|By Michael Bushong||
|April 24, 2014 11:30 AM EDT||
From a cost perspective, the networking dialogue is dominated by CapEx. Acquisition costs for new networking gear have historically been tied to hardware, and despite the relatively recent rise of bare metal switching, networking hardware remains a high-stakes business. But SDN is changing this dynamic in potentially significant ways.
The first point to clarify when talking about CapEx is that CapEx does not necessarily mean hardware (at least not the way that most people mean). While there is a strict financial definition for CapEx, in the networking industry it has become shorthand for Procurement Costs. Because networking solutions have been predominantly monetized through hardware, we associate procurement costs with hardware, but this is changing.
The fact that the ’S’ in SDN stands for software is reason enough for people to look beyond the chassis. But the reality is that while vendors have monetized the hardware, the value has been increasingly moving to the software side for more than a decade. So long as everyone was selling hardware, it didn’t really matter that much whether the cost was tied to the hardware or the software, so we have been a little bit lazy collectively in determining a deliberate pricing mix.
More recently, however, there have been additional solutions that are offered entirely through software. With virtual networking devices, for example, there is no physical hardware (unless you count the servers and the network that connects the servers). A common sales tactic for these types of solutions is to point out how expensive physical solutions are. Why pay for all that sheet metal when you can get the same functionality in a virtual form factor? Of course, you are not really paying for the sheet metal; your check also pays for the software and all the features that go into that sheet metal. But the argument is pretty compelling.
The point here is that the only thing that really matters is how much you pay for the whole solution. Whether the price is affixed to hardware or software is an accounting detail – important for some people, but not really the most important thing for the majority of buyers. Rather than calling it CapEx, we ought to be referring more broadly to procurement or acquisition costs. All in, Solution A costs X dollars to bring in house, and Solution B costs Y dollars.
This would certainly simplify the conversation some. But even then, it isn’t all about procurement costs anymore either.
Depending on the solution, the procurement costs account for roughly one-third of the total cost of ownership. The remaining two-thirds of the cost is ongoing operating expense (power, cooling, space, management, support, and so on). The models here for most solutions start to get pretty squishy. While we can fairly formulaically determine things like power, space, and support, when it comes to estimating the cost of managing a device, the models are so dependent on uncontrollable things that they border on useless. And even when the models are sound, most companies have not sufficiently instrumented their network operations to really know what they are spending.
But just because it is difficult to model OpEx does not mean that network teams should ignore it.
If there is one thing that the gaming industry has taught us, it is that there are all kinds of creative ways to separate someone from their money. In the early days of video games, 100% of the cost was procurement cost. After you bought the install media, you had paid everything you were ever going to pay. Before long, some of the more popular games figured out that they could lower initial costs (make the barrier to entry lower) and then charge for ongoing use through subscriptions.
As the networking world adjusts the pricing mix – associating more of the cost with the software – we should expect that charge models will mirror what we have seen on the consumer side. It is not a big stretch (and in fact already happening) to see massive up-front hardware costs replaced with more palatable hardware pricing combined with either higher software or potentially support costs. This has the dual benefit of making it easier for customers to select a vendor, and creating annuities for said vendor.
But the evolution of game pricing models did not end with subscriptions.
For anyone who has gotten sucked into the hell that is Candy Crush, you are already well aware of in-app purchases. The initial game is free, but if you want to get a special advantage or unlock a level, you can make an in-app purchase. They have cleverly priced the in-app purchases to feel like you are hardly spending anything. It’s less than a dollar. I should just go ahead and get that spotted donut thingy! Of course, by the time you add up all those just a dollar moments, you end up paying far more than you ever would have up front.
The magic of this type of pricing is that most of this is not really known up front. When you first get Candy Crush, you don’t really think you are going to buy the special extras. And Candy Crush doesn’t tell you that the levels get progressively harder to the point that they are nigh impossible without a little extra help.
Before you write this off as not applicable to networking, consider a few points.
First, despite the huge open source push, there are still a lot of companies pursuing commercial grade versions of the otherwise free software. Sure, you might buy into the open source controller, but if you need the networking version of the spotted donut thing, what do you do? This is essentially the networking equivalent of the in-app purchase. Call it the in-arch purchase. Once you buy into a particular architecture, the switching costs are prohibitively high. If you have to pay more for the commercial software, can you really say no?
Second, some of the tiered pricing models that are taking root make it more difficult to accurately model ongoing license costs. If you are not thinking about how the costs will scale with the number of ports, users, VMs, or whatever, you might find out down the road that your solution is contributing more ongoing costs than anticipated. For example, buying one VM from Amazon might seem easy enough, but what if you need thousands? It doesn’t stay cheap forever.
Maybe the in-arch costs are just extra features or capabilities. Or ongoing support and services. Whatever the source, these types of costs contribute to the ongoing operating expenses. And because the primary purchasing criterion is CapEx (procurement costs), burying some of these costs a little later in the product lifecycle and making them a bit smaller in magnitude (but larger in volume) will be attractive.
The punch line here is that we are on the cusp of a change in monetization strategies. You might think that pricing and costs will be transparent, but has the networking community given us a real reason to believe that to date? If you think so, consider this: why do buyers celebrate 50% discounts? It’s because pricing is ridiculously obfuscated in this industry. Until we all start expecting more, I just don’t know why this would change.
Along those lines, my colleague Bill Koss posted some facts about Plexxi costs. In the interest of transparency, it’s worth taking a look here.
[Today’s fun fact: The wettest spot in the world is located on the island of Kauai. Mt. Waialeale consistently records rainfall at the rate of nearly 500 inches per year. That’s enough so drown 7 6-foot-tall men standing on each other’s heads.]
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Jun. 27, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 376
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Jun. 27, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 389
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Jun. 27, 2016 05:15 PM EDT Reads: 383
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
Jun. 27, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 376
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Jun. 27, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 774
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Jun. 27, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,168
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Jun. 27, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,240
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Jun. 27, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,269
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Jun. 27, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 864
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Jun. 27, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,069
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 912
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Jun. 27, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,087
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,335
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Jun. 26, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,249
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,375
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Jun. 26, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,302
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,323
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,158
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Jun. 26, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,381
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
Jun. 25, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,657