Showing posts with label Network Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Network Management. Show all posts

Monday, June 15, 2015

Redcentric Uses Advanced Configuration Database to Focus Massive Merger Across Multiple Networks

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect discussion on the necessity of planning in attempting to merge data and systems across disparate operations.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing sponsored discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people's lives.

Gardner
Once again, we're focusing on how companies are adapting to the new style of IT to improve IT performance, gain new insights and deliver better user experiences, as well as better overall business results.

Our next innovation case study interview explores how Redcentric PLC in the UK has tackled a major network management project due to a business merger. We'll hear how Redcentric used advanced configuration database approaches from HP to scale some 10,000 devices across two disparate companies and managed them into a single system.

To learn more about how two major networks became merged successfully, we're joined by Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric in Harrogate, UK. Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Edward.

Edward Jackson: Hello.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit about your company and this merger. What two companies came together, and how did that prove to be a complicated matter when it comes to network management?
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Jackson: The two companies coming together were InTechnology and Redcentric. Redcentric bought InTechnology in 2013. Effectively, they were reasonably separate in terms of their setup. Redcentric had three separate organizations, they had already acquired Maxima and Hot Chilli. And the requirement was to move their network devices and ITSM platform base onto the HP monitoring and ITSM platforms in InTechnology.

It’s an ongoing process, but it’s well on the way and we've been pretty successful so far in doing that.

Gardner: And what kind of companies are these? Tell us about your organization, the business, rather than just the IT?

Jackson
Jackson: We're a managed service providers (MSPs), voice, data, storage, networks, and cloud. You name it, and we pretty much deliver it and sell it as part of our managed portfolio..

Gardner: So being good at IT is not just good for you internally; it's really part and parcel of your business.

Jackson: It's critical. We have to deliver it and we have to manage it as well. So it's 100 percent critical to the business.

Gardner: Tell us how you go about something like this, Edward, when you have a big merger, when you have all these different, disparate devices that support networks. How do you tackle that? How do you start the process?

Data cleansing

Jackson: The first phase is to look at the data and see what we've got and then start to do some data cleansing. We had to migrate data from three service desks to the InTechnology network, and to the InTechnology ITSM system. You need to look at all the service contracts. You need to also look at all the individual components that make up those contracts, and effectively all the configuration items (CIs), and then your looking at a rather large migration project.

Initially, we started to migrate the customer and the contact information. Then, slowly, we started to re-provision devices from the Redcentric side to the InTechnology Managed Services (IMS) network and load it into our HP management platforms.

We currently manage over 11,000 devices. They are from multiple types of vendors and technologies. InTechnology was pretty much a Cisco shop, whereas at Redcentric, we're looking at things like Palo Alto, Brocade, Citrix load balancers and other different types of solutions. So it's everything from session border controllers down to access points.

It was a relatively challenging time in terms of being able to look at the different types of technology and then be able to manage those. Also, we've automated incidents from Operations Manager to Service Manager and then notifying customers directly that there is a potential issue ontheir service. So it's been a rather large piece of work.

Gardner: Was there anything in hindsight that you did at InTechnology vis-à-vis the data about your network and devices that made this easier? Did Redcentric have that same benefit of that solid database, the configuration information? In doing this, what did you wish you had done, or someone else had done, better before that would have made it easier to accomplish?
It was a relatively challenging time in terms of being able to look at the different types of technology and then be able to manage those.

Jackson: Unfortunately, the data on the Redcentric side of the business wasn’t quite as clean as it was on the InTechnology side. It was held in lots of differnet sources, from network shared drives to Wiki pages. It all had to be collated. Redcentric had another three service desks. We had to extract all the data out of them as well. The service desks didn’t really contain any CI information either. So we had to collate together the CI information along with the contacts and customers.

It was a rather mammoth task. Then, we had to load it into our CRM tool, which then has a direct connection automatically using Web Services and into Service Manager. So it initially creates organizations and contacts.

We had a template for our CIs. If they were a server CI or a network CI, it would be added to a spreadsheet, and would use HP Connect-IT to load into Service Manager. It basically automatically created CIs against the customer and the contacts that were already loaded by our CRM tool.

Gardner: Is there anything now moving forward as a combined company, or in the process of becoming increasingly combined, that these due diligence efforts around network management and configuration management will allow you to do?

