Lippis Report 223: An Open Approach to Network Automation

March 3rd, 2015

nick_podium2Modern day networking is labor intensive. Configuration, monitoring and change management are manual processes for the most part. In fact, at the last Open Networking User Group (ONUG) this past Fall at Credit Suisse, most IT business leaders said that one network engineer supports approximately 120 networking devices such as a router, switch, etc. Compare this to 20,000 servers that a single engineer manages at a hyper scale firm and you can see that networking needs automation. Manual networks are not helping IT business leaders who are feeling pressure from business unit managers demanding self-service IT delivery on par with cloud providers such as Amazon, Azure, etc., but without the implied loss of security, visibility and control. Case in point: at ONUG in Boston hosted by Fidelity Investments, large financial service firms showed what happens when they offer business unit managers on-demand virtual machine (VM) creation and deletion; the trend lines showed exponential growth, demand and consumption!

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Lippis Report 222: Cisco Preps ACI for General Availability: What to Expect

August 25th, 2014

nick_podium2One of the biggest networking events this August is the general availability of Cisco’s ACI or Application Centric Infrastructure. Cisco has been shipping its Nexus 9000 series of switches in what is called standalone mode, which is an ultra-fast data center Ethernet switch, since November 2013. Nexus 9000 orders tripled from 180 in Q3 to 580 at the end of Cisco’s fiscal fourth quarter. Cisco promised as part of the Nexus 9000 release that these switches can be deployed in what it calls “ACI fabric mode.” ACI fabric mode promises to reduce operational cost, increase agility and link applications to network infrastructure like never before. The manifestation of fabric mode is ACI, and it’s now entering general availability. In this Lippis Report Research Note we take a look at ACI from a point of view of what it can do for Data Center architects today.

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Lippis Report 221: HP Invests Heavy in Unified Wired and Wireless Network Infrastructure

July 28th, 2014

nick_podium2 Ever since the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, mobile computing has never been the same. In just six short years, the smartphone industry is selling nearly 500 million devices a quarter, according to Gartner, and there will be 50 billion devices, including laptops, smartphones, iPads, tablets, non-IT devices, etc., connected to wireless networks by 2020. For the past several years, BYOD or Bring Your Own Device projects have been the largest budget spends for IT departments worldwide, thanks to each user connecting up to three devices on average with Wi-Fi being the preferred wireless network service. As mobility connectivity has been on the rise, wired connections to enterprise networks are still growing, albeit at a slower pace than prior to 2010. From a network design, operations and management perspective, these networks evolved at different paces and with separate management and operational models. The networking industry has been working to unify or converge wired and wireless management to ease operations, increase security and user experience. In particular, increasing complexity or operational cost is driving the need for unified wired and wireless, in addition to the increased use of Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud computing as a more flexible IT service delivery model. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review HP’s approach to unified wired and wireless networking.

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Lippis Report 219: What Is Happening to Open Networking?

March 18th, 2014

nick_podium2It was so simple; the separation of network hardware from software through a protocol called OpenFlow would open up the networking industry by injecting innovation into a vertically integrated industry. Specialized network hardware, called routers and switches, would give way to low cost white box alternatives, built in Asia, that were centrally controlled by software running on x86 commodity hardware. The networking industry would split into three parts: those that sold data forwarding gear, controller software and network applications. Well, that was 2010, and the reality is that this model of Open Networking has not materialized in the enterprise market—perhaps in a few operator and hyperscale networks, but not the real markets: the enterprise and public sector environments. Open Networking has taken on a life of its own. Overlays or virtualized networking are coming into their own; white box solutions without OpenFlow are being piloted in the enterprise and deployed in select cloud providers and operator networks; Linux is being considered as a network operating system to enable automation and normalize management tools across compute, storage and networking. The wide area, and in particular, branch office networking is about to undergo a fundamental change, thanks to new open networking solutions entering the market that promise radically lower cost, centralized policy provisioning control and service enablement. Hardware appliances are under attack in both branch office and data centers as vendors start to offer network service virtualization or NSV. Open networking security, or the lack thereof, is now coming into focus as is the killer SDN application: IP storage. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we provide a snapshot of the fast-pace changes occurring in Open Networking.
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Lippis Report 218: ONUG vs. OpenStack, Open Compute and ONF

February 24th, 2014

Nick
A quick look at the board of directors of the Open Network User Group will make it obvious that ONUG is driven by some of the world’s biggest IT business leaders of networking technology. Leading financial, insurance, retail and logistics companies are all active members of ONUG. That alone sets it apart from the many other organizations with “open” in their name. In keeping with their goals, all ONUG events are intentionally kept to a manageable size so that members can meet their primary objective – which is to network other ONUG members.

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Lippis Report 217: It’s Network Service Virtualization in the Enterprise rather than Network Function Virtualization

February 13th, 2014

NickDuring the October 2013 Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting, the ONUG community prioritized nine use cases based upon budget development and propensity to buy. The top three use cases were open branch office networking, open overlay or network virtualization, and integrating layer 4-7 network services to eliminate appliances into overlay networks. All ONUG use cases can be found here. Of particular note is the integrating L4-7 network services ONUG use case as its main focus is the elimination of hardware appliance, be it in the branch office and data center. A knee-jerk reaction to this use case was to define it as Network Function Virtualization or NFV. But these discussions ended with the realization that NFV will not work in the enterprise market. In this Lippis Report Research Note, I explain why and introduce the term “Network Service Virtualization.”

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