Posts Tagged Cisco
It is Wikibon’s belief that the trends put forth by hyperscale companies are starting to push into the enterprise to create a software-led datacenter. While SDN fits into this trend, there is an even greater opportunity to truly transform the way that the network is managed and potentially disrupt the current industry structure, which is dominated by Cisco. While customers may complain about high prices, networking has traditionally been bought on risk-avoidance and changing vendors can cause a lot of angst and internal resistance. Cisco has done a great job of keeping up with customer requirements over the last 15 years and despite industry consolidation – both acquisition and challengers in the channel – has managed to maintain a long lead, especially in L2/L3 switching. There are rumors that Cisco’s latest spin-in – Insieme Networks – will make some announcements at Cisco Live next week. Whether that happens or not, with Cumulus Networks coming out of stealth today, let’s take a look at some competing visions for where networking is heading.
Software Defined Networking (SDN) dominates networking industry conversation today. The $1B+ acquisition of Nicira by VMware got everyone’s attention. Big Switch also received good buzz at the launch of its open ecosystem. While it is Wikibon’s advice that enterprise CIOs shouldn’t wait for the market to mature more before trying to jump into an SDN solution, one of the underpinnings of future solutions is available today. OpenFlow (which is only a piece of the SDN story) requires a controller and OpenFlow enabled switches. According to the SDN Central website, the following vendors are currently shipping OpenFlow-enabled switches:
One application that impacts the design of Data Center Ethernet Fabrics is Big Data. Hadoop runs on a shared-nothing architecture, defined as a collection of independent, possibly virtual, machines, each with local disk and local main memory, connected together on a high-speed network. This means that storage is DAS, not SAN (even from EMC’s Greenplum solutions – as discussed towards the end of this video). Even with storage out of the mix, there are special networking architectural considerations for big data environments like Hadoop. The Wikibon and SiliconAngle teams had full coverage of Hadoop World 2011, including discussions of networking with Cisco and Arista Networks.
Over a year ago, I posed the question, “Does 10Gb Ethernet change the Competitive landscape?” Cisco has been the dominant player in networking, for over a decade no competitor ever captured even ten percent of the market. While Ethernet is continuing its march into new markets and new applications, the market landscape has definitely changed. Fresh off of VMworld, there is a buzz in the networking world around new opportunities and architectures.
The Big Trends
With VMworld beginning in Las Vegas this week, we are sure to hear all about new and innovative ways to expand your organization’s approach to cloud computing. “Project Horizon” was previewed at last year’s VMworld, a cloud-based management service that aims to establish a users cloud identity. With Project Horizon and the seemingly thousands of other cloud projects occurring, the demand for massive data centers is on the rise. As their need continues to grow, the immense power they use has become so much of an issue that metrics were created to measure how efficient data centers are. One of these metrics is Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), a ratio of total amount of power used by the facility to the power delivered to computing equipment. An ideal PUE is 1.0, which would mean the computing equipment is using all of the power coming into the facility. However, a PUE of 1.0 is very difficult to achieve due to the need for lighting, cooling, and other various systems used in the facilities that are not considered computing devices. An additional way companies are trying to reduce cost and power consumption is by building modular data centers. The modular data center approach adds capacity as it is needed in manageable, cost-effective increments. Below you will see five traditional data centers that use alternative energy as a power source, as well as a brief look at currently available modular data centers.
Over 18 months ago, when EMC and Cisco created a joint venture (with some involvement from VMware and Intel), there was talk of hardware (the Vblock which includes Cisco’s then new UCS server), management software and even the joint support; but the purpose of the endeavor was to deliver new ITaaS solutions for both enterprises and service providers. Over the first year, there were a number of changes made to the business model, switching from what was essentially a reference model that could be assembled by VARs and SIs to single-SKU offerings that would be shipped from The VCE Company. A services option, “Acadia”, that would build, operate and transfer the solution was dropped, reducing potential competitive friction with service providers who are a primary customer base. Now at over 900 employees, the significant investment in the VCE model has come under question by some. The investments by EMC and Cisco in VCE are a bet on the future of IT that is high stakes/high return. This is not a little 3-month project, but a strategic move to pivot toward the next transformation of IT that will deliver billions of dollars of hardware and services.
After a blockbuster year of storage acquisitions in 2010 with over $1B spent each on 3PAR, Isilon, Compellent, many have predicted that 2011 would be the year of networking acquisitions. Many look at Cisco’s entrance into the server business as having a ripple effect of server vendors expanding into the networking space, most notably with HP’s acquisition of 3COM and to a lesser extent IBM’s BNT purchase. This week, Intel signed an agreement to acquire merchant silicon vendor Fulcrum Microsystems and Dell announced the intent to acquire networking equipment vendor Force10. While financial terms have not been disclosed, both of these deals are estimated to be in the hundreds of $Ms and complement existing portfolios rather than changes in market direction or severing of existing partnerships.
Optimism was abundant at Interop in Las Vegas this week. Attendance and energy was up from the more economically subdued shows of the last two years. While I only got to spin through the event for a few hours, I did get to talk to a bunch of the companies and bloggers at the show. While cloud (and the fabric networking that enable scalable architectures) may have been the big theme, but the undertone in the networking space was attacking Cisco while they are believed to be vulnerable due to some soft financial results and restructuring.
This week in Las Vegas, just about every networking vendor will release one of more press releases at Interop telling you about all of the latest and greatest products and technologies. Even for those that watch the industry closely, it can be difficult to squint through the details to figure out the differentiation between the product lines. From a size, density, power and performance standpoint, vendors leapfrog each other all of the time from one generation to the next. Thanks to the big trends of virtualization, cloud computing and the transition to higher speed architectures (10Gb Ethernet getting broad traction and 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet products now starting to go into production environments), there are real areas to differentiate.
The storage industry is notoriously slow at adopting change. So, how does the storage industry continue to innovate while not failing on the mission of storing, protecting and extracting value from data? In my last post, I looked at how server and desktop virtualization are forcing functions for evolving the role of the storage administrator. Convergence solutions (both network and full stack solutions) are blurring the lines between the silos and moving many IT practitioners towards the role of an IT generalist. This transition will better management tools, training and a desire for companies to change.