Showing posts with label network governance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label network governance. Show all posts

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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Thursday, December 09, 2010

WAN Governance and Network Unification Make or Break Successful Cloud and Hybrid Computing Implementations

Transcript of a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast on meeting the challenges of network management and operations in the age of cloud computing.

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

Get a free white paper on WAN Governance for Cloud Computing.

Get the free Cloud Networking Report.

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

Thanks for joining this sponsored podcast discussion on the rapidly escalating complexity and consequent need for network management innovation in the age of hybrid computing.

And the emphasis nowadays is on "networks," not "network." Long gone are the days when a common and controlled local area network (LAN) served as the workhorse for critical applications and data delivery. With the increased interest in cloud, software as a service (SaaS), and mobile computing, applications are jockeying across multiple networks, both in terms of how services are assembled, as well in how users in different environments access and respond to these critical applications.

Indeed, cloud computing forces a collapse in the gaps between the former silos of private, public, and personal networking domains. Since the network management and governance tasks have changed and continue to evolve rapidly, so too must the ways in which solutions and technologies address the tangled networks environment we all now live and work in.

Automated network unification and pervasive wide area networking (WAN) governance are proving essential to ensure quality, scale, and manage security across all forms of today's applications use. We're here to explore the new and future path to WAN governance and to better understand how Ipanema Technologies is working to help its customers make clear headway, so that the next few years bring about a hybrid cloud computing opportunity and not a hastening downward complexity spiral.

We're here now to discuss the new reality of networks and applications delivery performance. Please join me in welcoming our guests, Peter Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer, North America, for Ipanema Technologies. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Schmidt: Hey, Dana. It's nice to be here.

Gardner: We are also here with David White, Vice President of Global Business Development at Ipanema. Hello, David.

David White: Hi, Dana. Looking forward to this chat.

Gardner: Let's look at this whole issue of the pain now in networking. The trends around cloud are raising the stakes. Tell us how things have shifted, Dave, over the last several years.

White: Over the last several years, most enterprise customers that we've talked to and, in fact, most enterprise customer in the industry, have moved to using SaaS applications. For example, is the largest, and is used by most large enterprise companies as a part of their sales force automation. Also, Amazon is doing hosting for hundreds of different businesses providing SaaS applications to enterprises. Peter, do you have any comments?

Schmidt: Another really important trend is that enterprises have added extra networks. They've been building single private networks based on MPLS converted from older technologies like Frame Relay. Over the past few years, we've seen a real trend, where enterprises have been going to the Internet as a backup link for a lot of their offices.

Cheap bandwidth

The Internet is cheap bandwidth and it gives some benefits of additional reliability. But now, they've got all this bandwidth lying around, they're paying for it, and they'd like to find a way to make use of that.

As soon as you start using multiple networks, you're in the cloud, because now you're making use of resources that are outside the control of your own IT organization and your service provider. Whether people think about it or not, just by adding a second network, they're taking their first steps into the cloud.

White: I absolutely agree and, as part of that, a lot of customers are looking at things over the Internet that they can use as applications, like Google Apps, that they never could have used even two years ago.

Schmidt: You're suddenly delivering significant applications from Google’s servers over the Internet as an enterprise IT organization. How you get your arms around that is a big question.

Gardner: And, Peter, when we had just internal applications and we are worrying about performance issues with that, that was plenty complex enough, particularly when we want to consider how we brought in new services and new employees, or expanding our organization out to branch offices and whatnot. Give me a sense of how much more complex this is from a network performance management situation.

Even as little as three years ago, the focus was on how to get the most performance for your applications out of your single MPLS network.

Schmidt: That’s an excellent point, Dana. I speak at conferences fairly often, and over the past few years, the hot topic has changed a little bit. Even as little as three years ago, the focus was on how to get the most performance for your applications out of your single MPLS network. I am talking enterprises where all of their applications are hosted on their property. They’ve got a single MPLS network from one service provider and they're still struggling to deliver reliable application performance across the infrastructure.

