Blog post

Look Beyond Network Vendors for Network Innovation

By Andrew Lerner | February 06, 2018 | 1 Comment

NetworkingJust PublishedCulture

If you are responsible for an enterprise network, then you probably know there is a lot of manual CLI-based operations occurring. Not surprisingly, the top networking challenge our clients face is improving agility, and this has remained true over the past couple years.

So why is this the case?  Other disciplines in IT have evolved over the years to be more programmatic and automated.  Well, there are several factors at play, but a really big one is that established networking vendors have not led their customers towards operational innovation.

However, there is innovation around network operations occurring. It is being generated and driven into the market by hyperscale web providers – not network vendors (and also the open source community). While conventional wisdom is that hyperscaler networking has no relevance to us “regular folks” in the enterprise, there is tangible applicability. We just published a research note on this topic:  Look Beyond Network Vendors for Network Innovation. In honor of hyperscale web operators like Twitter who are creating network ops innovation, I will attempt to summarize the research in 10 tweets (the old-school 140 character kind):

  1. established network vendors often position and market themselves as “trusted advisors” to their customers and customers rely heavily on them
  2. established network vendors have an inherent bias toward sales, which are often not aligned with maximizing network operations innovation
  3. network vendors overhype even minor feature enhancements as “innovative,” to create the perception that they’re delivering innovation
  4. although networking vendors bear a large responsibility for the lack of network operation innovation, it is not 100% their fault
  5. many network technicians are more loyal to their network vendor than to their employers
  6. if your enterprise can mimic just 1-10% of hyperscale practices (low-hanging fruit), you can achieve dramatic improvements
  7. we recommend that enterprises shift investments away from premium networking products toward their existing network personnel
  8. organizations must take it on themselves (versus relying on networking vendors) to create innovation around network operations
  9. pick how you want to manage your data center network first, then pick the vendor/products that can slot into that decision
  10. if you have the right people with the right skill sets, you can improve the agility and efficiency of your data center network, regardless of switches or vendor

….And one extra, because you should always give 110%

  • Innovation in network operations is being created and driven into the market by hyperscale web providers — not network vendors.

Here is the full Research link (behind the Gartner PayWall): Look Beyond Network Vendors for Network Innovation

To support digital business, infrastructure and operations leaders responsible for networking must transform their data center networks from fragile to agile. This demands innovation, which is being driven by large network operators, such as cloud providers, rather than established network vendors. Published: 23 Jan 2018 

Regards, Andrew





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1 Comment

  • Andrew,
    This note is very well written and captures the essence of market disruption. I would add that although the first movers to network innovation were web companies, the Service Providers have embraced Open Source significantly and gaining speed of innovation from community development in projects like ONAP, also supported by Vendors jointly.