Perhaps you're able to drive more services into your marketplace for your customers or make modernization moves towards perhaps software-defined networking or other trends that are afoot. So now that you are into this, you are doing your due diligence, how does that set you up to move forward?

New opportunity

Jackson: It opens up a new sphere of opportunity. We were pretty much a Cisco shop, but now we have obviously opened up to a lot more elements and technologies that we actively manage.

We have a lot of software-based type of firewalls and load balancers that we didn’t previously have -- session border controllers, etc and voice products that we didn’t deliver previously -- that we can deliver now due to the fact that we've opened up the network to be able to monitor and manage pretty much anything.

Gardner: Any words of advice for other organizations that may have been resisting making these moves. You were forced to do it across the board with the merger. Do you have any advice that you would offer in terms of doing network management and modernization sooner rather than later, other than the fact that people might just think good enough is good enough, or if it's not broken, don’t fix it?

Jackson: When you're looking at a challenge like this, you have to make sure you do your due diligence first. It’s down to planning, an "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" kind of thing, and it’s very true.
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You need to get all the information. You need to make sure that you normalize it and sanitize it before you load it. The clich√© is garbage in, garbage out, so there’s no point in putting bad information into a system once again.

We have a good set of clean data now across the board. We literally have 150,000 CIs in our CMDB. So it’s not an insignificant CMDB by any stretch of the imagination. And we know that the data from the Redcentric side of the business is now clean and accurate.

Gardner: How about proving this to the business? For MSPs it might not be as critical, but for other enterprises, this might be a bit more of a challenge to translate these technical benefits into financial or economic benefits to their leadership. Any thoughts about metrics of success that you've been able to define that would fit into a return on investment (ROI) or more of an economic model? How do you translate network management proficiency into dollars and cents or pounds or euros?

Jackson: It’s pretty difficult to quantify in a monetary sense. Probably the best way of quantifying the success of the project has been the actual level of support that customers have been given and the level of satisfaction that the customers now have. They're very, very happy with the level of support that we have now achieving due to Redcentrics ITSM and business service management (BSM) systems. I think, going forward, it will only increase the level of support that we can provide our customers.

As I said, It's quite difficult to quantify in a monetary sense. However, when churn rates are now as low as 4 percent, you can basically say that you're doing something good.

Fundamental to the business

In terms of things like the CIs themselves, the CI is fundamental to the business, because it describes the whole of the service, all the services that we offer our customers. If that’s not right, then the support that we give the customer can’t be right either.

You need to give the guys on support the kind of information they need to be able to support the service. Customer satisfaction is ever increasing in terms of what we are able to offer the migrated customers.

Gardner: How about feedback from your help desk, your support, and remediation of people. Do they find that with this data in place, with it cleansed, and with it complete that they're able to identify where problems exist perhaps better, faster, and easier. Do they recognize whether there is a network problem or a workload support problem, the whole help desk benefit. Anything to offer there?
The CI is fundamental to the business, because it describes the whole of the service, all the services that we offer our customers. If that’s not right, then the support that we give the customer can’t be right either.

Jackson: About 80 percent of the tickets raised in the organization are raised through our management platform, monitoring and performance capacity monitoring. We can pretty much identify within a couple of minutes where the network error is. This all translates into tickets being auto raised in our service management platform.

Additionally, within a few minutes of an outage or incident we can have an affected customer list prepared. We have fields that are defined in Service Manager CI’s that will actually give us information regarding what devices are affected and what they are connected to in terms of an end to end service.

We run a customer report against this, and it will give you a list of customers, a list of key contacts and primary contacts. You can convert this into an email. So for a network outage, within a few minutes we can email the customer, create an incident, create related interactions to that incident, and the customer is notified that there is an issue.

Gardner: That’s the sort of brand reinforcement and service quality that many organizations are seeking. So that's enviable, I'm sure.

Is there any products or updates that could make your job even easier going forward?

Jackson: We're looking at a couple of things. One of them is HP Propel, which is a piece of software that you can hook into pretty much anything you really want. For example, if you have a few disparate service desks, you can have a veneer over the top. They'll look all the same to the customers. They'll have like an identical GUI, but the technology behind it could be very different.
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It gives you the ability then to hook into anything, such as HP Operations Orchestration, Service Manager, Knowledge Management, or even Smart Analytics, which is another area that we are quite keen on looking at. I think that’s going to revolutionize the service desk. It would be very, very beneficial forRedcentric..

