Premature Optimization of SDN

On day when we can read the story of the Barbarians at the Gate that SDN created for Cisco and EMC; I look back over the past four to five years as time wasted on the premature optimization of SDN. I spend a good a portion of my time selling networking solutions based on SDN, or as I refer to it a modern controller architecture. My conclusion is the past few years have been a SDN anti-pattern. We have gone from a problem statement about the network to a bad solution and along the way we attempted a premature optimization of SDN around narrow use cases. SDN fits the definition of the anti-pattern. Continue reading

It is Hard to Grow Large Cap Tech Companies

I am often asked what my opinion is of Cisco. Is it going out of business because of white box? Should they buy Arista? Should they buy NetApp or EMC or Citrix or RedHat? The news today that HP is going to break into two companies tells me that we have reached a point where it is difficult to grow large cap tech that have multiple business units. No CEO of a large cap tech company wants to be the AOL/Time-Warner of this market era. A few thoughts on the subject of large cap tech companies. Continue reading

Does SDN, DevOps and Agile Infrastructures Require an Abandonment of Taylorism?

I posted last week about a sales call gone wrong and an innovator’s dilemma moment. Since that time I have had additional customer and internal engagements that caused me to think about what I call institutionalized impedance, which might be more familiar to a broader audience if I called it Taylorism or scientific measurement. Continue reading

Sales Call Gone Wrong and the Innovator’s Dilemma Moment

Absolutely horrific sales call today with prospective client. It started down the wrong path when customer said they just wanted the technical details regarding the Plexxi solution and did not want any marketing messages. To a sales team, this is red flag because customer is telling you that they have complete working knowledge of your product without ever taking the time to listen. In this case, the customer just wanted to ask “technical questions” to “ferret out the holes” which is an interesting directive because it assumes a working technical knowledge around our product set as well as controllers, photonics, switching silicon, network architectures, switch design, graph theory, etc.
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Completely Unscientific Study of Consumer Internet Prices

Bandwidth is deflationary and I find any arguments to the contrary to be foolish. This is a subject I have written about before here, here, here and here. Over the past few weeks, I have been reminded that it is always easier to solve most networking problems by applying bandwidth. A few weeks ago I found myself reading one of Marc Andreessen tweet streams of conciseness and I replied (see below). After making the tweet I wondered if I was correct?

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Do It Again Part 3: It is Easy to Believe in Self-Referential Data Sets

A component of my job requires me to interview people and one effect of the successful Arista IPO has been an increased number of CVs from Cisco employees. I am interviewing a candidate from Cisco about a week ago and this person tells me that Plexxi seems to have copied the theme from Insieme. That is nice. I find it to be a good exercise to look back and review writings from a year or two ago. Is it still accurate? What has changed? Do you still believe what you wrote? I think this is best way to avoid self-referential data sets.
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Do It Again Part 2: My Thoughts on the State of Networking June 2014

My perception of 2013 is a year lost in noise with regard to networking and SDN. It seems that after Nicira was acquired by VMware in 2012, the velocity of SDN and networking noise increased to unexpected levels and it had a detrimental effect on the market. If I worked at an incumbent networking company, this is exactly the effect I would have desired. Freeze the market in a state of confusion and sprinkle in as much disinformation as possible. Well played if you have market share to protect.
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Do It Again Part 1: My Past Comes Full Circle

When I was a young corporate system engineer (CSE) I helped a field sales team in the mid-west close a large deal at an insurance company. This was during the transition period from SNA to Client/Server networking and the deal included core, regional and branch nodes. The deal was the biggest in the company history and it provided me with a promotion to be the CSE manager. All was well in my world until six months later when the COO told me I had to go back and fix the account because we were having serious issues and we were on the verge of losing it.
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Comcast/Netflix Deal…what does it mean?

