Tom Nolle

Author Archives: Tom Nolle

Juniper’s marketing lags its technology

Like a lot of other people, I remember the Juniper ads of decades ago that used cartoons to poke fun at competitors. It was in-your-face marketing, and it seemed to pay off for Juniper in visibility.Then they got quiet, and while Juniper continued to innovate at the product level, they didn’t make news like they used to. Then they held their Nov. 2 analyst event, and they got in their competitors’ faces again. Why, and how?The why is related to a principle of marketing I’ve talked about for decades: trajectory management. All sales processes these days aim at converting “suspects” into “customers” through a series of steps. First you get mentioned in tech news articles and analyst briefs. Second, those who see those mentions go to your website for more information, which leads them to the third step—a request to talk to a salesperson. In-your-face marketing gets good ink, and Juniper got more coverage of its event than it’s gotten for anything else in years.To read this article in full, please click here

Juniper’s marketing lags its technology

Like a lot of other people, I remember the Juniper ads of decades ago that used cartoons to poke fun at competitors. It was in-your-face marketing, and it seemed to pay off for Juniper in visibility.Then they got quiet, and while Juniper continued to innovate at the product level, they didn’t make news like they used to. Then they held their Nov. 2 analyst event, and they got in their competitors’ faces again. Why, and how?The why is related to a principle of marketing I’ve talked about for decades: trajectory management. All sales processes these days aim at converting “suspects” into “customers” through a series of steps. First you get mentioned in tech news articles and analyst briefs. Second, those who see those mentions go to your website for more information, which leads them to the third step—a request to talk to a salesperson. In-your-face marketing gets good ink, and Juniper got more coverage of its event than it’s gotten for anything else in years.To read this article in full, please click here

Wacky as Facebook’s metaverse sounds, enterprises will have to deal with it

In our modern world, “metaverse” is the term applied to an artificial reality, a virtual world inhabited by avatars that represent real people and perhaps other AI virtual beings, too.What makes the concept relevant to enterprises are the Facebook decision to embrace metaverse as the future, the fact that others like Microsoft are following along, and the promise that it could redefine meetings, sales calls, support, and even work overall. Network planners would then have to consider its impact on traffic and connectivity.[Get regularly scheduled insights by signing up for Network World newsletters.] One big get-it-approved problem with the metaverse for enterprise is likely to be security. Facebook has had a lot of recent bad press for favoring profit over the welfare of its users, and that sort of thing sets compliance officers a-tingle, so self-hosting might be a solution. Executing that is partly a software issue and partly a network issue.The former, we can assume, would be handled by open-source development arising out of the interest Facebook has created. The latter isn’t as easy to dismiss.To read this article in full, please click here

4 questions that get the answers you need from IT vendors

It’s the time of year when most enterprises are involved in a more-or-less-formal technology review cycle, as a preparatory step for next year’s budgeting. They’ve done this for decades, and it’s interesting to me that in any given year, enterprises share roughly three of their top five priorities. It’s more interesting that over three-quarters of enterprises carry over at least two of their top five priorities for multiple years. Why aren’t they getting addressed? They say their top problem is an “information gap.”Buyers adopt network technologies that improve their business, not just their network. They have to justify spending, particularly spending on some new technology that someone inside or outside has suggested. That means that they have to understand how it will improve operations, how they’ll deploy it, and what the cost will be. To do this for a new technology, they need information on how that improvement would happen—and they say they’re not getting it.To read this article in full, please click here

4 questions that get the answers you need from IT vendors

It’s the time of year when most enterprises are involved in a more-or-less-formal technology review cycle, as a preparatory step for next year’s budgeting. They’ve done this for decades, and it’s interesting to me that in any given year, enterprises share roughly three of their top five priorities. It’s more interesting that over three-quarters of enterprises carry over at least two of their top five priorities for multiple years. Why aren’t they getting addressed? They say their top problem is an “information gap.”Buyers adopt network technologies that improve their business, not just their network. They have to justify spending, particularly spending on some new technology that someone inside or outside has suggested. That means that they have to understand how it will improve operations, how they’ll deploy it, and what the cost will be. To do this for a new technology, they need information on how that improvement would happen—and they say they’re not getting it.To read this article in full, please click here

