Gartner released the latest iteration of their network hype cycle Monday and the Register did some rapid analysis of what it means for the market. A number of technologies near and dear to our hearts here at LightMesh are at or near the bottom: Software Defined Networking, White-Box Switches, and Network Configuration and Management Tools. In the best tradition of Eric Ries and Steve Blank disciples, we quickly got ready to pivot!
Before we fully change our focus to Programmatic Instagram Marketing (ha!), is this really the end for these technologies? Should everyone in the space just fold up their tents and come back in 5-10 years? Obviously not - these technologies are increasingly being implemented now but for the business value they offer rather than the "hype" around them.
What's up with Cloud?
OpenStack and cloud in general provide a great example of adoption and the hype cycle in action – the past year saw a number of early OpenStack innovators exit the market via acquisition and outright closure. At the same time Amazon has announced that their cloud business is even better than anyone expected. Q2 saw AWS revenues of $1.8B with 81% year on year growth!
Clearly public cloud is mature and with consolidation and greater enterprise adoption, private cloud is not far behind. To emphasize this, TD executive Graeme Peacock discussed the bank’s ambitious project to adopt a private on-premises OpenStack cloud powered by RackSpace at May’s OpenStack conference. TD is North America’s 6th largest bank by assets so transitioning 80% of their infrastructure in 5 years is an absolutely MASSIVE undertaking.
Software Defined Networking is not a fad?
Absolutely not. While SDN had been reserved for the giants of Google, Facebook and Amazon, in 2015 we are now seeing more enterprise planning and adoption projects around SDN technologies. While this is often in green-field technology build outs like hanging a VMWare NSX environment off to the side, or deploying Cisco ACI in a dev-test environment, customers are also beginning to think about transforming their legacy environments to SDN using datacenter migration and consolidation projects as the catalyst.
Most recently, AT&T's Q2 results highlighted the ongoing positive impact of their SDN project on capital spending. While not great for Ericsson and Cisco in the short term, this does begin to show that the advantages of virtualization and cloud will flow to related technologies in the network.
Theories are one thing but investors and customers want to see real results and compare the benefits against the effort required for adoption, and this is happening now.
Change is hard, slow, and expensive even when there’s a proven business case and many validated examples of success coming from its adoption. For SDN, NFV, etc it’s even worse – the theoretical case is there but the tangible successes aren’t.
With the largest enterprises now getting truly serious about adopting cloud technologies, DevOps practices and SDN, we have seen an increase in interest in better tooling, simply to deliver on the projects that they have committed to. This investment in improved tools like LightMesh not only enables tactical project success, but also installs best-practices into steady-state operations allowing them to deliver on cost efficiency and organizational agility targets that form much of the business rationale for cloud in the first place.
This Gartner Hype Cycle, following on their negative assessment of the available cloud management tools, reinforces our perspective that the rise of point-solutions without a holistic configuration management tool is what has our customers talking to us. So Ryan Holmes and everyone else at Hootsuite doesn't have to worry about us coming to eat their lunch, we're sticking with helping the world's largest enterprises Know Their Network.