Dell 3.0 Takes Center Stage at DEW

Austin, Texas:  The critical question arising from the inaugural Dell EMC World event — at least for me, an IBM, HP/E and Dell/EMC/VMware investor — is what makes Dell’s prospects any brighter than those of its two main competitors, IBM and HPE, and the trio of enterprise vendors offering more limited portfolios — Cisco, Oracle and Lenovo? IBM has seen its sales shrink for the last 17 quarters, HPE is just shrinking, and the other contenders can only offer partial solutions — predominantly networking and datacenter servers, DBMS software and appliances, and devices, respectively. From its humble roots in Michael Dell’s college dorm room, the company has scaled the PC heights, added servers, storage, software, networking, security and services and, with the completion of the EMC acquisition, is now grappling with the IT industry’s largest acquisition and largest debt load. It has also added significant resources in enterprise storage (disk, flash and software-defined), virtualization (VMware), cloud (Virtustream, Pivotal and ECS), networking (SDN/NSX), all-in-one appliances (VCE) and security (RSA). Of course there is a lot of overlap too, and while the combined companies may point out the differences, many others will be concerned about the similarities. We’ve already seen signs of tighter focus — i.e. the sales of the enterprise content division, services and software units, and the (lower-than-expected) SecureWorks IPO — and the first workforce reductions, 2,000-3,000 jobs are expected to be cut, out of 140,000. On the good (?) news front, Dell moved into top spot in server shipments for the most recent quarter, while HPE held on to top spot in revenues; shipments grew 2% year-over-year, while revenues edged 0.8% lower. Even better, EMC was named a leader in integrated systems, and the acquisition should strengthen that position, although Gartner cautions that uncertainty will plague the new Dell-EMC-VMware combination that brings ‘multiple overlapping and competing integrated system strategies under one roof.’ The results were equally ambivalent for enterprise storage, where revenue was flat while shipped capacities shot up 12.9%; EMC tied for first place with HPE ($1.6 billion each) while Dell came in third place with a revenue increase of 14%, up to $1 billion. Prior to the acquisition EMC was pushing a software-defined everything strategy, and it’s unlikely that focus will change under new ownership. The current evolution of IT is offering customers a couple of choices in pursuit of shrinking data centers, lower CAPEX and OPEX and the ability to leverage the cloud: some form of do it yourself versus an all-in-one solution, and hardware versus software lock-in (and that at the end of the day, there’s no getting away from software lock-in), Manuvir Das,...

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Trends in Software-defined Networking…

I recorded a free webinar on trends in software-defined networking. In this webinar, we explore the trends in Software-defined Networking: how it has evolved from data center uses to support WAN use-cases, support for security, new programming models such as containers, and more. We examine how it offers different models to support traditional networking professionals, DevOps users, and how Layer-2-based software-defined networks differ from pure Layer-3-based systems. The topic I mentioned is that there are so many different definitions of SDN. There’s data center SDN, wide area SDN (or SD-WAN), cloud networking, SD-LAN (something new), container networking. Not everything is settled, but it’s worth looking at differences and characteristics so that we don’t bucket all of them into this big single SDN category. To read the complete article, CLICK...

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Cisco ACI: The (SDN) Beat(ing) Goes On
Dec03