4 questions that get the answers you need from IT vendors

It’s the time of year when most enterprises are involved in a more-or-less-formal technology review cycle, as a preparatory step for next year’s budgeting. They’ve done this for decades, and it’s interesting to me that in any given year, enterprises share roughly three of their top five priorities. It’s more interesting that over three-quarters of enterprises carry over at least two of their top five priorities for multiple years. Why aren’t they getting addressed? They say their top problem is an “information gap.”Buyers adopt network technologies that improve their business, not just their network. They have to justify spending, particularly spending on some new technology that someone inside or outside has suggested. That means that they have to understand how it will improve operations, how they’ll deploy it, and what the cost will be. To do this for a new technology, they need information on how that improvement would happen—and they say they’re not getting it.To read this article in full, please click here

The search for the optimum network: Don’t let IT vendors sell you on lock-in

How should an enterprise pick products to build its network? Do they look for the best of each product category, knowing this will increase both integration issues and finger-pointing? Do they select the best vendor overall, knowing that this will invite vendor lock-in and compromises in each product category?This issue is as old as networking, and we’ve still not resolved it. How do enterprises decide when to add a vendor in hopes of getting the best technology, and protect themselves from the consequences?SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors Every network vendor wants to be your only vendor. No network vendor wants to accept responsibility for problems, and most don’t even want to work hard to find out who’s causing them. Big network-equipment vendors have not only fallen behind on innovation, they work to actively stifle it, fearing it could damage their incumbent position. These are the views of enterprises, whether they favor single-vendor networks or best-of-breed.To read this article in full, please click here

Tailoring SD-WAN to fit your needs

SD-WAN resources What is SD-WAN and what does it mean for networking, security, cloud? 10 SD-WAN features you're probably not using but should be SD-WAN may be the key to smart network services SD-WAN and analytics: A marriage made for the new normal Native SD-WAN monitoring tools are not enough, survey says Why is it that we always seem to think that we can adopt a technology that has seriously revolutionary pieces by just buying it and hooking it up? This, despite the undeniable fact that everything in tech is getting more sophisticated, more complex? Software-defined WAN is a technology like that, and because all SD-WANs aren’t the same, or even close to the same, you’ll have to do some digging to make SD-WAN your own.To read this article in full, please click here

Private 5G: Tips on how to implement it, from enterprises that already have

We hear a lot about private 5G, meaning 5G networks deployed and owned by individual enterprises. A lot online, anyway; of 177 enterprises I've talked with this year, only three said they even knew how to build a private 5G network, and these three learned by doing it. The three discovered an important, but usually unrecognized, question, which is, “What do I it run on?” 5G resources What is 5G? Fast wireless technology for enterprises and phones How 5G frequency affects range and speed Private 5G can solve some problems that Wi-Fi can’t Private 5G keeps Whirlpool driverless vehicles rolling 5G can make for cost-effective private backhaul CBRS can bring private 5G to enterprises One reason private 5G gets a lot of attention is that vendors have to talk about something, and one choice is to say something exciting and, well, maybe less than factual. The other is to say something factual and utterly uninteresting. Guess which gets said? The three enterprises that built private 5G networks had to educate themselves with a material from a variety of sources, including the O-RAN alliance, and one of the three characterized this as learning another language, with a dozen or Continue reading

