Awards programs are usually a lot of work and a lot of fun. More importantly though, you can gain a lot of insight looking over dozens of awards entries.

Yesterday, the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) announced the finalists for its Ethernet Excellence Awards (I served as a judge on the panel). The winners will be announced at a dinner on November 18 at the Gaylord National in Washington, D.C.  Some big networking themes run deep in the awards, which name the top technologies, companies, and people forging tomorrow's networks with Ethernet technology. 

First up: Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are breaking into the mainstream, as we start to see the first real-world implementations of these technologies in service provdier networks. This is a wide technology bucket, but the most relevant applications are orchestration, provisioning and "service chaining," all use cases for SDN and NFV to allow service providers and network operators to more quickly deliver services to customers, with less manual interaction. 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 14:46 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications.
Keywords: MEF, Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, MPLS, Verizon, Comcast

BigPanda officially launched its IT incident management product today and announced $7 million in Series A funding from Mayfield and Sequoia.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company says it has built a platform for analyzing IT alerts and incident reports. The goal is to automate the manual processes involved with detecting, investigating and resolving IT incidents. The company says this will improve incident resolution and customer service.

Big Panda launches with some serious pedigree. Not only are top VCs Mayfield and Sequoia involved, but the company's advisors include IT and infrastructure executives from Dropbox, Splunk, Netflix, VMware and Facebook.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 13:34 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, Investing.
Keywords: Big Panda, Sequoia, Mayfield, Big Sata, Analytics, IT Alerts, Network Management

Monitoring and analytics technology will be a big part of building a more automated and adaptive computing infrastructure, as we detailed in our Future of the Software Defined Data Center report. As the cloud model for building infrastructure expands into new markets, there will be new demand for network monitoring and analytics applications.

This may is what's driving VSS Monitoring, a maker of network analysis and monitoring gear that's already a big player in large enterprise and telecom markets, to launch the Optimizer 2400 NPB, with a $20,0000 price.  The Optimizer is a Network Packet Broker (NPB) designed for enterprise networks.

NPBs are network appliances that siphon off copies of network traffic as it flows through the system, so that it can be monitored and analyzed. It's important that these devices be high-performance so that they can keep up with production traffic without a disruption.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 27, 2014 at 16:03 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN.
Keywords: Network Analysis, Network Packet Brokers, VSS Monitoring

In the era of aggressive shareholder activists, it's not much fun to be a technology company with lots of cash and slowing growth. Just ask Riverbed Technology (RVBD), the once high-flying Wide Area Network (WAN) optimization company that is now being looked over by shareholder activists and private equity dealmakers. 

Earlier in the year, hedge fund and shareholder Elliot Management got involved, first offering Riverberbed $19 per share and then later raising that to Riverbed $21 per share, but that deal has been rejected by Riverbed management. But the share price continues below that offer price and the barking shareholder activists might be getting more impatient. Is it time to drum up some more bids?

It Looks that way. Riverbed, which just announced lackluster earnings growth and outlook, might now be more willing to talk.  The company has already hired one of those "vaunted strategic advisers" to "explore options," but there are also signals of more urgency. 

This entry was posted on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 14:13 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications, Investing.
Keywords: Riverbed, WAN Optimization

EMC has bought out most of Cisco's interest in the VCE joint venture for cloud computing technology, putting another twist in the rapidly shifting technology relationships in the cloud infrastructure space. 

A deal has been speculated for months. I predicted this in August, as the EMC-VMware fanfare on EVO:RAIL and Cisco's perceived slighting at VMworld appeared to be the nail in the coffin for the companies working together. 

But here's the catch: They're not completely divorced. The press release says that VCE will be majority owned by EMC and that Cisco will retain a 10% equity interest. Cisco and VMware will continue as "strategic partners and investors."

Wall Street was unimpressed. VMware shares were pummeled 5% -- down 4.25 to $83.94 in morning trading -- reflecting fears that Cisco's diminished involvement in VCE mean more competition and potential products from Cisco.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 14:36 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Investing.
Keywords: Cisco, Vblock, VCE, EMC, VMware, Cloud Computing

This week there were a number of interesting developments in cloud infrastructure circles, including a cloud deal or two and Hewlett-Packard's new strategy to "vaporize" data centers.

First of, EMC announced on Monday that it is acquiring "cloud computing" firm Cloudscaling, which specializes in building cloud management implementations based on the OpenStack open source technology. It's not a big deal -- less than $50 million, according to sources at Bloomberg. Cloudscaling, founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, raised more than $10 million from investors including Trinity Ventures and Juniper Networks Inc.