There are also things like data mining. This would be beneficial and also help the auto creation of knowledge articles going forward and giving remedial action to incidents and interactions.

Gardner: Very good. I'm afraid we will have to leave it there. We've been learning about how Redcentric has used advanced configuration database approaches from HP to scale thousands of devices across two disparate networks and create a single entity due to a merger and an acquisition.

I'd like to thank our guest, Edward Jackson, Operational System Support Manager at Redcentric in the UK. Thanks so much, Edward.

Jackson: Thank you.

Gardner: And thank you to our audience for joining this special new style of IT discussion. We've explored and discovered solid evidence from early enterprise adopters of how big data changes everything, for IT, for businesses, for governments, and as well as for you and me, and we've seen how even in the realm of network management big data and analytics is a huge topic.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HP-sponsored discussions. Thanks again for listening and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app for iOS or Android. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect discussion on the necessity of planning in attempting to merge data and systems across disparate operations. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2015. All rights reserved.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

HP Network Management Advances Heighten Performance While Reducing Total Costs for Nordic Telco TDC

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how HP network management tools help companies adapt to the new style of IT to deliver better user experiences.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the HP Discover Podcast Series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing sponsored discussion on IT innovation and how it’s making an impact on people’s lives.

Gardner
Once again, we’re focusing on how companies are adapting to the new style of IT to improve IT performance and deliver better user experiences, and business results. This time, we’re coming to you directly from the HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona.

We’re here the week of December 9 to learn directly from IT and business leaders alike how big data, mobile, and cloud, along with converged infrastructure are all supporting their goals.

Our next innovation case study interview highlights how TDC is using network-management improvements to better manage and get better performance from their networks across several Nordic countries. To explain how they’re doing that, we’re joined by Lars Niklasson, the Senior Consultant at TDC in Stockholm. Welcome, Lars.

Lars Niklasson: Thank you.

Gardner: First of all, tell us about TDC, what you do, and how large your installations are.

Niklasson: TDC is an operator in the Nordic region, where we have a network covering Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. In Sweden, we’re also an integrator and have a quite big consultant role in Sweden.

Gardner: And you have a number of main businesses in your organization. There’s TDC Solutions and mobile. There’s even television and some other hosting. Explain for us how large your organization is. It sounds quite big.

Niklasson
Niklasson: Yeah, in Sweden we’re around 800 people, and the whole TDC group is almost 10,000 people.

Gardner: So it’s obviously a very significant network to support this business and deliver the telecommunication services. Maybe you could define your network for us.

Niklasson: It's quite big, over 50,000 devices, and everything is monitored of course. It’s a state-of-the-art network.

Gardner: When you have so many devices to track, so many types of layers of activity and levels of network operations, how do you approach keeping track of that and making sure that you’re not only performing well, but performing efficiently?

Niklasson: Many years ago, we implemented Network Node Manager (NNM) and we have several network operating centers in all countries using NNM. When HP released different smart plug-ins, we started to implement those too for the different areas that they support, such as quality assurance, traffic, and so on.

Gardner: So you’ve been using HP for your network management and HP Network Management Center for some time, and it has of course evolved over the years. What are some of the chief attributes that you like or requirements that you have for network operations, and why has the HP product been so strong for you?

Quick and easy

Niklasson: One thing is that it has to be quick and easy to manage. We have lots of changes all the time, especially in Sweden, when a customer comes. And in Sweden, we’re monitoring end customers’ networks.

It's also very important to be able to integrate it with the other systems that we have. So we can, for example, tell which service-level agreement (SLA) a particular device has and things like that. NNM makes this quite efficient.

Gardner: One of the things that I’ve heard people struggle with is the amount of data that’s generated from networks that then they need to be able to sift through and discover anomalies. Is there something about visualization or other ways of digesting so much data that appeals to you?

Niklasson: NNM is quite good at finding the root cause. You don’t get very many incidents when something happens. If I look back at other products and older versions, there were lots and lots of incidents and alarms. Now, I find it quite easy to manage and configure NNM so it's monitoring the correct things and listening to the correct traps and so on.

Gardner: TDC uses network management capabilities and also sells it. They also provide it with their telecom services. How have you experienced the use in the field? Do any of your customers also manage their own networks and how has this been for your consumers of network services?

