In Affinity Networking, Application Centricity, Industry Insights

This week the networking world focused its attention on two major announcements from Arista and Cisco. Michael Bushong discussed why these announcements represent two different points of view in the network in another post this week. As a company founded on “affinity networking,” which is largely the same concept as application-centric infrastructure, Plexxi considers the Insieme launch to be a major affirmation of our solution and our role in this space. Moreover, we have been at it since 2010 and continue to make advancements in our strategy and improvements to the technology we provide. Dan Backman explains more about this new direction in networking in the video of the week. Here is the video of the week and a few of my reads in the Plexxi Pulse – enjoy!

Quentin Hardy at the New York Times Bits Blog covered Cisco’s big announcement to purchase the Cisco-founded company, Insieme and its application-centric infrastructure technology. Quentin discusses the implications for SDN and Cisco’s partnerships to deploy the technology, and he writes, “the competition to see who is right, Cisco or its new wave of competitors, had begun even before Wednesday’s announcement.” The interesting piece of this week's announcements from Cisco and Arista is that they fundamentally attack different problems. Arista clearly announced price per port improvements in a converged chassis (CapEx), and Cumulus, also referenced in the article, is about driving CapEx down. SDN is broadly aimed more at OpEx, the dominant contributor to cost over the life of a device, and the application-centric push seems to be aimed more at OpEx as well. So we are seeing a bifurcation of sorts – with part of the market attacking cheap bandwidth and part of the market going after application-driven endeavors. The question is who will win? The real problem over time is unlikely to capital equipment. CIOs will be responsible for productivity and experience so that CEOs get maximum return out of their human capital or their supporting infrastructure. The future will undoubtedly be orchestration, and in that regard, I think the Insieme announcement is more interesting. As a company working in the application-driven space for a number of years now, it is refreshing to see the “Big Dog” back the same concepts.

A CIOL staff writer explained a new report from Dell'Oro Group suggests the SDN Market will grow more than six-fold over the next five years, with most of the market comprised of Ethernet Switches and Network Security Appliances. I think it is important to note that the SDN spend will be substitutive of traditional networking spend. SDN will not create net-new IT spend, and largely represents a shift in dollars. Accordingly, vendors will shift their portfolios. It seems that in the not-too-distant future, it will actually be harder to buy something non-SDN in some spaces. We released our own market estimate with Light Speed Venture Partners and SDNCentral.

InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr provides 9 IT trends for 2014 and beyond. I think the last one, “Developers continue to rule,” is particularly salient for anyone in the IT infrastructure space. The days when you just had to do your part should be coming to an end as applications spread their workloads across multiple infra silos. This means that the silos need to coordinate, and that requires a software middleware to do it appropriately. DevOps, SDN and Network Virtualization are all techy trends in this space, but they all mean significant changes to how business is done. More importantly for some, they will change forever what has been a static vendor landscape, creating new opportunity for startups and larger players moving into new markets. Cisco, Oracle and IBM appear headed for a collision over the next several years. This will play out as hardware, software and services. Which one wins? It’s hard to say, but the companies that put their customers in the best position to treat their collective IT infrastructure as a single resource subordinate to the application will win.

In Network Heresy a staff writer posted an interesting piece on network optimization via large flow detection and handling. Using a metaphor with an elephant and mice, the post describes what matters for traffic optimization and presents a number of approaches for handling the “elephant” flows in the physical fabric. It is a really interesting read so check it out!

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