|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.]
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, 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 enterprises a...
May. 28, 2015 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,775
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies.
May. 28, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,402
SYS-CON Events announced today that SUSE, a pioneer in open source software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SUSE provides reliable, interoperable Linux, cloud infrastructure and storage solutions that give enterprises greater control and flexibility. More than 20 years of engineering excellence, exceptional service and an unrivaled partner ecosystem power the products and support that help ...
May. 28, 2015 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 865
Move from reactive to proactive cloud management in a heterogeneous cloud infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Manoj Khabe, Innovative Solution-Focused Transformation Leader at Vicom Computer Services, Inc., will show how to replace a help desk-centric approach with an ITIL-based service model and service-centric CMDB that’s tightly integrated with an event and incident management platform. Learn how to expand the scope of operations management to service management. He will al...
May. 28, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,061
There's no doubt that the Internet of Things is driving the next wave of innovation. Google has spent billions over the past few months vacuuming up companies that specialize in smart appliances and machine learning. Already, Philips light bulbs, Audi automobiles, and Samsung washers and dryers can communicate with and be controlled from mobile devices. To take advantage of the opportunities the Internet of Things brings to your business, you'll want to start preparing now.
May. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,145
In a world of ever-accelerating business cycles and fast-changing client expectations, the cloud increasingly serves as a growth engine and a path to new business models. Dynamic clouds enable businesses to continuously reinvent themselves, adapting their business processes, their service and software delivery and their operations to achieve speed-to-market and quick response to customer feedback. As the cloud evolves, the industry has multiple competing cloud technologies, offering on-premises ...
May. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,416
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, Netflix and so on is at the heart of CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
May. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,160
T-Mobile has been transforming the wireless industry with its “Uncarrier” initiatives. Today as T-Mobile’s IT organization works to transform itself in a like manner, technical foundations built over the last couple of years are now key to their drive for more Agile delivery practices. In his session at DevOps Summit, Martin Krienke, Sr Development Manager at T-Mobile, will discuss where they started their Continuous Delivery journey, where they are today, and where they are going in an effort ...
May. 28, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,362
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
May. 28, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,660
There is no question that the cloud is where businesses want to host data. Until recently hypervisor virtualization was the most widely used method in cloud computing. Recently virtual containers have been gaining in popularity, and for good reason. In the debate between virtual machines and containers, the latter have been seen as the new kid on the block – and like other emerging technology have had some initial shortcomings. However, the container space has evolved drastically since coming on...
May. 28, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,269
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
May. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,877
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
May. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,718
The web app is Agile. The REST API is Agile. The testing and planning are Agile. But alas, Data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes which force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software orga...
May. 28, 2015 02:56 PM EDT Reads: 827
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 Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
May. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,290
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
May. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,435
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
May. 28, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,236
CA Technologies has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Rally Software Development Corp. for $19.50 per share, which equates to approximately $480 million, net of cash acquired. The transaction has been unanimously approved by both Boards of Directors, and is expected to close in the second quarter of CA’s fiscal 2016. Based in Boulder, CO, Rally has approximately 500 employees across four continents and FY 2015 sales of $88 million. “Software applications are changing the...
May. 28, 2015 01:04 PM EDT Reads: 813
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
May. 28, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,657
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
May. 28, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,663
The OpenStack cloud operating system includes Trove, a database abstraction layer. Rather than applications connecting directly to a specific type of database, they connect to Trove, which in turn connects to one or more specific databases. One target database is Postgres Plus Cloud Database, which includes its own RESTful API. Trove was originally developed around MySQL, whose interfaces are significantly less complicated than those of the Postgres cloud database. In his session at 16th Cloud...
May. 28, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,057