|By Michael Bushong||
|March 26, 2014 12:30 PM EDT||
The overall networking landscape has been going through a fairly deliberate shift over the past couple of years. Where we used to talk CapEx, we are now talking OpEx. Where we used to talk features, we are now talking about workflows. This change in industry dialogue mirrors the rise of trends like SDN and DevOps. I have been a huge fan of automation in general and DevOps in particular for many years now. But, as an industry, are we leaving people behind unintentionally?
When you think about the largest and most dynamic networks in the world (typically characterized as either service providers or web-scale companies), topics like automation are a no-brainer. The sheer number of devices in the networks that these companies manage demands something more than keying in changes manually. And for these types of companies, the network is not just an enabler – it is a central part of their business. Without the network, there is no business. It’s not terribly surprising that these companies hire small armies of capable engineers and developers to make everything function smoothly.
In these environments, automation is not a nice-to-have. It’s closer to food and water than it is to sports and entertainment. Accordingly, their interest in technologies that support automation is high. Their capability in putting automation tools to use is high. And if their abilities do not match their requirements, they open up their wallets to make sure they get there (think: OSS/BSS).
In networking, there is a prevailing belief that what is good for these complex environments will eventually make its way into smaller, less complex networks. It might take time, but the technologies and best practices that the most advanced companies employ, will eventually trickle down to everyone else. It’s sort of the networking equivalent of Reaganomics.
But is this necessarily true?
First, let me reiterate that I am a huge advocate for automation and DevOps. But these capabilities might not be universally required. Automation is most important in environments where either the volume or rate of change is high enough to justify the effort. If the network is relatively static, changing primarily to swap out old gear for new functionally equivalent gear, it might not be necessary to automate much at all. Or if network changes are tied to incremental growth, it might not make sense to automate the very much.
Automation enthusiasts (myself included) will likely react somewhat viscerally to the idea that automation isn’t necessary. “But even in these cases, automation is useful!” Certainly, it is useful. But what if your IT team lacks the expertise to automate all the things. What then? Sure, you can change the team up, but is it worth the effort?
And even if it is worth the effort, how far along the automation path will most companies need to go? It could be that simple shell scripts are more than enough to manage the rate of change for some companies. Full-blown DevOps would be like bringing a cruise missile to a water gun fight.
In saying this, I am not trying to suggest that automation or DevOps are not important. Rather, the tools we associate with these are just that: tools. They need to be applied thoughtfully and where it makes sense. Vendors that build these tools and then to try to push them too far down into the market will find that the demand for cruise missiles drops off pretty precipitously after the top-tier companies.
Even smaller-scale infrastructure does require workflow though. The trick is in packaging the tools so that they are right-sized for the problems they are addressing.
This obviously starts with discarding the notion that workflows are common across all sizes of networks. That is simply not true. The reason that there is pushback when people say that the future of network engineering is programming is that for many people, it is not yet a foregone conclusion that full-blown automation is worth the effort.
For these people, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.
The conclusion to draw here is not that automation is not a good thing. It’s that automation packaged as a complex DIY project isn’t always the right fit. Not everyone wants to do it themselves. At home, it turns out I am capable of repainting a room, but it just isn’t worth my time, so I hire a professional. In a network, people might be fully capable of automating policy provisioning and still find that it isn’t worth doing because policy for them just isn’t that complex.
What vendors ought to be doing is packaging their workflow optimizations in a way that is far easier to consume. Rather than building scaffolding around the network to handle management, it might make sense to make the management itself much more intuitive and more a core part of the way devices are architected.
This might sound like a brain dead statement, but consider that most networking devices are designed by people who do not run networks. And even worse, the workflows that dictate how things are used are frequently the last thing designed. If the mid-market and below are to get the advantages of the automation capabilities that the big guys are driving, vendors will need to design workflows explicitly for broad adoption.
If we really want to make the juice worth the squeeze, we need to make the squeeze a lot less painful. We need to move beyond automated networking closer to intuitive networking.
[Today’s fun fact: Lake Nicaragua boasts the only fresh water sharks in the entire world. I would be very motivated not to fall down while water skiing.]
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Sep. 2, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 219
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Sep. 2, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 474
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Sep. 2, 2015 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 598
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Sep. 2, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 694
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Sep. 1, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 396
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
Sep. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 444
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
Sep. 1, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 169
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Sep. 1, 2015 01:00 PM EDT
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Sep. 1, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 482
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Sep. 1, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 922
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Sep. 1, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 251
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Sep. 1, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 330
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Sep. 1, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 298
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Sep. 1, 2015 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 246
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
Sep. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EDT
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
Sep. 1, 2015 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 367
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Sep. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 171
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Sep. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 182
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts, GM of Platform at FinancialForce.com, will discuss the value of business applications on wearable ...
Sep. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EDT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Aug. 31, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 434