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
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
"Software-defined storage is a big problem in this industry because so many people have different definitions as they see fit to use it," stated Peter McCallum, VP of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Actian Corporation has announced the latest version of the Actian Vector in Hadoop (VectorH) database, generally available at the end of July. VectorH is based on the same query engine that powers Actian Vector, which recently doubled the TPC-H benchmark record for non-clustered systems at the 3000GB scale factor (see tpc.org/3323). The ability to easily ingest information from different data sources and rapidly develop queries to make better business decisions is becoming increasingly importan...
StackIQ has announced the release of Stacki 3.2. Stacki is an easy-to-use Linux server provisioning tool. Stacki 3.2 delivers new capabilities that simplify the automation and integration of site-specific requirements. StackIQ is the commercial entity behind this open source bare metal provisioning tool. Since the release of Stacki in June of 2015, the Stacki core team has been focused on making the Community Edition meet the needs of members of the community, adding features and value, while ...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) has announced that NoviFlow Inc.has deployed IxNetwork® to validate the company’s designs and accelerate the delivery of its proven, reliable products. Based in Montréal, NoviFlow Inc. supports network carriers, hyperscale data center operators, and enterprises seeking greater network control and flexibility, network scalability, and the capacity to handle extremely large numbers of flows, while maintaining maximum network performance. To meet these requirements, NoviFlow in...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
The competitive landscape of the global cloud computing market in the healthcare industry is crowded due to the presence of a large number of players. The large number of participants has led to the fragmented nature of the market. Some of the major players operating in the global cloud computing market in the healthcare industry are Cisco Systems Inc., Carestream Health Inc., Carecloud Corp., AGFA Healthcare, IBM Corp., Cleardata Networks, Merge Healthcare Inc., Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., an...
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
Continuous testing helps bridge the gap between developing quickly and maintaining high quality products. But to implement continuous testing, CTOs must take a strategic approach to building a testing infrastructure and toolset that empowers their team to move fast. Download our guide to laying the groundwork for a scalable continuous testing strategy.
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.