Drive the Network Smarter – Not Harder
I spent the better part of week on the road visiting clients and attending the OFC/NFOEC show in Los Angeles. The exhibit show floor does not really provide much interest to me as they are all a letdown when I think back on InterOp+Network World 1994 (Vegas) and Supercomm 1997 (New Orleans), but I do find the panel discussions to have a high chance of being interesting. I missed the panel on Lighting Up the Data Center on Tuesday, but I did attend the Role of the Network in the Age of Social Media and I found the presentations thought provoking.
Not Big Enough, Not Cheap Enough, More Means More:
One panelist who had spent nearly his entire career working for service providers presented a loud and strong message to the audience that optical innovation is not going fast enough, he needs more and more and more and it needs to be cheap, cheap and cheap. He then went on to say that networking (i.e. optical) innovation is not thinking big enough, not cheap enough and more means more. Anyone who has had had a conversation with me on this subject should have no question as to where I stand on this topic. I think it is all non-sense and the equipment companies that what to build more for less are crazy. That was the point of this post. In no real order here are my thoughts on the subject of not big enough, not cheap enough and more is more:
1. More is not more, but cheaper is definitely cheaper. I understand why service providers (SPs) want to off load their R&D requirements on equipment providers. SPs have billions to spend on their network and it easier to use this capital as leverage to get what they want from equipment companies. As long as this trend continues, innovation will be dormant and value creation will be nascent. That was the point of this post.
2. 100M ethernet was introduced around 1996. 1G ethernet was ratified in June 1998 with shipping systems in the 1999 timeframe. 10G ethernet was ratified in June 2002. 40/100G ethernet was ratified in June, 2010. This past week Intel formerly shipped the Romley motherboard called the E5-2600 with 10G ethernet LAN on motherboard (LOM). Ten years after the 10G standard was ratified it is shipping on a mother board. Hmm…let us extrapolate the trend here, the 10G server upgrade cycle is kicking off 14 years after the 1G cycle started. Anyone want to guess when that 100G server cycle is going to kickoff?
3. The last thirty-three years of building networks to the OSI Reference Model is at an end. We have taken the model as far as we can with Moore’s Law, but the time has come to speak of Moore’s Law Exhaustion.
4. It is time to drive the network smarter – not harder. That is what I am working on. Real innovation occurs when people dare to step outside the ridge construct of legacy doctrines that have been enforced by the past. If you are working hard on innovation with the intention of repeating the past, but providing more for less I think you missed the point. “The success of a technology company is really about product cycles. Technology companies become stuck in loops because product cycles become affected by success. The more success a technology company has in winning customers, the more these customers begin to dominant product cycles. As product cycles become anchored by the customer base, the plan of record (POR) suffers from feature creep and the ability of the company to invest in products for new customers and new markets declines. Consider the following:
New Technology = Velocity
Developed Technology = Spent Capital, Doctrine, Incrementalism and Creativity Fail”
That quote from a prior post was the point I was making in my F-4 Phantom II post. More on the effect of doctrine in technology companies here. My summation to the more is more and cheaper argument is I am not surprised by the argument; it is expected from those conditioned over many years to think in a ridged construct. That is the affect of doctrine and doctrine must be exterminated from the organization or we are doomed to repeating loops.
I was very interested to listen to Bikash Koley’s answer to question about content and global caching. He referenced the effect of Google’s High Speed Global Caching network in Africa. This network built by Google is not without controversy. Here is a link to a presentation in 2008 about the formative roots of this network. My point is I increasingly see service providers and content owners taking a DIY approach to content and these providers do not have to be the size of Google.
Cloud Providers Getting Ready for Big Data:
I was visiting a cloud provider on the west coast with a colleague and I left with a lot of notes, but as usual what I hear when speaking with cloud providers and what I read about cloud providers are at odds with each other. This cloud provider had a growing hosting business with clients in India, South America as well as the US. All of their compute elements are physically located in the US. No one is worried about big data and the external network (this thing called the internet) is running just fine for their video hosting customers as well as avatar hosted gaming clients. They spend a lot of their time on back end optimization of their compute and storage networks. That is the 77% problem versus the 23% problem I posted about here.
* It is all about the network stupid, because it is all about compute. *
** Comments are always welcome in the comments section or in private. **