Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Harry Trott, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Stackify Blog, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

The Coming Network Evolution: Cisco Gets It, Do You?

As Microsoft, Google, Amazon build up steam in the cloud they're creating demands for even more powerful & intelligent networks

Greg Ness's Blog

I think it is only a matter of time before ALL of the leading networking players start talking about the (strategic importance of the) network as a way to succeed in an uncertain economic climate. Last week, in "Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies" I talked about the increasingly intense pressures already building on static network infrastructure, and the underlying need for more intelligence and automation.

I think the new survival mantra for the coming economic weakness will be "He (or she) who automates wins." As the industrial age emerged from the agricultural age, and as it blends with the computer age, innovation has been driven by the ability of visionaries to boost productivity through automation and connectivity.

I just watched Cisco's John Chambers "Can IT Strengthen the Economy?" interview at the recent Gartner conference just released. Chambers clearly sees innovation as the way out. The network is strategic to business productivity. Flexibility, speed and scale are becoming even more important. That means dynamic connectivity and intelligence will become even more strategic to the network.

I think Chambers gets it and is reminding his customers that strategic innovation will trump mere cost-cutting in a period of economic uncertainty. Those who emerge will emerge even more powerful because they will have avoided the temptation to make the network tactical with the long term vision of shifting it to the cloud ala Nicholas Carr's vision of utility computing.

I think it is only a matter of time before ALL of the leading networking players start talking about the (strategic importance of the) network as a way to succeed in an uncertain economic climate. Last week, in Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies I talked about the increasingly intense pressures already building on static network infrastructure, and the underlying need for more intelligence and automation.

These intense pressures are setting the stage for the next technology boom, by creating gaps between what networks can do today and what they'll need to do tomorrow. I was amazed at how quickly the concept of Infratsructure2.0 spread, including an interesting discussion at F5 Network's pace-setting DevCentral blog.

These pressures are coming from increasing rates of change, especially in larger networks supporting more devices and branches and processes, as well as with the introduction of consolidation, virtualization and cloud computing initiatives. These new initiatives are introducing even higher rates of change and making it clear that a static network will no longer be a strategic network.

As Nicholas Carr debates with Tim O'Reilly about the form cloud will take a few nuggets emerge:

"But the cloud platform, like the software platform before it, has new rules for competitive advantage. And chief among those advantages are those that we've identified as "Web 2.0", the design of systems that harness network effects to get better the more people use them."

- Tim O'Reilly "Web2.0 and Cloud Computing, October 2008

As Nicholas correctly challenges the role of "network effects" he then engages a fallacy that I think is the core of his misperception of the role of network infrastructure within IT. That is, his electric utility as IT metaphor leads him down a path that is well-trodden from a hype perspective, but not yet enterprise-grade. He talks about economies of scale in IT that can contribute to which cloud players win or lose:

1. Capital intensity. Building a large utility computing system requires lots of capital, which itself presents a big barrier to entry.

2. Scale advantages. As O'Reilly himself notes, big players reap important scale economies in equipment, labor, real estate, electricity, and other inputs.

3. Diversity factor. One of the big advantages that accrue to utilities is their ability to make demand flatter and more predictable (by serving a diverse group of customers with varying demand patterns), which in turn allows them to use their capital more efficiently. As your customer base expands, so does your diversity factor and hence your efficiency advantage and your ability to undercut your less-efficient competitors' prices.

- Nicholas Carr, "What Time O'Reilly gets wrong about the cloud", October 2008

In Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies I talked about the prevalence of manual labor in critical IT processes, from IP address management to servers that lead to substantial scale and complexity challenges. Exactly where are the advantages if the costs of simple tasks per IP address go up (on a per IP address basis) as networks get larger? Here's what I wrote:

"As much as cloud computing has rallied behind the prospect of electricity and real estate savings, the business case still feels like a dotcom hangover in some cases. Virtualization is still a bit hamstrung in the enterprise by the disconnect between static infrastructure and moving, state-changing VMs; and labor is the largest cost component of server TCO (IDC findings) and a significant component of network TCO (as suggested by the Computerworld findings). So just how much will real estate and electricity savings offset other diseconomies and barriers in the cloud game? I think cloud computing will also have to innovate in areas like automation and connectivity intelligence."

I think that rising complexity and scale challenges driven by various initiatives (including cloud computing) will force static networks to evolve into dynamic networks. That is the only way that scale and complexity can be addressed, and I think that is the core of Carr's challenge to enterprise IT. Dynamic networks would create a new level of automation potential and reduce the sheer amount of resources dedicated to connectivity and change, which will only go up as endpoints and systems become more mobile and more dynamic.

[Thanks to Rick Kagan and Stu Bailey at Infoblox for the above image]

Across several recent articles at Archimedius I've talked about the increasingly costly demands of manual labor on IT, including IP address management, DNS, DHCP and a host of other core network services. I've talked about the importance of reachability and connectivity intelligence within the network so that solutions can learn and adapt to these new fluid systems and more powerful endpoints.

Recent Computerworld and IDC research was also cited in , my lengthy tome predicting the shrinking role of manual labor in IT. I noted larger enterprises paying more for mundane, boring tasks like managing IP addresses by spreadsheet, even on a cost per IP address basis.Cloud Computing, Virtualization and IT Diseconomies

I'll also go so far as to suggest who the leaders are in each required category, from endpoint intelligence (Microsoft), to network intelligence (Cisco) to application intelligence (F5 Networks). I inserted Infoblox as the leader in connectivity intelligence, which I see as this emerging dynamic feedback loop between systems, endpoints and networks now overly dependent upon manual labor to address rising flexibility and scale demands. (Disclaimer: I work for Infoblox).

