|By Michael Bushong||
|May 21, 2014 11:18 AM EDT||
When we think about what’s next, our frame of reference is almost universally anchored to what we are doing now. We look at how things are, and then we aim our sights forward. In some cases, we might make incremental moves ahead; in other cases, maybe we look for improvement by orders of magnitude. But regardless of how far forward we reach, our starting point is where we are grounded today.
This creates an interesting dilemma in technology generally, and in networking especially.
Networking is a capabilities-driven industry. We are constantly expanding what we can do with networks. In some cases, it might be how we handle complex policy, in others how we solve interesting traffic challenges. Whatever the problem, we have thus far been able to come up with some way to address it.
Some might read this and think: it’s not all capabilities! While it is true that the networking industry has spawned a number of efforts over the years aimed more at usability than capability, the inability to make a large business out of network management is a running joke. In fact, when we think of companies that have been very successful in creating useful products in the usability space, we probably think of companies that are a lot smaller than their tech justifies (Tail-f comes screaming to mind personally, but there are others).
So networking really is dominated by efforts around new capabilities.
But who invents these new capabilities?
Invention falls on the backs of the vendors. This is an obvious point. But what is the frame of reference from which the vendors build?
We all build from our current starting point. So as we evolve networking, we evolve it forward from our current base set of capabilities. There is nothing new in that statement, but consider this: what happens when an inventor’s ability to churn out new things outpaces a consumer’s ability to adopt it?
This is actually a dangerous state to be in. Useful innovation requires iteration. You need to come up with new ideas, prototype them, test them, collect feedback and iterate. But when new capabilities outpace the bulk of the market, two things happen: first, the capabilities go unused for the majority of consumers, and second, the lack of use inhibits the natural iterative process.
VMWare as an example
Let’s apply this to some specific industry examples. In using these examples, I don’t mean to judge the efficacy of any particular solution. Instead, I want to point out the strategic implications of this dynamic.
VMWare very famously pushed into the networking arena through the acquisition of Nicira a couple of years ago. With the acquisition and subsequent product launches, they effectively created the network virtualization space. They have built and shipped a product (NSX) that is the leader in this technology.
If you watch the technical dialogue around NSX, they have been building around their NSX beachhead. They talk about distributed firewalls now, and it won’t be long before they expand beyond that. They are clearly inventing quite rapidly, building lots of functionality that has the potential to be extremely useful.
Adoption, not innovation
But the issue that VMWare faces is certainly not related to their ability to innovate. Their primary struggle has to be with adoption.
When you create new categories of products, you sometimes address problems that people do not know they have. You build solutions that are beyond what a user’s current capabilities are, so the path from here to there is non-obvious.
Put slightly differently, while the frame of reference from which a vendor innovates is their product, the frame of reference from which a user grows is their deployment. In the same way that networking vendors naturally move forward incrementally, users will tend to make incremental architectural changes.
This means that product strategy has to include more than capabilities. It has to include migration as well. Migration is not just another way of calling out an insertion strategy. It really means that you have to strategize explicitly about how customers move from A to B. This means understanding what they perceive the transition to look like. What is their foundation? How does a shift impact things like training and process? How does a change intersect budgeting decisions? Do expanding capabilities muddy the approval chain as you bridge functional teams?
Understanding this, you can start to shape a strategy that extends beyond the product. Using the VMWare example again, the problems they are solving are tied to companies’ inability to manage their networks today. But they have built a dependence on the presence of a functional underlying network. If the underlying network is functional, then the problem they are addressing is less acute. But if the problem exists, then the architectural foundation is poorly suited for an easy transition.
In the latter case, the go-to-market strategy needs to consider the state of the foundation. It might make sense, for example, to then partner with vendors who make the underlying issues easier. Or perhaps you target accounts where there has been recent turnover at the CIO or VP of Infrastructure level, because that might indicate a change in architectural posture. If a company is already solving the foundational problems, you could potentially draft off that effort and solve the second problem of policy management for only incrementally more cost and effort.
Whatever the path, the strategy has to reconcile that the vendor and user frames of reference are different. Adding even more innovation feels like the right thing to do (always be moving forward!), but does it widen the gap between vendor and customer to the point that transition is impossible?
Let me be clear here – I don’t actually think that NSX is necessarily at that state. I am really just trying to land the point that innovation ahead of adoption needs to be an explicit strategic discussion because it impacts how you eventually bring products to market. Again, the point is not about NSX but more about strategic consideration of the point from which users are building. If you think about innovation from a user’s perspective, you might alter your own strategies in perhaps unexpected ways.
As a final thought, as the industry continues down the SDN path, how should companies and open source organizations shape their offerings to ease adoption.
[Today’s fun fact: A hummingbird weighs less than a penny. I used to think I was like a hummingbird, but this ruins the comparison.]
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 476
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Dec. 1, 2015 04:00 PM EST Reads: 507
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 387
Most of the IoT Gateway scenarios involve collecting data from machines/processing and pushing data upstream to cloud for further analytics. The gateway hardware varies from Raspberry Pi to Industrial PCs. The document states the process of allowing deploying polyglot data pipelining software with the clear notion of supporting immutability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Shashank Jain, a development architect for SAP Labs, discussed the objective, which is to automate the IoT deployment process from development to production scenarios using Docker containers.
Dec. 1, 2015 03:00 PM EST Reads: 149
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
Dec. 1, 2015 02:45 PM EST Reads: 449
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
Dec. 1, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 454
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Dec. 1, 2015 02:00 PM EST Reads: 552
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Dec. 1, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 359
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Dec. 1, 2015 12:00 PM EST Reads: 314
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Dec. 1, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 480
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Dec. 1, 2015 11:45 AM EST Reads: 376
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Dec. 1, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 519
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them to design hosted applications.
Dec. 1, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 141
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Dec. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 583
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Dec. 1, 2015 09:00 AM EST Reads: 486
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 400
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 399
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Dec. 1, 2015 08:00 AM EST Reads: 257
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Dec. 1, 2015 06:30 AM EST Reads: 515
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Dec. 1, 2015 05:00 AM EST Reads: 627