Private 5G: Tips on how to implement it, from enterprises that already have

We hear a lot about private 5G, meaning 5G networks deployed and owned by individual enterprises. A lot online, anyway; of 177 enterprises I've talked with this year, only three said they even knew how to build a private 5G network, and these three learned by doing it. The three discovered an important, but usually unrecognized, question, which is, “What do I it run on?” 5G resources What is 5G? Fast wireless technology for enterprises and phones How 5G frequency affects range and speed Private 5G can solve some problems that Wi-Fi can’t Private 5G keeps Whirlpool driverless vehicles rolling 5G can make for cost-effective private backhaul CBRS can bring private 5G to enterprises One reason private 5G gets a lot of attention is that vendors have to talk about something, and one choice is to say something exciting and, well, maybe less than factual. The other is to say something factual and utterly uninteresting. Guess which gets said? The three enterprises that built private 5G networks had to educate themselves with a material from a variety of sources, including the O-RAN alliance, and one of the three characterized this as learning another language, with a dozen or Continue reading

Are enterprises loving managed services?

There's a lot in networking that never measures up to the hype, so maybe it's good that this is balanced sometimes by areas where the hype falls far short of reality. Managed services is one of those things.It always seems to be bubbling just below the surface of attention, and yet it may be the most important topic in networking today. I had a chance to chat with 59 enterprises that were involved with or launching managed-service projects and another 118 who had no current managed-service projects. I'll summarize what I found here.SD-WAN buyers guide: Key questions to ask vendors All of these enterprises had been aware of managed services for at least 20 years, and all but 31 had considered them at one point or another. Interestingly, 141 of the 177 total enterprises believe that MPLS VPNs are a form of managed service, and when I dug into this, the response was that “managed services” are about reducing the user's management burden. VPNs do that, so they're a sort-of-managed service.To read this article in full, please click here

Is your network AI as smart as you think?

Network-operations types tell me that, in the future, AI is going to manage their networks. They also tell me that their vendors told them that very same thing. The good news is that’s sort-of-true. The bad news is the same; with emphasis on the qualifier “sort-of”. To get the most from AI network management, you have to navigate out of that hazy “sort-of” zone, and you do it by thinking about ants and farmers.Ants can build wonderfully complex anthills, with all manner of interconnecting tunnels and levels. Do the worker ants have some mighty engineer-ant directing this process? Nope. Each of them is single-mindedly performing its own simple task, and instincts program them. There is in fact an ant-engineer, but it’s their own DNA that’s organized their work to accomplish the goal. That’s a bit like how most network AI works.To read this article in full, please click here

Hybrid cloud success: 5 things to forget about, 4 things to remember

OK, let's say you're a CIO who's promoted hybrid cloud computing in your company. Then along came all these news stories that call into question the whole notion of cloud economies. Do you send some covert IT team to block the news from the CFO's computer, or do you deal with it? Hopefully, the latter.I've examined audits of over four-dozen cloud projects, and the good news is that most cloud applications make the business case. The bad news is that a lot, a worrisome lot, don’t. If you want yours to succeed, there are some strategies that will help, in the form of five “forgets” and four “remembers”.To read this article in full, please click here

White boxes in the enterprise: Why it’s not crazy

If you’re an enterprise CIO, CFO, or network operations type, you’ve probably been reading about how this service provider or that cloud provider have saved up to 50% on network equipment by using generic “white-box” technology instead of proprietary routers and switches.  It’s hard not to wonder whether your own network budget could buy twice as much gear, and what projects might now meet their business case.  Could enterprises get in on the white-box revolution?  Maybe, if they can address the issues that even service providers and cloud providers have already faced, and in some cases been bitten by.Compatibility The first issue is finding the hardware and software. White-box hardware needs software, either an all-inclusive “network operating system” that provides all the features you need, or an operating system plus a separate routing/switching package. The software can’t just be shoveled onto something and run; it has to match the hardware.  In some cases, the matching process is facilitated through the same sort of drivers found on PCs and servers, but not all hardware has a driver suitable for all software.  Pick a white box and you may not find software you like for it. Continue reading