I am curious to learn the details around the Comcast/Netflix deal that is being widely reported this afternoon.  Having spent the better part of the past twenty-years selling equipment to service providers of all types on most continents and in a variety of regulated constructs, the subject of net-neutrality and OTT have been a prominent subject in my blogs over the past eight years.  SIWDT is coming up three years old and one benefit that content has to me is it is searchable and I can go back and critique my thoughts.  I did a search on “net neutrality” and it came back with four prior posts.  I carved out a relevant quote from each post:

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Charles VIII and the Emerging Modern IT Force

I am careful with the use of the term revolution.  This discipline comes from my academic studies and too many years studying actual revolutions and revolutionaries.  We can debate the impact of technological advances on the field of battle, but these advances would be limited if they were not organized, trained and led with purpose.  I understand the impact of the percussion cap and rifled barrel, but it is the adoption and use of the technological that is important — not the invention of the technology in isolation. Continue reading

Networking Thoughts to Start 2014

SIWDT is my second blog.  My first blog lasted few years from 2005 to 2007.  I created my first blog, which can still be found on the Wayback machine, after having an unexpected breakfast with Dave Winer in 2006.  It was at a conference in San Diego and if you do not know who Dave Winer, please stop reading now and go back to whatever you were doing before you thought to read this blog. Continue reading

Future Generations Riding on the Highways that We Built

When I was in high school and college, I never thought about a career in networking; it was just something I did because it was better than all the other jobs I could find.  I worked at my first networking startup in the late ‘80s and twenty-five years later, I am still working in networking. Continue reading

Just to tell our souls we’re still the young lions…

I am listening to Mellencamp’s Lonesome Jubilee album, which provides a flood of memories from 1987.  I had the morning drive slot as a local DJ at tiny college radio station when the album debuted and I was heavily into U2 at the time.  One morning the station director surprised me a little after 6am one day to ask why I was not playing more John Cougar?  This was a time when we were still using cart players for ad insertion.  Check it Out and Cherry Bomb are two fantastic songs from that album.  I had two Twitter exchanges collide (one on OpenFlow and the other on thought leadership) this past week which provided the framework around this post, but I could not channel the energy to write until I put on an old playlist and much to surprise, I found myself listen to Mellencamp after a decade long hiatus.  That is how SDN and thought leadership met Mellencamp one day and became a blog post. Continue reading

Framing Exercise:::What if we Turned the Network Off?

While I was out at VMWorld, I was telling my colleague @cloudtoad about how I learned to sell multi-protocol networking to SNA shops.  This conversation started me thinking about network.  Since that conversation, I have been reading some recently issued RFXs that we need to respond to and it led me to an interesting framing exercise that I thought I would share on the blog. Continue reading

Working on Mysteries Without Any Clues

Heading out to VMworld for a second time as member of the Plexxi team.  I am really looking forward to the SDN, networking, overlay, switching banter during the show week.  During my first year at Plexxi, I spent a lot of time presenting to end-users in the financial, web scale and cloud provider communities.
Over the past six months, not so much.
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Are You Building a Company or Managing an Engineering Project?

Earlier today I read this post titled “SDN is Not a Technology, It’s A Use Case.”  Shortly after, I found myself in a conversation with one of our lead algorithmic developers.  We were discussing recent developments in the deployment of photonics inside the data center and papers we had read from Google researchers.  At Plexxi, we have already begun the thinking around what our product architecture will look like in 3-5 years.  In the conversation I was having with the algorithmic developer, it occurred to me that we sometimes become so immersed in what we are doing on a daily, weekly, quarterly basis that we lose track of whether we are working on a project or building a company.

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Go Back There is No Place for You Here in the Future

I was reminded of a scene from Field of Dreams the other day.  The scene I was reminded of occurs when Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) meets Terrance Man (James Earl Jones) in his apartment.  I am thinking of the part when Terrance says “Oh my God, you’re from the sixties!” with a smile and excitement and Ray says “yes.”  Terrance picks up an insect sprayer, starts spraying and yelling at him to get and go back as there is no room for him here in the future.  He slams the door, but Ray stops it and says “you changed.”  

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