Networking will Change…

A few weeks ago I spent the morning in New York City presenting to a room full of people about networking. Networking is typically not a really big draw on a Friday in NYC during August, but the turn out was great and the morning was quite pleasant.

The networking market is hard for people who are not networking people to understand. I think I have had a reasonably successful career in the networking industry and I find success elusive if you are not inside one of the large incumbents living off past glories. I have tremendous respect for the team at Arista for building a business inside Cisco’s core market when Cisco has such dominant market share as well as an army of loyal fans. There have not been many companies to build an alternative-networking platform to Cisco since the 1990s. Riverbed went public, but their success was focused on a specific market segment and I would group the various wifi companies in a specific market segment as well.

What is really hard is showing up at a F500 company and trying to convince the networking team to choose a new networking vendor after fifteen years of building the same network with products from the same vendor. I had one person tell me that his kid was dating the kid from the sales rep of the incumbent vendor as they lived in the same town and went to the same school. That is a hard sales challenge to overcome.

I also find that networking people are very much stuck in land of 2004 from a knowledge and career perspective. There is clearly a lot of career frustration for the network engineer who is in the 35-45 age range. The world is changing around them and many have told me they feel they have plateaued from a career and income perspective. I had one network architect at a large financial company tell me he had been building data centers with Cisco for twenty years, he was 45, was planning to build one last data center and sees no reason to do anything different at this point in his life.  That was point of this post from last year.

The point of my presentation in NYC (see link: Hyperconverged Rack Scale Networks – 08-2015 Preso) was that the 30 year blueprint as how networks are built, is changing. We are going to move from a collection of complex autonomous devices, to networks that operate as a system and can be correlated to compute, storage and apps. Over the past six years there have been a number of new networking startups, which is the most since the 1990s. I would state that none of us got the future correct, despite all the marketing, blogging and tweeting we did. The company that gets the future correct is the company that is going to take elements from everyone’s strategy to find the recipe that is compelling to ultra-conservative network buyer.

 

/wrk

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