Sparking the next cycle of IT spending

Who, in the entire IT space, wouldn’t like to see an uptick in tech spending?  Enterprises would see new purchases easier to make, vendors would make more money, and technologists in general would have a new sense of excitement and mission.  It seems like we’ve been stuck in a do-more-for-less rut, but the past offers us some evidence of how we could get out of it.If you were to plot of the growth in enterprise IT spending versus GDP growth for the US over the entire life of information technology, you’d see not a hockey stick but a series of peaks and valleys.  You would see that there are three clear periods or cycles where IT spending has significantly outstripped GDP growth, and that we’ve been in a trough ever since the last one ended in about 2000.  We’ve never had two decades pass without another cycle, so what’s wrong?  Answer: Nothing’s driving one now.To read this article in full, please click here

Why the cloud will never eat the data center

Sometimes it’s hard to see gradual changes in technology paradigms because they’re gradual.  Sometimes it helps to play “Just suppose…” and see where it leads. So, just suppose that the cloud did what some radical thinkers say, and “absorbed the network”. That’s sure an exciting tag line, but is this even possible, and how might it come about?Companies are already committed to a virtual form of networking for their WAN services, based on VPNs or SD-WAN, rather than building their own WANs from pipes and routers.  That was a big step, so what could be happening to make WANs even more virtual, to the point where the cloud could subsume them?  It would have to be a data-center change.To read this article in full, please click here

Why the cloud will never eat the data center

Sometimes it’s hard to see gradual changes in technology paradigms because they’re gradual.  Sometimes it helps to play “Just suppose…” and see where it leads. So, just suppose that the cloud did what some radical thinkers say, and “absorbed the network”. That’s sure an exciting tag line, but is this even possible, and how might it come about?Companies are already committed to a virtual form of networking for their WAN services, based on VPNs or SD-WAN, rather than building their own WANs from pipes and routers.  That was a big step, so what could be happening to make WANs even more virtual, to the point where the cloud could subsume them?  It would have to be a data-center change.To read this article in full, please click here

Why the cloud will never eat the data center

Sometimes it’s hard to see gradual changes in technology paradigms because they’re gradual.  Sometimes it helps to play “Just suppose…” and see where it leads. So, just suppose that the cloud did what some radical thinkers say, and “absorbed the network”. That’s sure an exciting tag line, but is this even possible, and how might it come about?Companies are already committed to a virtual form of networking for their WAN services, based on VPNs or SD-WAN, rather than building their own WANs from pipes and routers.  That was a big step, so what could be happening to make WANs even more virtual, to the point where the cloud could subsume them?  It would have to be a data-center change.To read this article in full, please click here

How to avoid the network-as-a-service shell game

I can’t tell you how many times one of my clients or contacts has complained about the difficulties associated with getting network-budget approval. If I’d never met a CFO in person, the description these people gave me would have led me to expect something like a troll or a zombie, bent on eating projects and maybe people, too. Do we wear garlic when we visit the CFO, or maybe do a chant before the meeting, or might there be a more practical approach?CFOs aren’t just trying to mess up a good technology project (at least most of the time), they’re trying to validate two basic financial rules that govern technology procurements.  Rule One is that any project must advance a company’s financial position and not hurt it. That seems logical, but it’s often difficult to assess just what the return on investment (ROI) of any project is.  Rule Two is that you don’t want to buy equipment that you’ll have to replace before it’s been fully depreciated. The useful life of something should be at least as long as the financial life as set by tax laws.To read this article in full, please click here

Microsoft’s Nuance deal might trigger a new IT spending wave

OK, help me understand this. Microsoft just spent almost $20 billion to buy Nuance, the company that supplies the popular Dragon speech-to-text tool. Microsoft already has speech-to-text available in Windows 10 and through Azure, and even a partnership with Nuance. Nuance’s single big jump in stock price in its history coincides with Covid and WFH, which is now (hopefully) passing. Nuance revenue boom? Apparently, ending. The Dragon product? Incremental to Microsoft’s current position. Health care vertical? Interesting, but not a cash cow.To read this article in full, please click here