I spent a few years on the buy side at long/short technology focused hedge fund. I learned a lot over that time. I feel confident in saying it was the career stop in which I learned the most. I was being paid to obtain a synthetic MBA as well as learn how to build and run a portfolio. Over that time, I developed a lot of business friendships with many people smarter than me on the buy side and the sell side. Almost a decade later, I still regularly engage with analysts, PMs and strategists. It is rare for a business day to go by without a conversation of some type with a former colleague in the investment business. I still like to think that most of the sell side analysts in the networking, hardware, cloud and telecom sectors would take my call. With that said I have been riding the market wave, but I am conflicted with what I used to know and what I see today. In my tech career I always found selling in the transition space between a maturing market and an emerging market to be the most interesting and dynamic space to be in. I am beginning to think the equity markets are moving into a transition space.
My last day at HPE was about two weeks ago. I think of it as more of my last day at Plexxi — rather than my last day at HPE. I spent from January 2, 2012 to June 26, 2020 at Plexxi/HPE. I recently was chatting with one of the early Plexxi employees about the company. 2012, 2013 and even 2014 seem like a long time ago.
There was a time in my life that I went to a lot of tech conferences. The years 2010-2016 were pretty busy for me in terms of conferences, booths, speaking, attending, etc. For the most part, I have very little interest in these events. I think they are a huge waste of time outside of the socializing. This week I took a half day on a Friday to attend the New England Peering Forum in Cambridge MA. This was a small conference, with an interesting talk track and being local, I thought I would try it as the worse case outcome was I would leave early and start the weekend.
As add-on to my recent post on naval warfare, there were some recent developments, which only further enhance the thesis of China and the US moving towards a sorting out of affairs in the Pacific theater. On July 24 Reuters reported the “…U.S. military said…it sent a Navy warship through the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from China, a move likely to anger China during a period of tense relations between Washington and Beijing.”
The temperature felt like 106 degrees Fahrenheit. The dew point was in the upper 70s, a brutal end to a long hot day. In the early evening I was sitting on the lawn of the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln Massachusetts. We were there to see Doug Aiken’s New Horizon Balloon Project. As we waited in the mind numbing heat and humidity for sunset and the balloon light show to begin, there were a series of speakers and musicians and the theme for the event that night was “The Future of Information: Conversation with Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review. Confronted with fake news and information bubbles, how do traditional media companies become platforms for communities to address the challenges society faces in a more equitable and inclusive manner?”
It seems with each passing week, more examples of the changing structure of technology companies emerge. Just before the workday closed on the east coast of the US, the following headline was splashed across the Wall Street Journal “Apple in Advanced Talks to Buy Intel’s Smartphone-Modem Chip Business.” The ultimate “Platform Company” from the 2000s is adding to their arsenal of chip IP and chip development teams.
This morning Cisco Systems announced the acquisition of Acacia Communications (ACIA) for $2.6B in cash. Could you imagine an optical components company being acquired by a systems company 10-14 years ago? Not likely, but the times are a changing. Will not be surprised to see more fabs coming to a US location near you.
As always, my thoughts on these matters might be completely wrong.
My wife would tell you that for some reason I own far too many books on First World War Naval History. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the history of Europe post the German wars of Unification (>1871) through the outbreak of the First World War. Some of my favorite college courses covered the treaty system of Bismarck and debates as to who was to blame for the outbreak of the First World War. Over time, I have become familiar with the naval history of the First World War. I think it might have started when I read Robert Massie’s book Dreadnaught. My fascination with this period of history is both tactical and strategic in nature.
This morning’s news brought a couple of headlines that are relevant to the last post on The Changing Structure of Technology Companies. The first article is from the Nikkei Asia Review which states that “…Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country’s position as the world’s powerhouse for tech gadgets.”
Working through a framing exercise of a series of cross market observations connecting to several historical corollaries to produce the following hypothesis: there will be an acceleration of change with regard to corporate structures, with emphasis on technology companies. The change that will occur will be impactful on a broad scope to include the private-equity association that has become integral to the technology market segment. The resulting reversal of off shoring to on shoring will have significant effects across the technology industry.
It has been almost two years since I wrote a blog post. That was intentional, but after long break I have decided to return to writing. From this point, the SIWDT blog will be less about networking and more about things that interest me. Some topics that interest me include, but are not limited to the following:
This post provides an outline as to why a Plexxi fabric is the best fabric to choose when deploying enterprise VDI. Before reading any further there are a few questions the reader should ask. Do I need better network? Am I ready for a modern network? If the answer was no to both questions, there is no need to read further. If the answer was yes and you would like to know what networking is like after legacy networking, then the following is for you.
It has been well over a year since I last posted and the cause of the writing draught has been work. I have simply been too tired and too busy to write, which is somewhat of a high-quality problem. Taking the time to construct my thoughts into words helps me craft my narrative to prospects and customers. This is a post about what I say to prospects and customers every week and it has changed and evolved over the past five years.
How do you know you are talking to a person who knows very little about modern networking? When they tell you that they think next-generation networking is about building a spine/leaf networks with legacy protocols so they can have some OS portability like the webscale companies. If you have been reading this blog for five years, I would first like to say thank you and second I am certain that you know the answer is not reinventing the past. I have been writing about the emerging Modern Era of networking for a few years. Continue reading
More than five years ago James Hamilton of Amazon fame, posted on his personal blog a presentation he gave about networking called Datacenter Networks Are in My Way. Here is a link to his post and my last check showed that the slides to the presentation are still available. I copied four of the slides in the thumbnail to the left to save the reader from a click out. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I posted a blog on what I have experienced over the past four years at Plexxi. That post led the Packet Pusher team of Ethan and Greg to reach out and we recorded a podcast about the changing role of the network engineer and IT silos. In preparation for the podcast, my colleagues Mat Mathews, Mike Welts and I collaborated on the following that I edited a final time after the podcast. This post started as a dialog about what we are seeing in the market, what our customers and prospects want to engage about, how we position Plexxi to the network engineer and where we see this all going now that market clarity has begun to emerge. Continue reading
Today is my four-year anniversary at Plexxi. I was in New York the week before Christmas to attend an investor conference focused on security and networking. It was a two-day trip that I expected to go by quickly as it was full of meetings and dinners. A colleague and I met with a number of crossover investors, analysts as well colleagues in compatriot companies. In our very first meeting an investor asked “four years in, how has it turned out compared to how you thought it would go when you started?”
The best quote in this article is “Everything made sense except that nobody gives a shit.” When I think about trends in the networking space over the past five years, that is how I would summarize most of the efforts labeled “disruptive” or “revolutionary.” When I can, I attend various local Meetups, which like a quasi-sales call. I get to hear end-users talking about what they are working on, what issues they are facing, etc. Meetups are kind of like fishing, some days they are a complete waste of time and other days you catch a lot of fish and in my world information is fish. I like to hear what end-users are saying, what they are working on and what keeps them up at night.
Most consumers are familiar with the availability of over the top (OTT) content. Examples are Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and we could even include gaming services in the description. The model for an OTT content provider like Netflix is to ride over a user’s data plan, and that data plan can be DSL, FTTH as well as wireless to deliver content. The consumption model is disaggregated between the data plan (i.e. internet) provider and the content (i.e. service) provider. This is also the point at which there is tension between both parties in terms of the cost to deploy bandwidth and which party profits from the services that ride over the bandwidth. That is not a topic for this post.
35,000 feet over Utah, one glass of scotch down, ear buds in and my internal notes sent; it is time to write some VMworld 2015 impressions for the blog. In no particular order, here they are: Continue reading