Niklasson: We’re also an HP partner in selling NNM to end customers. Part of my work is helping customers implement this in their own environment. Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to do that. They buy the service from us, and we monitor the network. It’s for different reasons. One could be security, and they don’t allow us to access the network remotely. They prefer to have it in-house, and I help them with these projects.
Now, I find it quite easy to manage and configure NNM so it's monitoring the correct things and listening to the correct traps.

Gardner: Lars, looking to the future, are there any particular types of technology improvements that you would like to see or have you heard about some of the roadmaps that HP has for the whole Network Management Center Suite? What interests you in terms of what's next?

Niklasson: I would say two things. One is the application visibility in the network, where we can have some of that with traffic that’s cleaner, but it's still NetFlow-based. So I’m interested in seeing more deep inspection of the traffic and also more virtualization of the virtual environments that we have.

Gardner: All right. I think that’s about all we have time for. I’d really like to thank you for your time. We have been here with Lars Niklasson. He is the Senior Consultant at TDC in Stockholm. Thank you so much.

Niklasson: Thank you.

Gardner: And I’d also like to thank our audience for joining us for this special new style of IT discussion coming to you directly from the HP Discover 2013 Conference in Barcelona.

I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of HP sponsored discussions. Thanks again for joining, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast on how HP network tools help companies adapt to the new style of IT to deliver better user experiences. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2014. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As Cloud and Mobile Trends Drive User Expectations Higher, Networks Must Now Deliver Applications Faster, Safer, Cheaper

Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on how networks services must support growing application and media delivery demands.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Akamai Technologies.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how the major IT trends of the day -- from mobile to cloud to app stores -- are changing the expectations we all have from our networks.

We hear about the post-PC era, but rarely does anyone talk about the post-LAN or even the post-WAN era. How are the networks of yesterday going to support the applications and media delivery requirements of tomorrow?

It’s increasingly clear that more users will be using more devices to access more types of content and services. They want coordination among those devices for that content. They want it done securely with privacy, and they want their IT departments to support all of their devices for all of their work applications and data too.

From the IT mangers' perspective, they want to be able to deliver all kinds of applications using all sorts of models, from smartphones to tablets to zero clients to web streaming to fat-client downloads and website delivery across multiple public and private networks with control and with ease.

This is all a very tall order, and networks will need to adjust rapidly or the latency and hassle of access and performance issues will get in the way of users, their new expectations, and their behaviors -- for both work and play.

We're here today with an executive from at Akamai Technologies to delve into the rapidly evolving trends and subsequently heightened expectations that we're all developing around our networks. We are going to look at how those networks might actually rise to the task.

Please join me in welcoming Neil Cohen, Vice President of Product Marketing at Akamai Technologies. Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Neil. [Disclosure: Akamai is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Neil Cohen: Hi, Dana. Happy to be here.

Gardner: So Neil, given these heightened expectations -- this always-on, hyper connectivity mode -- how are networks going to rise to this? Are they maybe even at the risk of becoming the weak link in how we progress?

Change is needed

Cohen: Nobody wants the network to be the weak link, but changes definitely need to happen. Look at what’s going on in the enterprise and the way applications are being deployed. It’s changing to where they're moving out to the cloud. Applications that used to reside in your own infrastructure are moving out to other infrastructure, and in some cases, you don’t have the ability to place any sort of technology to optimize the WAN out in the cloud.

Mobile device usage is exploding. Things like smartphones and tablets are all becoming intertwined with the way people want to access their applications. Obviously, when you start opening up more applications through access to the internet, you have a new level of security that you have to worry about when things move outside of your firewall that used to be within it.

Gardner: One of the things that's interesting to me is that there are so many different networks involved with an end-to-end services lifecycle now. We think about mobile and cloud, and we don’t have one administrator to go to, one throat to choke, as it were. How do people approach this problem when there are multiple networks, and how do you know where the weak link is, when there is a problem?

Cohen: The first step is to understand just what many networks actually mean, because even that has a lot of different dimensions to it. The fact that things are moving out to public clouds means that users are getting access, usually over the internet. We all know that the internet is very different than your private network. Nobody is going to give you a service-level agreement (SLA) on the internet.

