◎ Are We At Peak Networking Pricing ? What Will Commoditisation Deliver ?

Many people are predicting that networking will become a heavily commoditised with cheap white box hardware in the next few years. But I don’t believe commoditisation will happen the way that most people expect. So in this article I’m working through different ideas and concepts on product pricing and perceived value of networking as a whole. I would welcome discussion on this, I’m not completely confident that I’ve got my ideas locked down here. See you in the comments !


Rant: Our Vendor Partners Dont Have an SDN Vision

There is an old saying “A man with his eyes fixed on Heaven doesn’t see where he is going”. It’s an almost perfect description of how the major vendors are bringing Software Defined Networking to the market.

The consistent message from all the vendors and especially the Cisco, Juniper and Brocade is that there are “no use cases for SDN”. In the last three months, this has been a constantly repeated statement both publicly and privately. This beggars belief that vendors can’t see immediate needs that deliver long term gains.

I suspect that the root of this problem is the big companies want to solve big problems. And by solving big problems they figure that they can make big revenue. Alright, I get that. It’s understandable that large organisations need a constant revenue stream to feed the insatiable maws of their shareholders. However, the vendors re also missing the most real and immediate problem of networking today. Simply, Networking is too hard.

Vendors haven’t developed tools that keep the complexity of networking under control. Complexity can be reduced to this: “I don’t have big problems, I have lots of small problems.” You can have debates about addressing complexity and how to attack it, but it nearly always boils down to this: start small.

Comparing Embrane and Nicira is Pointless – They Are Different

Had a few conversations, and some articles, where comparisons are being made between Embrane and Nicira and wanted to point out that there are few similarities between these companies.

Predicting What Will Not Be Big in 2012

I’ve been working on making some predictions about 2012 and networking. I like to do this in the year of 2012 (not 2011 like everyone else) and I like to go further than anyone else and predict what WILL NOT be big in 2012.


VRRP. CARP. Open Standards and royalties on LC Connectors

In which I look at CARP vs VRRP, the nature of open standards and closed source fibre optic connectors that you pay royalties on, but you probably don’t know about.

Responding: On optimizing traffic for network virtualization

I’m responding to Brad Hedlund’s post “On optimizing traffic for network virtualization” where he seems to missed a key point. It’s about cost of ownership in terms of ability to troubleshoot.

European Research on Future Internet Design – White Paper

I was reading this research paper “European Research on Future Internet Design” and was struck by this diagram….

Rant: Who is Cisco’s Customer ? Me or the reseller ?

I resent the fact that Cisco partners get more information than Customers on Cisco’s website. Shows you who Cisco thinks the Customer really is.

What special powers do resellers have that makes them more effective ?

How does withholding information from Customers give a better outcome ?

Me ? Many resellers are not competent enough to be business and need a headstart to be useful to customers. Without some sort of “special needs” assistance, they wouldn’t be in the race.

Too harsh ? IBM and HP don’t rely on resellers to win business. Why does Cisco ?

VMware: Let’s get logical – the case for OpenFlow network virtualization (and their failed network plans)

VMware has made several strategic moves to implement dynamic networking – vSwitch, vDS, Nexus 1000 (in partnership with Cisco), vCloud External Networks (using MAC in MAC of all things) and have basically failed to deliver overlay technology without implementing technology in the network itself. Equally, VMware hasn’t been willing to engage with the networking vendors to develop technologies that would solve this problem – VNtag / VEPA/ VEP combined with TRILL / SPBB, instead letting them argue amongst themselves. VMware attempt with vCloud networking using MACinMAC encapsulation seems to have failed and stalled and is getting another attempt using MACinIP. VMware/Xen/HyperV are all desperate to have a more dynamic network that can be controlled from their software and this might be where OpenFlow gets a big lift – as a configuration engine.

Blessay: Comparing Merchant and Custom Silicon

Merchant Silicon is an marketing term used to describe the use of “off the shelf” chip components to create a networking product and commonly used by company that design their own silicon chips when explaining that their process is better and more efficient.

The networking industry has two types of silicon: ìcustom or in houseî or ìmerchant or off the shelfî. The ‘in house silicon’ argument goes something like this :

We have our specialist engineers who can custom design an ASIC and supporting chips that are completely focussed on the features needed to deliver Product X. As a result, our designs are purposefully built to be faster, better etc. Our prices are more expensive because our products are faster and more focussed and because our costs are higher.

The ‘merchant silicon’ argument goes something like this:

The levels of expertise required to design and build a silicon chip is very high. It requires specific skills, tools, and high levels of expertise. If your core business is producing a networking device, then having your own silicon development is not core business. By relying on companies who specialise in silicon design and manufacture, we can focus on software and integration to deliver new and better features at a cheaper price.


Chambers Challenged – Forbes.com.

When Forbes magazine delivers an hit piece like this, you know Cisco is in trouble.

Backplane Ethernet – the GBaseK Standard

A lesser known standard is Backplane Ethernet. I wasn’t aware of it until I was researching Notes on Cables and Connectors for 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. I spent some time over the weekend scratching an itch to have a look at it and why it exists.These are scrach notes, and observations from a research session and not intended to a canonical investigation. Interesting though because it’s is valuable to understand that many network products are functionally all the same – only the software and the people are different.

All The Ethernet Cooks

Just how many standards bodies actually make standards for Ethernet ?

Packet Pushers – Show 24 – Internet Exchange and Peering Points

We talk with Stephen Wilcox and Russell Heiling about Internet Exchange and Peering Points covering purposes, some technology and looking into the peering industry.

IBM buys Blade Networks – Cisco keeps its buddy ?

IBM buys Blade Networks IBM has “run for the stack” as customers ask for end to end guarantees for servers and networking in the data center. With Cisco and HP playing the FUD card and telling customers that only a single vendor solution can guarantee the next generation of blade servers and networks, IBM has […]

So You Want to be a Network Consultant

Having spent over twenty years in I.T. and over seventeen years in networking, Iíve worked with a lot of Network Engineers. Career progression has always been a hot topic. Iíve always been interested in learning how people have found themselves in the job they now do. Here are ten tips from a Technical Services Director (or Vice President) on how to work for a Reseller.


Packet Pushers Podcast – Show 4 – The Interview Process

This week Dan, Ethan and Greg cover some news and then put Marko Milivojevic through a “job interview” to deep dive the Interview Process.

Market positioning Acadia, EMC, Cisco and the whole vBlock Idea

So a while back, Cisco, VMWare and EMC announced that they are forming a partnership to co-operatively sell and support products in a joint venture named Acadia. Selected engineers and sales grunts, USD$200 million bucks and “no large customer left untouched” door to door marketing campaign. Is there anything to it ?

Review of the Cisco CRS-3 Marketing Debacle

The Cisco Marketing team kicked sand in the their own face with a failure to comprehend what customers want, and expecting them to comprehend what a BFR is for. The claim that “Internet will never be the same again” got a massive cold shoulder when they announced another big router.

The Harbinger of Death for PABX and IP Telephony

Unlimited voice/text/data plans in the UK signal the end of Legacy and IP Telephony market as we know it.

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