Cisco ACI: The (SDN) Beat(ing) Goes On

For the networking industry — which can make glaciers look like Usain Bolt at work — Cisco’s ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure, AKA Software-Defined Networking) appears to be a runaway success. SDN is networking’s version of server virtualization… on steroids, and in the six quarters that Cisco has been selling ACI (as one of its three approaches to SDN), the company has raced to more than 5,000 Nexus 9K and ACI customers, 1,100-plus ACI customers (that’s more than 100 new customers since the end of October) and almost 50 ecosystem partners. Now the company, which has made a number of ACI announcements recently, is at it again, with a flurry of new enhancements, including beefed up security and Docker support. The announcements will appeal to both N9K switch and non-N9K customers, as well as non-Cisco customers, especially those focused on cloud automation and security, said Srini Kotamraju, Director, Product Management, Cisco. Network automation is a huge opportunity, the company said. “Customers tell me that only five to ten percent of their networks are automated today,” said Soni Jiandani, SVP at Cisco, in a prepared statement. “They are eager to adopt comprehensive automation for their networks and network services through a single pane of management, while improving security for east-west traffic, multi-cloud traffic and bare metal applications in a consistent manner.” Cloud automation and security may be the low-hanging ACI/SDN fruit, but open source and containers are generating a lot of interest too, added Cisco’s Mike Cohen, Director, Product Management. “We are seeing a pretty strong shift by customers interested in open source… (and) containers”. The datacenter and enterprise “In-Use” SDN market is expected to hit $1.4 billion this year, almost double last year’s numbers. “New SDN use cases continue to emerge, and the first half of 2015 was no exception with the establishment of the software-defined enterprise WAN (SD-WAN) market,” said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., research director for data center, cloud and SDN at IHS. “The data center and enterprise LAN SDN market will be solidified by the end of 2016 as lab trials give way to live production deployments. And in 2017, SDN will move from early adopters into the hands of mainstream buyers,” he said. While Cisco’s numbers appear to put it well ahead of its branded competition, i.e. VMware NSX, the IHS data for the first half of 2015 indicate why this market is so critical to proprietary networking’s 800-pound gorilla: – bare metal switches accounted for 45% of global in-use SDN-capable Ethernet switch revenue; -white box switch vendors, as a group, are #1 in bare metal switch revenue; -Dell owns 100% of branded bare metal switch revenue;...

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Cisco: SDN (ACI) Momentum Accelerating, But…
Oct12

Cisco: SDN (ACI) Momentum Accelerating, But…

The implications of the pending Dell acquisition of EMC (and its 81% ownership of VMware) are still to be determined, but the deal will pose significant challenges for Cisco, not only for its VCE partnership and datacenter business, but also for its software-defined networking initiative. Both Dell and VMware play in the SDN space, but as one might expect from networking’s 800-pound gorilla, they aren’t in Cisco’s league. Yet. At the end of September Cisco announced that Danske Bank, the largest financial institution in Denmark, was the 1,000th customer of its SDN offering, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). That’s a pretty significant accomplishment given that ACI didn’t start shipping until midway through 2014, and only to Cisco customers with — or prepared to buy — its Nexus 9000 (N9K) switch. There were 2,650 such customers, and almost 600 of them had bought into ACI as of June, with that number almost doubling in the last quarter. VMware is claiming 700-plus customers of its software-only SDN offering, NSX. However only 15% of the 1,700 ACI/NSX users are implementing the products in production mode: 150 for ACI, according to Cisco, and 100 for NSX. The movement to ACI is accelerating, confirmed Cisco’s Ish Limkakeng, VP of Product Management. He told IT Trends & Analysis that there are now over 4,200 N9K switches installed, and they’re “growing at the same rate as our ACI numbers.” The ACI growth, which isn’t limited to N9K owners, a result of both delivering a great product and “listening to our customers and making the enhancements our early adopters have asked for.” The benefits of moving to SDN, or at least ACI, are impressive. A number of Cisco’s customers are claiming significant returns from ACI, including Symantec: -5-year ROI: 441%; -5-year total business benefits: $145 million; -average annual business benefits over 5 years with Cisco ACI: IT infrastructure cost reduction – $10.08M; risk mitigation and business productivity – $25.27M; IT staff productivity – $8.50M; -payback period: 11 months; -reduction in time of application development life cycle: 87%; and, -improved network operation staff efficiency: 79%. Other benefits included: 87% faster application development life cycle; zero unplanned Cisco ACI–related downtime; 40 times more network backbone bandwidth; and 79% more efficient network operations and engineering once fully deployed. Much like any other major technology transition, the adoption of SDN (and its carrier companion, Network Functions Virtualization or NFV) is moving slowly, but the momentum is growing. By 2020, the combined revenue impact of SDN, NFV, network virtualization and other next-generation networking initiatives will exceed $105 billion per year. As we’ve already seen with virtualization and servers, the movement to software-defined everything...

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SDN – Who, What, Why, and When (Part 1)

“SDN” is the current buzzword. Well, to be fair, “SDDC” software-defined data center) is, but SDN is still a cool kid on the block. However, who outside of Silicon Valley and the Fortune 500 companies truly knows the details of a software-defined network? To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in The Virtualization Practice...

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