In another announcement, HP said it has joined VMware's super futuristic EVO:RAIL iniatiative. And, at the same time, it also announced that it's in the business of vaporizing silos.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 14:34 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Investing.
Keywords: HP, EMC, Virtualization, VMware, EVO:RAIL, SDN

The Software Defined Networking (SDN) movement has a few core leaders that have been around since it sprouted from the grass-roots academic environments of Stanford University and Berkeley, where we imagine networking geeks called for revolution in nearby coffee houses. Dan Pitt, Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), is one of those people.

Though not exactly a pure revolution -- after all, SDN and open networking have already created billion-dollar startups such as Nicira -- there is still a core charged with defending its openness from the assault of darker, propietary forces. That's where Pitt and the ONF come in, guiding standards development and integration.

Pitt spent twenty years developing networking architecture, technology, standards, and products at IBM Networking Systems in North Carolina, IBM Research Zurich in Switzerland, Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, Calif;  and Bay Networks in Santa Clara, Calif., where he was vice president of the Bay Architecture Lab. Pitt became vice president of Nortel's Enterprise Solutions Technology Center, spanning nine cities on four continents. 

From 2002–2007 Pitt served as dean of the school of engineering at Santa Clara University and holder of the Sobrato Chair in Engineering. Dan received a B.S. in mathematics (magna cum laude) from Duke University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois. He has fifty publications and one patent to his credit.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 02:37 am and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Interviews.
Keywords: SDN, ONF, Dann Pitt, Cisco, OpenFlow

In a move to extend the reach and penetration of its Blue Planet management platform, optical networking vendor Cyan Inc. (CYNI) has added support for Cisco and Juniper routers.

By adding new "element adapters," Cyan's Blue Planet will be able to automate, provision, manage, and monitor Ethernet services across Cisco ASR 901, ASR 903, ASR 9000, and ME 3600 platforms as well as Juniper MX960, MX480, and MX2010 platforms. By using open standards, this beefs up Blue Planet's status as a Software Defined Networking (SDN) product by extending its functions to a huge swath of the IP routing market, which is controlled by Cisco and Juniper.

Now Cyan's optical switch customers can see the switches and routers together from within Blue Planet. Previously, Cisco and Juniper hardware required separate proprietary interfaces for configuration.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 at 16:23 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications.
Keywords: SDN, Blue Planet, Cisco, Juniper, Cyan, Optical

Software Defined Networking startup Pica8, which was named as one of the leaders in our SDN Revolution Report, has been busy lately. Last week, the company announced $12.5M in new financing. Today, it announced that it is offering a free trial version of its network operating system (OS).

With the SDN land grab on, Pica8 is stealing a strategy from Web 2.0. The strategy takes a page from the "Freemium" model of many Web applications, whereby a stripped-down free version of software is available to gain more exposure. It's a good marketing strategy to enable more people to try out SDN tools and start experimenting with their hardware from a roster of suppliers, which are listed here.  

The company's PicOS, a networking OS based on Linux, can be plugged into commodity hardware to build "bare metal"switches and routers using SDN tools such as OpenFlow and Pica8's own Open vSwitch (OVS) implementation. Pica8 says the OS is easy to install using a boot loader and automated provisioning tool called Zero-Touch Provisioning. Customers that download the trial version and want the full licensed version can later turn on a full license at any time.

Read all about the battle between SDN startups and incumbents in our exhaustive 30-page report on the market, "The SDN Revolution: An Ecosystem Report.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2014 at 14:37 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN.
Keywords: SDN, Network OS, Linux, vSwitch, OpenFlow, Bare Metal Switching

Every day we read about a massive new data breach. Today it's AT&T and Yahoo. This comes after huge security incidents at Target, Home Depot, and JP Morgan in which millions of accounts were compromised. It's clear that the era of the cloud and big data means big opportunities for the hackers. 

In today's news, AT&T is warning customers that an insider illegally accessed the personal information of an unspecified number of users, according to Threatpost. The compromised data includes Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. 

In a recent article I did, I was surprised to find that some people said that security threats aren't any worse than they use to be. I disagree. It seems like if the hackers to break into JP Morgan, Target, and AT&T in less than a year, it's worse. Nowadays, every time I fill up the gas tank and swipe my credit card, I think about an angry hacker in Russia looking for my data on the other end. 

Enter Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology, which many experts believes has the potential to change the way we deal with security threats. If you think about it, security solutions are a hodgepodge of applications, many of them linked to specific networking appliances. 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 07, 2014 at 14:05 pm and is filed under Infrastructure & SDN, Applications.
Keywords: Security, AT&T, JP Morgan, SDN
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