Something like mobile is different, where you have mobile networks that have different attributes, different levels of over subscription and different bottlenecks that need to be solved. This really starts driving the need to not only 1) bring control over the internet itself, as well as the mobile networks.

There are a lot of different things that people are looking at to try to solve application delivery outside of the corporate network.



But also 2) the importance for performance analytics from a real end-user perspective. It becomes important to look at all the different choke points at which latency can occur and to be able to bring it all into a holistic view, so that you can troubleshoot and understand where your problems are.

Gardner: This is something we all grapple with. Occasionally, we’ll be using our smartphones or tablets and performance issues will kick in. I don’t have a clue where that weak link is on that spectrum of my device back to some data center somewhere. Is there some way that the network adapts? Is there a technology approach to this? We all want to attack it, but just briefly from a technological perspective, how can this end-to-end solution start to come together?

Cohen: There are a lot of different things that people are looking at to try to solve application delivery outside of the corporate network. Something we’ve been doing at Akamai for a long time is deploying our own optimization protocols into the internet that give you the control, the SLA, the types of quality of service that you normally associate with your private network.

And there are lots of optimization tricks that are being done for mobile devices, where you can optimize the network. You can optimize the web content and you can actually develop different formats and different content for mobile devices than for regular desktop devices. All of those are different ways to try to deal with the performance challenges off the traditional WAN.

Gardner: It's my sense that the IT folks inside enterprises are looking to get out of this business. There's been a tendency to bake more network services into their infrastructure, but I think as that edge of the enterprise moves outward, almost to infinity at this point, with so many different screens per user, that they probably want to outsource this as well. Do you sense if that’s the case and are the carriers stepping up to the plate and saying, "We’re going to take over more of this network performance issue?"

Cohen: I think they're looking at it and saying, "Look, I have a problem. My network is evolving. It's spanning in lots of different ways, whether it's on my private network or out on the internet or mobile devices," and they need to solve that problem. One way of solving it is to build hardware and do lots of different do-it-yourself approaches to try to solve that.

Unwieldy approach

I agree with you, Dana. That’s a very unwieldy approach. It requires a lot of dollars and arguably doesn’t solve the problem very well, which is why companies look for managed services and ways to outsource those types of problems, when things move off of their WAN.

But at the same time, even though they're outsourcing it, they still want control. It's important for an IT department to actually see what traffic and what applications are being accessed by the users, so that they understand the traffic and they can react to it.

Gardner: At the same time I'm seeing a rather impressive adoption pattern around virtualized desktop activities and there’s a variety of ways of doing this. We’ve seen solutions from folks like Citrix and Microsoft and we’re seeing streaming, zero-client, thin-client, and virtual-desktop activities, like infrastructure in the data center, a pure delivery of the full desktop and the applications as a service.

These are all different characterizations I suppose of a problem on the network. That is to say that there are different network issues, different payloads, and different protocols and technology. So how does that fit into this? When we look at latency, it's not just latency of one kind of delivery or technology or model. It's multiple at the same time.

Cohen: You’re correct. There are different unique challenges with the virtual desktop models, but it also ties into that same hyper-connected theme. In order to really unleash the potential of virtual desktops, you don’t only want to be able to access it on your corporate network, but you want to be able to get a local experience by taking that virtual desktop anywhere with you just like you do with a regular machine. You’re also seeing products being offered out in the market that allow you to extend virtual desktops onto your mobile tablets.

In order to really unleash the potential of virtual desktops, you don’t only want to be able to access it on your corporate network, but you want to be able to get a local experience.



You have the same kind of issues again. Not only do you have different protocols to optimize for virtual desktops, but you have to deal with the same challenges of delivering it across that entire ecosystem of devices, and networks. That’s an area that we’re investing heavily in as it relates to unlocking the potential of VDI. People will have universal access, to be able to take their desktops wherever they want to go.

Gardner: And is there some common thread to what we would think of in the past as acceleration services for things like websites, streaming, or downloads? Are we talking about an entirely new kind of infrastructure or is this some sort of a natural progression of what folks like Akamai have been doing for quite some time?

Cohen: It's a very logical extension of the technology we’ve built for more than a decade. If you look a decade ago, we had to solve the problem of delivering streaming video, real-time over the web, which is very sensitive to things like latency, packet loss, and jitter and that’s no different for virtual desktops. In order to give that local experience for virtual users, you have to solve the challenges of real-time communication back and forth between the client and the server.

