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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Anticipating RSA 2015

The annual security geek-fest known as the RSA Security Conference is just 2 weeks away. Alas, I remember when it was a cozy event that attracted a few thousand visitors and focused on esoteric security technologies like cryptography, deep packet inspection, and malware detection heuristics. As for 2015, I expect at least 25,000 attendees spanning keynote presentations, show floors, pervasive hospitality suites and a constant barrage of hokey themed cocktail parties. To read the complete article, CLICK...

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Cisco: Where We Are (Part 2of3)
Dec17

Cisco: Where We Are (Part 2of3)

SAN JOSE: The IT industry has weathered a lot of changes over the last 30 years, many of them either pioneered – or at least cashed in on – by Cisco Systems, including switches, routers and converged systems. The history of Cisco is market transitions, Chairman and CEO John Chambers told a group of journalists and analysts during a three-day Cisco-thon. “We see around corners… we see the things 3, 5, 10 years ahead of the opportunity.” While the 30-year-old remains networking’s 800-pound gorilla, and has captured the lion’s share of the surging converged infrastructure market – some combination of servers, storage and/or networking – it has been active in a variety of other segments, including analytics, cloud, collaboration and security. While Chambers called data analytics the “one area we were missing”, he added that the company has been heavily involved in analytics for many years, but the Internet of Everything, which the company has been calling a $19 trillion opportunity by 2020, requires a new approach, bringing the analytics to the edge where most of the data resides. The key is the edge, where the analytics goes, he said. However IoE and big data analytics (AKA Cisco Connected Analytics) are Cisco’s future (i.e. Part 3). According to company executives, Cisco’s today includes the usual networking suspects, as well as a variety of other segments, including security. “We have security as the number one, number two, number three, number four concern for all of our customers,” said Chuck Robbins, SVP Worldwide Field Operations. Just in case the 25% revenue jump last quarter didn’t indicate just how important Cisco thinks security is, IDC just reported that Cisco hung on to its lead in the security appliance market, growing its share 2.8 points to 18.7% of revenues, well ahead of second-place Check Point and more than twice the revenues of third-place Palo Alto Networks. The company also announced its intent to acquire Neohapsis, a privately held, Chicago-based security advisory company providing risk management, compliance, cloud, application, mobile, and infrastructure security solutions to Fortune 500 customers. Cisco’s key focus is addressing customers’ security issues, said Marty Roesch, Vice President/Chief Architect, Security Business Group/Sourcefire CTO, but solving them is more of an aspirational goal. “Over the last decade we’ve seen the industrialization of hacking.” They’re really getting professional in how they attack, with QA testing and even guarantees, he said. According to Ponemon data, the average cost of a breach in 2014 is $5.4 million per incident, and in a recent Cisco survey, 100% of the sample was compromised. The good news, said Roesch, is that means there is a huge opportunity in...

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Cisco: Where We Are (Part 1of3)
Dec16

Cisco: Where We Are (Part 1of3)

SAN JOSE: Celebrating its 30th anniversary – featuring music from the ’80s and birthday cupcakes – Cisco Systems also hosted journalists and analysts for a three-day deep dive on who they are today, where they came from, and where they intend to go, including a significant extension of their analytics capabilities. Ultimately the customers will decide if their bread-and-butter switching and routing business will continue to fuel their new-and-or-expanded aspirations in cloud, mobility, security (including the just-announced Neohapsis acquisition), software-everything, the Internet of Everything and Big Data, but if their track record – including its runaway success in converged systems – is any indication, then look for them to continue to be a dominant vendor for the foreseeable future. Cisco is one of the most innovative companies, not only in networking, but also the broader IT market, noted analyst Zeus Kerravala in a recent column. From the Massbus-Ethernet Interface Subsystem, an interface card made for DEC computers, to the Catalyst 5000 switch, Nexus 7000, voice-over-IP, telepresence, Unuified Computing System (UCS, AKA converged systems), Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI, AKA SDN), Fast IT and a dominant position in a broad range of IT certifications, the company has largely flourished as the IT industry prospered. The history of Cisco is market transitions, said Chairman and CEO John Chambers. “We see around corners… we see the things 3, 5, 10 years ahead of the opportunity.” While revenues were flat and net income down slightly for its last quarter, Cisco had plenty of positives to point to, including: -enterprise routing: top vendor in the enterprise router market, which grew 8% in 3Q14 from 2Q14, to $934 million; the enterprise router unit shipments fared better, increasing 10% sequentially and 6% year over-year; -service provider routing: market-share leader for the service provider router market, and together with Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks, and Huawei Technologies accounted for over 94% of third quarter revenue; -WLAN: Wireless LAN market grew 8% in the third quarter 2014 versus the year-ago period, Enterprise-class 802.11ac-based radio access points grew 40% quarter-over-quarter, and the top three vendors in the combined Enterprise-Class and Outdoor Mesh Nodes category were Cisco, Aruba Networks and Ruckus Wireless; -storage networking: number one in combined FC and FCoE revenues, and FC Modular share, while the FC Fixed share grew 8% year-over-year; -services: Cisco Services’ revenue increased for the 46th quarter in a row, up 4.5% on a year-to-year basis, to $2.8 billion in 3Q14, and now accounts for 30% of total Cisco revenues, the second largest revenue contributor to Cisco Systems; -cloud: along with Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, and Google, Cisco was rated a top  cloud service provider (CSP) for the...

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