Welcome!

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Networking Strategy: Innovation and Adoption

Networking is a capabilities-driven industry

When we think about what’s next, our frame of reference is almost universally anchored to what we are doing now. We look at how things are, and then we aim our sights forward. In some cases, we might make incremental moves ahead; in other cases, maybe we look for improvement by orders of magnitude. But regardless of how far forward we reach, our starting point is where we are grounded today.

This creates an interesting dilemma in technology generally, and in networking especially.

Capabilities-driven
Networking is a capabilities-driven industry. We are constantly expanding what we can do with networks. In some cases, it might be how we handle complex policy, in others how we solve interesting traffic challenges. Whatever the problem, we have thus far been able to come up with some way to address it.

Some might read this and think: it’s not all capabilities! While it is true that the networking industry has spawned a number of efforts over the years aimed more at usability than capability, the inability to make a large business out of network management is a running joke. In fact, when we think of companies that have been very successful in creating useful products in the usability space, we probably think of companies that are a lot smaller than their tech justifies (Tail-f comes screaming to mind personally, but there are others).

So networking really is dominated by efforts around new capabilities.

But who invents these new capabilities?
Invention falls on the backs of the vendors. This is an obvious point. But what is the frame of reference from which the vendors build?

We all build from our current starting point. So as we evolve networking, we evolve it forward from our current base set of capabilities. There is nothing new in that statement, but consider this: what happens when an inventor’s ability to churn out new things outpaces a consumer’s ability to adopt it?

This is actually a dangerous state to be in. Useful innovation requires iteration. You need to come up with new ideas, prototype them, test them, collect feedback and iterate. But when new capabilities outpace the bulk of the market, two things happen: first, the capabilities go unused for the majority of consumers, and second, the lack of use inhibits the natural iterative process.

VMWare as an example
Let’s apply this to some specific industry examples. In using these examples, I don’t mean to judge the efficacy of any particular solution. Instead, I want to point out the strategic implications of this dynamic.

VMWare very famously pushed into the networking arena through the acquisition of Nicira a couple of years ago. With the acquisition and subsequent product launches, they effectively created the network virtualization space. They have built and shipped a product (NSX) that is the leader in this technology.

If you watch the technical dialogue around NSX, they have been building around their NSX beachhead. They talk about distributed firewalls now, and it won’t be long before they expand beyond that. They are clearly inventing quite rapidly, building lots of functionality that has the potential to be extremely useful.

Adoption, not innovation
But the issue that VMWare faces is certainly not related to their ability to innovate. Their primary struggle has to be with adoption.

When you create new categories of products, you sometimes address problems that people do not know they have. You build solutions that are beyond what a user’s current capabilities are, so the path from here to there is non-obvious.

Put slightly differently, while the frame of reference from which a vendor innovates is their product, the frame of reference from which a user grows is their deployment. In the same way that networking vendors naturally move forward incrementally, users will tend to make incremental architectural changes.

This means that product strategy has to include more than capabilities. It has to include migration as well. Migration is not just another way of calling out an insertion strategy. It really means that you have to strategize explicitly about how customers move from A to B. This means understanding what they perceive the transition to look like. What is their foundation? How does a shift impact things like training and process? How does a change intersect budgeting decisions? Do expanding capabilities muddy the approval chain as you bridge functional teams?

Understanding this, you can start to shape a strategy that extends beyond the product. Using the VMWare example again, the problems they are solving are tied to companies’ inability to manage their networks today. But they have built a dependence on the presence of a functional underlying network. If the underlying network is functional, then the problem they are addressing is less acute. But if the problem exists, then the architectural foundation is poorly suited for an easy transition.

In the latter case, the go-to-market strategy needs to consider the state of the foundation. It might make sense, for example, to then partner with vendors who make the underlying issues easier. Or perhaps you target accounts where there has been recent turnover at the CIO or VP of Infrastructure level, because that might indicate a change in architectural posture. If a company is already solving the foundational problems, you could potentially draft off that effort and solve the second problem of policy management for only incrementally more cost and effort.

Final thought
Whatever the path, the strategy has to reconcile that the vendor and user frames of reference are different. Adding even more innovation feels like the right thing to do (always be moving forward!), but does it widen the gap between vendor and customer to the point that transition is impossible?

Let me be clear here – I don’t actually think that NSX is necessarily at that state. I am really just trying to land the point that innovation ahead of adoption needs to be an explicit strategic discussion because it impacts how you eventually bring products to market. Again, the point is not about NSX but more about strategic consideration of the point from which users are building. If you think about innovation from a user’s perspective, you might alter your own strategies in perhaps unexpected ways.

As a final thought, as the industry continues down the SDN path, how should companies and open source organizations shape their offerings to ease adoption.

[Today’s fun fact: A hummingbird weighs less than a penny. I used to think I was like a hummingbird, but this ruins the comparison.]

The post Networking strategy: innovation and adoption appeared first on Plexxi.

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."

Latest Stories
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
Whether they’re located in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment, cloud technologies are constantly evolving. While the innovation is exciting, the end mission of delivering business value and rapidly producing incremental product features is paramount. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Kiran Chitturi, CTO Architect at Sungard AS, will discuss DevOps culture, its evolution of frameworks and technologies, and how it is achieving maturity. He will also cover various st...