◎ 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

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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.

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.

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