Infoblox has been making software that fills the gaps that mainstream vendors haven’t covered for more than a decade. Its primary product is IP Address Management with tools for IPAM, DNS and DHCP. The NetMRI product is good but old. And the DNS Firewall is a me too.
The long term viability of this product is effectively zero. The arrival of SDN platforms like Nuage Networks VSP, Juniper’s Contrail, Cisco’s ACI and, most importantly, OpenDaylight means that these functions are subsumed into those SDN systems as an integral function for both service providers and enterprises. Other features are moving into cloud orchestration platforms like VMware vCloud, Cisco CIAC, OpenStack etc. Who needs IPAM as a standalone product ?
Further, Infoblox isn’t doing enough to integrate with those SDN platforms to ensure any future revenue by adding value there.
The DNS Load balancing products are better handled using a SaaS product like Amazon’s Route 53. In the current security environment, running your own DNS server is a high risk option. People are slow to change on this idea but momentum is inexorable.
In the shorter term, the arrival of DevOps into the operational models is changing the fundamentals of the how IPAM software is deployed. Two years ago, a network engineer was not permitted to operate a server. That was the responsibility of the server team. The result was that engineers turned to appliances that looked like network devices to provide the software – companies like Infoblox and Bluecat met that need.
This year, the network engineers are stretching their software skills by deploying Linux and open source software. Tools like IPPlan, GestoIP and many others are free but mostly a good opportunity to build skills in software (the future of networking). Who wants to buy Infoblox when you can do it yourself and improve your career ?
Finally, Infoblox products are eye-wateringly overpriced. In recent evaluations I have performed with customers, Infoblox doesn’t even make it past the “sniff test” and is consistently discarded early. The analysts claim that 78% gross profit margins make it attractive business but down here in the real world, it makes for an expensive product that it’s easy to ignore. If you still want a commercial product then most customers would choose Solarwinds because its reasonably priced.
NetMRI the product family in network monitoring. Its a good product but again, painfully expensive to purchase and maintain. It’s also irrelevant in an SDN future. SDN platforms have most of NetMRI monitoring capabilities as part of their value proposition. Cisco ACI, in particular, has made a significant point of highlighting it’s end to end monitoring and visibility capabilities.
Network Automation – Whatever automation they have, it’s nothing compared to what VMware NSX, Juniper Contrail and Nuage Networks has demonstrated already. There is zero barrier to entry with startups like Anuta Networks and Live Action doing more, better and at a cheaper price.
Infoblox did a lot of press around their DNS firewalls product. I was baffled by how much excitement this generated in financial markets and might have been the cause of the run up in the share price over the last year. I don’t really understand why this is product at all.
DNS Firewalling is a “me too” product. Cisco bought Sourcefire which has it, in addition to IronPort and ScanSafe. HP Tipping Point has it. Palo Alto WildFire does it. Everyone who has a reputation service product has it and there are a lot of them…..
And most people are moving to cloud services because of DNS flood attacks. Why would you buy this product ?
The EtherealMind View
Infoblox is a good company with solid but tedious network management products. They are truly expensive and the company was successful while there was little serious competition or alternatives. Times have changed and the market for this type of software is being commoditised. Solarwinds makes good enough products that undermine future sales in the core IPAM Business and tens of startups are doing it better and cheaper while SDN disrupts the market entirely.
The attempt to stretch into security was well executed but the fundamentals are wrong. Cloud services have eaten a large chunk of the secure DNS market already and whats left is handled by existing vendors with existing products. “DNS firewalling” is a one trick pony.
I also find it hard to see where Infoblox can go from here. Can their core product be transformed to add value over the top of other SDN platforms ? What customer value can be delivered during a market transition where network management and visibility is built into the network itself ?
SDN changed a few things. Cloud changed a few things. High profit margins in core market leaves Infoblox exposed for disruption. At the first sign of of loss of momentum, investors are leaving because they can see the disruption coming. Infoblox reported a slowdown in sales and that triggered the drop. I predict that this will happen repeatedly in the year ahead as networking companies with high profit margins and share in legacy markets are disrupted by the SDN and Cloud double. Infoblox is just one of the first.