Beginning with a Different Perspective

The seminal achievement of SNA in the late 1970s to mid 1980s was to make minicomputers viable from an enterprise market perspective. Enterprise computer networks were completely dependent on the mainframe computers supplied from IBM or one of the minor mainframe suppliers. SNA was a proprietary solution implemented by IBM, but it was an open source solution. This enabled the suppliers of mini computers such as DEC, Wang, Prime, Data General, Apollo, and others to use SNA technology to deploy their systems into the network. Open source meant that competitors as well as providers of non-competitive systems had access to the technical implementation of SNA and thus could use SNA to add their computers to an SNA network.   The mini-computer vendors implemented a PU_Type 2 node capability on their computers, which enabled these machines to seamlessly interact with mainframe computers as well as each other. This was the genesis of distributed computing (Platform 1.0). It was a seminal moment that gave birth to the commercial network within the enterprise market and started the progression towards the client/server network, which is Platform 2.0. This occurrence may not have had the dramatic overtones of Roger Kildall flying his plane while IBM waited in his lobby to license CP/M for the personal computer – but it is significant because networking of computers started with IBM. Continue reading

Essay on Decision Loops – Part 3

In order to understand Boyd’s model for operations, we must understand his premise that there is a fundamental need for decisions. He states, “Against such a background, actions and decisions become critically important. Actions must be taken over and over again and in many different ways. Decisions must be rendered to monitor and determine the precise nature of the actions needed that will be compatible with the goal. To make these timely decisions implies that we must be able to form mental concepts of observed reality, as we perceive it, and be able to change these concepts as reality itself appears to change. The concepts can then be used as decision-models for improving our capacity for independent action. Such a demand for decisions that literally impact our survival causes one to wonder: How do we generate or create the mental concepts to support this decision-making activity?” [see Boyd, Destruction and Creation]. This quote highlights the basic contribution that Boyd provided. He developed a model that can be extrapolated into a process for decision-making. Boyd called the model he developed the O-O-D-A loop. Continue reading

Essay on Decision Loops – Part 2

Post the end Vietnam War and the entrance of America in the 1970s, it seemed that America had lost their way. The mathematicians and hard science was again in decline and the philosophical and social sciences came to the fore. It would be in the 1990s, that hard science and mathematics would once again gain a dominant position in thought leadership. Out of the counterforce debacle in Vietnam and the dominance of defense and public policy by neoclassical theories, emerged John Boyd who developed a philosophy and process that formulates strategy based on all data and uses dynamic analytics to continuously evolve strategy to achieve objectives. This is not a game theory strategy that mathematically outlines various outcomes based on strategies employed. It is not a precise mathematical formula that defines risk. Boyd believed that strategy is an ever evolving and highly iterative process designed to achieve victory. It requires assumptions of risk with constant analytics of the operating environment. Boyd believed that the real target was your enemy’s perception for it is enemy who decides when they are defeated – not you. Keynes would describe this as the participants in the financial market who decide when you have won or lost – it is the not the companies. In the business market it is the companies competing for market share who decide when they have lost. Continue reading

Essay on Decision Loops – Part 1

In 1928 a young, brilliant mathematician named John van Neumann, devised a theory that would affect economic and military thought for many years to come. The theory that Neumann developed was based upon several observations he made during a game of poker. The first observation was that wining and losing was the interdependent on all players. A wining strategy was not solely based upon a single player’s strategy – but rather the product of all the player’s strategies. In order to devise a winning strategy, Neumann had to account for other player’s strategies, assuming that each player’s objective was to win the game. From these observations Neumann developed what became known as game theory and he applied the theory to economic markets. Previous economic models used traditional neoclassical economic assumptions that a seller and buyer acted solely on the mission to maximize their gains. A seller is looking to maximize profit and a buyer wants the maximum value for capital spent. The contribution that Neumann made was to define a seller and buyer as a transactional unit that was dependent upon each other, but not necessarily to achieve maximize profits and value for capital. Continue reading

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

There is No Like Button in the Real World

The 80s were magical, but that time is lost and gone forever. We may never get that feeling back and if you missed the 80s, you may never know what it is like to live in the risk on world and that fucking sucks. I feel sorry for all you who were raised with all these good intentions about happiness and a place in the world, but you will never know the liberation that comes with traveling south crossland. 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

Hallway Conversations and Peer Reviews – Circa 2014

A question I am often asked by people outside of tech industry is: why do I use Twitter and what is it good for? Most people think that Twitter is good for following athletes, musicians and actors. Now that Google Reader is gone, it has for the most part replaced my RSS reader application. I consume news via Twitter. I actually like that I can choose to tune in or tune out. 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?

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 9.31.41 AM
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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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Emerging Modern IT Force

These are some rough, non-distilled thoughts around the concept of an emerging modern IT force.  This is a continuation of a prior post, but the genesis of my thoughts reach further back to a breakfast on December 11, 2009 with Charles Gave.  It was at this breakfast I was introduced to their idea around the model portfolio company.  In December 2009, the equity markets were well off their lows and we had endured only the first round of QE from the Federal Reserve.  From my memory, the model portfolio company looked like a company that had strong brand awareness, with a strong balance sheet, essentially self funded with no reliance on government or public sector funding, it developed their product set (i.e. intellectual property) in the US, manufactured overseas in low cost centers and was able to optimize their tax burdens by collecting and retaining cash in overseas markets.  There was a back and forth discussion on corporate tax laws, where a company should be domiciled, where it should develop IP to best be legally protected and what the modern construct of the corporation would look like in the coming years. Continue reading

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