Gartner Blog Network


Coolness in Networking

by Andrew Lerner  |  April 23, 2014  |  10 Comments

Gartner’s Cool Vendors in Enterprise Communications published today in which Tim Zimmerman, Joe Skorupa and myself profile four “cool” vendors including Cumulus Networks, Nuage Networks, Pica8 and Plexxi and also revisit a former “cool” vendor, Aerohive.  So what does it mean to be considered “cool”?  Certainly, it is a somewhat subjective definition as evidenced by this picture.

coolness

My definition of “cool” is rather simple:  Coolness is the ability to help customers address challenges in new and innovative ways.  These challenges could be in terms of cost, management, agility, operations, etc.

Cumulus and Pica8 focus on switching software that can be run on top of physical switches, an approach called disaggregation.  Plexxi provides a programmable and self-learning switching fabric that dynamically configures inter-connectivity via an optical backbone ring, while Nuage provides an SDN overlay solution that nicely stitches the overlay/underlay together and cleanly extends beyond a single data center.

Unlike incumbant networking vendors, these guys are unencumbered by specific margins and/or a large installed-base (to protect) which allows them to look at things in a fresh manner; ultimately enabling them to tackle long-standing network problems in new and innovative ways.

Regards, Andrew

Side note:  Contrary to popular belief, that is not me in the photo although I’ve popped a collar or two in my day and do own sweater vests… Image courtesy of http://www.maniacworld.com/four-popped-collars-cool.html

Category: networking  sdn  

Tags: aerohive  coolness  cumulus  disaggregation  nuage  overlay  pica8  plexxi  

Andrew Lerner
Research Vice President
3 years at Gartner
18 years IT Industry

Andrew Lerner is a Vice President in Gartner Research. He covers enterprise networking products, including SDN, SD-WAN, data center networking, campus networking, application delivery controllers and DDI. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Coolness in Networking


  1. […] This week, Gartner analysts Andrew Lerner, Tim Zimmerman and Joe Skorupa named Plexxi one of four “Cool” Vendors in Enterprise Communications. In Lerner’s own words, cool is defined as “the ability to help customers address challenges in new and innovative ways. These challenges could be in terms of cost, management, agility, operations, etc.” He specifically points to how Plexxi “provides a programmable and self-learning switching fabric that dynamically configures inter-connectivity via an optical backbone ring.” See Lerner’s full summary of the report here. […]

  2. In case you missed it, check out Gartner’s Cool Vendors in China which includes a write-up on networking vendor, Centec. As identified by my colleague Evan Zeng, Centec provides silicon, switches and an OS (kind of like Broadcom + Pica8) and focuses on the Chinese market.

    Cool Vendors in China, 2014
    7 May 2014 | ID: G00262471
    Link: http://www.gartner.com/docshare?resId=2732718

  3. […] focused on agility and orchestration. Availability is relatively boring compared to other “cool” stuff like SDN and disaggregation, unless you’re talking about the Netflix chaos […]

  4. […] focused on agility and orchestration. Availability is relatively boring compared to other “cool” stuff like SDN and disaggregation, unless you’re talking about the Netflix chaos […]

  5. […] focused on agility and orchestration. Availability is relatively boring compared to other “cool” stuff like SDN and disaggregation, unless you’re talking about the Netflix chaos […]

  6. […] The biggest question I have is what OS are people running on these switches?  Generically, there are two options:  Write your own or install a third-party switching OS.  If you’re Facebook, you can write your own.  However, the other option is 3P software from folks like Cumulus (who claims 1M ports),  Big Switch, and Pica8. A few months back, we profiled 2 of these 3 as cool vendors. […]

  7. […] in this research, although there are other emerging players like Nuage (who we profiled as a cool vendor last year) and […]

  8. […] vendors such as Appcito, Big Switch Networks, CloudGenix, OpenDaylight and Viptela in 2015, and Cumulus, Nuage, Pica8 and Plexxi in […]

  9. […] case you’re wondering, other cool vendors since 2014 include:  Cumulus, Pica8, Plexxi, Big Switch, CloudGenix, Viptela, VeloCloud, AppViewX, AVI Networks and Bridgeworks. Side Note:  […]

  10. […] case you’re wondering, other cool vendors since 2014 include:  Cumulus, Pica8, Plexxi, Big Switch, CloudGenix, Viptela, VeloCloud, AppViewX, AVI Networks and Bridgeworks. Side Note:  […]



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