Gardner: And these are fairly substantial issues. It seems to me that if you can solve these network issues, if you can outsource some of the performance concerns and develop a better set of security and privacy, I suppose backstops, then you can start to invest more in your data center consolidation efforts -- one datacenter for a global infrastructure perhaps.

You can start to leverage more outsource services like software as a service (SaaS) or cloud. You can transform your applications. Instead of being of an older platform or paradigm or model, you can start to go toward newer ones, perhaps start dabbling in things like HTML5.

If I were an architect in the enterprise, it seems to me that many of my long-term cost-performance improvement activities of major strategic initiatives are all hinging on solving this network problem.

So do you get that requirement, that request, from the CIO saying, "Listen, I'm betting my future on this network. What do I need to do? Who do I need to go to to make sure that that doesn’t become a real problem for me and makes my dollar spent perhaps more risky?"

Business transformation

Cohen: What I'm hearing is more of a business transformation example, where the business comes down and puts pressure on the network to be able to access applications anywhere, to be able to outsource, to be able to offshore, and to be able to modernize their applications. That’s really mandating a lot of the changes in the network itself.

The pressure is really coming from the business, which is, "How do I react more quickly to the changing needs of the business without having IT in a position where they say, 'I can't.' " The internet is the pervasive platform that allows you to get anywhere. What you need is the quality of service guarantees that should come with it.

Gardner: I suppose we’re seeing two things here. We’ve got the pressure from the business side, which is innovate, do better, and be agile. IT is also having to do more with less, which means they have to in many cases transform and re-engineer and re-architect.

So you have a lot of wind in your sails, right? There are a lot of people saying, I want to find somebody who can come to this network problem with some sort of a comprehensive solution, that one throat to choke. What do you tell them?

Cohen: I tell them to come to Akamai. If you can help transform a business and you can do it in a way that is operationally more efficient at a lower cost, you’ve got the winning combination.

Gardner: And this is also I suppose not just an Akamai play, but is really an ecosystem play, because we’re talking about working in coordination with cloud providers, with other technology suppliers and vendors. Tell me a little bit about how the ecosystem works and what it takes to create an end-to-end solution?

In order to solve this problem as it relates to access anywhere and pervasive connectivity on any device, you definitely need to strike a bunch of partnerships.



Cohen: In order to solve this problem as it relates to access anywhere and pervasive connectivity on any device, you definitely need to strike a bunch of partnerships. Given Akamai’s presence has been in the internet and the ISPs, the types of partnerships that are required are getting your footprints inside of the corporate network, to be able to traverse over what we call hybrid cloud networks -- corporate users inside of the private network that need to reach out the public clouds for example.

It requires partnerships with the cloud providers as well, so that people who are standing up new applications on infrastructure and platform as service environments have a seamless integrated experience. It also requires partnerships with other types of networks, like the mobile networks, as well as the service providers themselves.

Gardner: And looking at this from a traditional internet value proposition, tell us, for those who might not be that familiar with Akamai, what your legacy and your heritage is, and what some of the products are that you have now, so that we can start thinking about what we might look forward to in the future.

Cohen: Akamai has been in business for more than 12 years now. We help business innovators move forward with their Internet business models. A decade ago, that was really consumer driven. Most people were thinking about things like, "I've got this website. I'm doing some commerce. People want to watch video." That’s really changed in the last decade. Now, you see the internet transforming into enterprise use as well.

Akamai continues to offer the consumer-based services as it relates to improving websites and rich media on the web. But now we have a full suite of services that provide application acceleration over the internet. We allow you to reach users globally while consolidating your infrastructure and getting the same kind of benefits you realize with WAN optimization on your private network, but out over the internet.

Security services

And as those applications move outside of the firewall, we’ve got a suite of security services that address the new types of security threats you deal with when you’re out on the web.

Gardner: One of the other things that I hear in the marketplace is the need for data, more analysis, more understanding what’s really taking place. There's been sort of a black box, maybe several black boxes, inside of IT for the business leaders. They don’t always understand what’s going on in the data center, but I'm sure they don’t understand what’s going on in the network.

