYS-CON Media announced today that CloudBees, the Jenkins Enterprise company, has launched ad campaigns on SYS-CON's DevOps Journal. CloudBees' campaigns focus on the business value of Continuous Delivery and how it has been recognized as a game changer for IT and is now a top priority for organizations, and the best ways to optimize Jenkins to ensure your continuous integration environment is optimally configured.
Jul. 7, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,364
The most often asked question post-DevOps introduction is: “How do I get started?” There’s plenty of information on why DevOps is valid and important, but many managers still struggle with simple basics for how to initiate a DevOps program in their business. They struggle with issues related to current organizational inertia, the lack of experience on Continuous Integration/Delivery, understanding where DevOps will affect revenue and budget, etc. In their session at DevOps Summit, JP Morgenthal...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,658
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in 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 and the leading in...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,622
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of pro...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,972
Kintone Named "Bronze Sponsor" in Silicon Valley | @CloudExpo @Kintone_Global #IoT #M2M #API #Microservices #InternetOfThings
SYS-CON Events announced today that kintone has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. 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.
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,223
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Jul. 7, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,921
"We provide a web application framework for building really sophisticated web applications that run on a browser without any installation need so we get used for biotech, defense, and banking applications," noted Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit (http://DevOpsSummit.SYS-CON.com), held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York
Jul. 7, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,842
"We have been in business for 21 years and have been building many enterprise solutions, all IT plumbing - server, storage, interconnects," stated Alex Gorbachev, President of Intelligent Systems Services, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 7, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 505
[video] The Stories We Tell By @CenturyLinkCld at @CloudExpo New York | #IoT #API #DevOps #Microservices
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jul. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,479
[session] Dark Art of Container Monitoring By @Sysdig | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Docker #Containers #Microservices
Containers are revolutionizing the way we deploy and maintain our infrastructures, but monitoring and troubleshooting in a containerized environment can still be painful and impractical. Understanding even basic resource usage is difficult – let alone tracking network connections or malicious activity. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gianluca Borello, Sr. Software Engineer at Sysdig, will cover the current state of the art for container monitoring and visibility, including pros / cons and liv...
Jul. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,150