That's one of the reasons I was so encouraged by the recent discussion at F5's DevCentral community. Here is the post if you're interested in more.


Managing a heterogeneous infrastructure is difficult enough, but managing a dynamic, ever changing heterogeneous infrastructure that must be stable enough to deliver dynamic applications makes the former look like a walk in the park. Part of the problem is certainly the inability to manage heterogeneous network infrastructure devices from a single management system.

- Lori MacVittie, F5 DevCentral

Who knows if standards could ever emerge between the likes of Cisco, Juniper, Brocade, Riverbed and F5 Networks. Lorie is quick to point out that they have worked in the past, as with WS-I (which included Microsoft and Oracle, among others). A very interesting standard I mentioned previously is IF-MAP from the Trusted Computing Group, which includes ArcSight, Aruba, Infoblox and Juniper, among others.


As the Mind requires a Nervous System; Network Intelligence requires Connectivity Intelligence

Yet I think standards will only be part of the solution, even if they are adopted. I think the critical requirement for Infrastructure2.0 will be connectivity intelligence. TCP/IP has now outgrown its static shell and is about to be tasked with connecting even more powerful and dynamic systems. Whether it's the rise of RFID in supply chain, mobility ala Google's Android, or even the adoption of parking meters with their own IP addresses, it is clear that TCP/IP is spreading with or without a strong economy and the most productive enterprises will be the most likely to survive.

The manual labor that has driven IP address management costs higher as networks grow larger is similarly impacting other core network services (like DNS and DHCP) that were not created to support such complex arrays of devices, branches and systems. This is the broader opportunity for Juniper, Brocade and others as well, not only to reduce network infrastructure TCO but to address the new level of flexibility enabled by virtualization and other initiatives driving new scale and flexibility requirements.

Enterprises are now on the battlefield between two competing forces, the rapid proliferation of TCP/IP and the increasingly dynamic and powerful systems and endpoints attaching to the network in order to boost productivity. Those who succeed will have invested in automation based on dynamic feedback between devices and systems and the rise in network intelligence.

Gone will be manual spreadsheets tracking IP addresses across large and ever-changing extended enterprise networks. Gone will be endless hours of overtime tied up in mundane and resource-consuming tasks. Gone will be manual pings to determine whether a network is available or secure or not.

This is the next technology boom, the era of Infratsructure2.0. Cisco is already on message. F5 is getting there and I think it is only a matter of time before the marketers at the world's leading technology companies realize that the war is on, and all of the old alliances that enabled exclusivity and lock-in and layers of manual labor are off the table.

Out of this coming weakness will emerge new strength, possibilities and profits. As Microsoft, Google, Amazon build up steam in the cloud they are creating demands for even more powerful and intelligent networks. Enterprises who see the network as tactical will take the brunt of the pain from a weak economy; those who embrace automation will be the fastest to return to normal and ultimately establish and or maintain operational leadership.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Greg Ness is a Silicon Valley marketing veteran with background in networking, security, virtualization and cloud computing. He is VP Marketing at CloudVelocity. Formerly at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox, Blue Lane Technologies, Juniper Networks, Redline Networks, McAfee, IntruVerofficer at Networks and ShoreTel. He is one of the world's top cloud bloggers.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Cloud adoption is often driven by a desire to increase efficiency, boost agility and save money. All too often, however, the reality involves unpredictable cost spikes and lack of oversight due to resource limitations. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO and Founder of CloudHealth Technologies, tackled the question: “How do you build a fully optimized cloud?” He will examine: Why TCO is critical to achieving cloud success – and why attendees should be thinking holistically ab...
As more and more companies are making the shift from on-premises to public cloud, the standard approach to DevOps is evolving. From encryption, compliance and regulations like GDPR, security in the cloud has become a hot topic. Many DevOps-focused companies have hired dedicated staff to fulfill these requirements, often creating further siloes, complexity and cost. This session aims to highlight existing DevOps cultural approaches, tooling and how security can be wrapped in every facet of the bu...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, will introduce two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a...
yperConvergence came to market with the objective of being simple, flexible and to help drive down operating expenses. It reduced the footprint by bundling the compute/storage/network into one box. This brought a new set of challenges as the HyperConverged vendors are very focused on their own proprietary building blocks. If you want to scale in a certain way, let’s say you identified a need for more storage and want to add a device that is not sold by the HyperConverged vendor, forget about it....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo is an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalized support service from its globally located cloud platform...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Elastifile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS) is software-defined data infrastructure designed for seamless and efficient management of dynamic workloads across heterogeneous environments. Elastifile provides the architecture needed to optimize your hybrid cloud environment, by facilitating efficient...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Launched in 2016, Cloudistics helps anyone bring the power of the cloud to the data center in an easy-to-use, on- premises cloud platform that automatically provides high performance resources for all types of applications: Docke...
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Golden Gate University will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 1901, non-profit Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing high quality, practice-based undergraduate and graduate educational programs in law, taxation, business and related professions. Many of its courses are taug...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, will address this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of t...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-security...