Is there an opportunity at this juncture, when we start to look for network services bridging across these networks, looking for value added services at that larger network level outside the enterprise, that we can actually bring a better view into what’s going on, on these networks, back to these business leaders and IT leaders? Is there an analysis, a business intelligence benefit from doing this as well?

Cohen: You’re absolutely right. What’s important is not only that you improve the delivery of an application, but that you have the appropriate insight in terms of how the application is performing and how people are using the application so that you can take action and react accordingly.

Just because something has moved out into the cloud or out on the Internet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have the same kind of real-time personalized analytics that you expect on your private network. That’s an area we’ve invested in, both in our own technology investment, but also with some partnerships that provide real-time reporting and business intelligence in terms of our critical websites and applications.

Just because something has moved out into the cloud or out on the Internet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have the same kind of real-time personalized analytics that you expect on your private network.



Gardner: Is there something about the type of applications that we should expect a change? We’ve had some paradigm shifts over the past 20 years. We had mainframe apps, and then client-server apps, and then we've had n-tier apps and Web apps and services orientation is coming, where it is more of a services delivery model.

But, is the mobile cloud, these mega trends that we’re seeing, are fundamentally redefining applications. Are we seeing a different type of what we consider application delivery requirement?

Cohen: A lot of it is very similar, which is the principle of the web. Websites are based on HTML and with HTML5, the web is getting richer, more immersive, and starting to approach that as the same kind of experience you get on your desktop.

What I expect to see is more adoption of standard web languages. It means that you need to use good semantic design principles, as it relates to the way you design your applications. But in terms of optimizing content and building for mobile devices and mobile specific sites, a lot of that is going to be using standard web languages that people are familiar with and that are just evolving and getting better.

Gardner: So maybe a way to rephrase that would be, not that the types of applications are changing, but is there a need to design and build these applications differently, in such a way that they are cloud-ready or hybrid-ready or mobile-ready?

Are there any thoughts that you have as someone who is really focused on the network of saying, "I wish I could to talk to these developers early on, when they’re setting up the requirements, so that we could build these apps for their ability to take advantage of this more heterogeneous cloud and/or multiple networks environment?"

Different spin

Cohen: There's slightly a different spin on that one, Dana, which is, can we go back to the developers and get them to build on a standard set of tools that allow them to deal with the different types of connected devices out in the market? If you build one code base based on HTML, for example, could you take that website that you've built and be able to render it differently in the cloud and allow it to adapt on the fly for something like an iPhone, an Android, a BlackBerry, a 7-inch tablet, or a 9-inch tablet?

If I were to go back to the developers, I’d ask, "Do you really need to build different websites or separate apps for all these different form factors, or is there a better way to build one common source, a code, and then adapt it using different techniques in the network, in the cloud that allow you to reuse that investment over and over again?"

Gardner: So part of the solution to the many screens problem isn’t more application interface designs, but perhaps a more common basis for the application and services, and let the network take care of those issues on a screen to screen basis. Is that closer?

Cohen: That’s exactly right. More and more of the intelligence is actually moving out to the cloud. We’ve already seen this on the video side. In the past people had to use lots of different formats and bit rates. Now what they’re doing is taking that stuff and saying, "Give me one high quality source." Then all of the adaptation capabilities that are going to be done in the network, in the cloud, just simplify that work from the customer.

I expect exactly the same thing to happen in the enterprise, where the enterprise is one common source of code and a lot of the adaptation capabilities are done, again, that intelligent function inside of the network.

It means that you need to use good semantic design principles, as it relates to the way you design your applications.



Gardner: I'm afraid we are about out of time, Neil. I really appreciate getting a better understanding of what some of the challenges are as we move into this “post-PC” era.

You've been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on how the major IT trends of the day are changing the expectations we all have from our networks, and how those networks might rise to the occasion in helping us stay on track in terms of where we want things to go.

I want to thank our guest. We’ve been here with Neil Cohen, Vice President of Product Marketing at Akamai Technologies. Any closing thoughts Neil, on where people might consider the future networks to be and what they might look like?

Cohen: This is the hot topic. The WAN is becoming everything, but you really need to change your views as it relates to not just thinking about what happens inside of your corporate network, but with the movement of cloud, all of the connected devices, all of this quickly becoming the network.

Gardner: Very good. Thanks again. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. I also want to thank our audience for joining, and welcome them to come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Akamai Technologies.

Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on how networks services must support growing application and media delivery demands. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.

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