Now, we throw in multiple places to host applications. You have SaaS, Salesforce, and Google Docs. You have platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). People’s critical applications can be hosted in numerous locations, many of which are beyond their control. Then, as I mentioned, these are being accessed via multiple networks, and you have the legacy MPLS plus the Internet.

There are increasing numbers or diversity of models of those networks, whether the Internet connection gets to a service provider POP and then via MPLS to their own data center, or what is the impact of content delivery networks? So we've got a situation where enterprises who are struggling to master the complexity with one data center and one network are now using multiple data centers and multiple networks. Something is going to have to give.

Gardner: For a lot of companies, as they try to push applications out, but retain more central control, perhaps to cut costs with a more consolidated data center strategy, the branch office approach maybe gives them some sense of what to expect as they move toward cloud. In your opinion, Dave, the branch office is sort of a stepping stone to what networking in the cloud ecology or ecosystem is about.

White: Absolutely. It's really all focused once again on the branch for the last five to seven years. We’ve had server consolidation where we try to remove any type of issues for the branch and remove intelligence from the branch. As cloud computing has come in, and we are going through what we have just described regarding usage of the Internet and SaaS applications, we are now putting more stress on the branch.

Managing traffic

We're not necessarily putting intelligence out there, but we're having 2, 3, 4, 5, or more networks, all coming into the branch at the same time, and that traffic has to be managed. It’s something a lot of people haven’t thought about.

Schmidt: That’s the unknown piece of the cloud story. Most of the cloud marketing and innovation that you read about in the past couple of years is really being focused on a data center. It's as if everything to do with the application happened in the data center. We know it's only the half of the story. You have the network and then the branch itself. As long as the majority of workers are out in branch offices, which is true for a large percentage of especially larger enterprises, making that work is obviously critical for the productivity of the whole business.

White: And, interest going up too. When you look at the announcements that have been coming out and the hype on cloud in the industry, it's all focused on the data center. That’s because most of the vendors say, "That’s where the big bucks are being made. We are going to make money out of the data center."

Ipanema, on the other hand, is focused on application acceleration, and in order to do that, you have to take care of what goes on in the branch and manage it.

Gardner: So, it seems that automating network unification, bringing more governance to this whole WAN, even if it's a complex stew of networks, that's the key. Help me understand what it is at a high level that we need to do to beat this, so that we can do cloud computing and get that return on investment (ROI) in that data center, but without stumbling at the network stage.

White: I'd be happy to. At a high level, the first thing you have do is provide some type of WAN governance, simply meaning that we are going to make sure that you have taken care of the management of your business. Because that’s what WAN governance means -- providing the type of control over your business to allow it to continue to be productive, as you're making changes to your WAN.

Simply put, you first of all have to find out what's going on in the network.

Simply put, you first of all have to find out what's going on in the network. You have to understand what's happening on those 4, 5, or 6 different flows that are all going in from different sources to your branch. You have to be able to control those flows and manage them, so that you don't have your edge device or edge router getting congested.

You have to be able to guarantee performance and, very importantly, you also have to then unify, balance, and optimize the performance over those multiple network points that are coming into your branch.

If you're doing it the right way, at least what we would say is the right way, it needs to be dynamic, automatic and, in Ipanema terminology, autonomic, meaning that not only does it happen automatically, but the network learns and manages itself. It doesn’t require extra human intervention.

Schmidt: That's a really critical point. The way the enterprise is going to get its arms around this increasingly complex environment is not through throwing people at it. Throwing people at network management has never worked and, now that the environment is more complex, it's going to work even less.

Quickly and automatically

The whole point of cloud is that you're going to use virtualization and automation to bring up instances of servers quickly and automatically, and that's where this order of magnitude improvement potential comes from. But, if you don't want the multiple networks to be the bottleneck, then you have to apply automation in that domain as well. That's what we've done. We've made it possible for the network to run itself to meet the businesses’ objectives.

The effect that has in a branch office with multiple network connections is really to hide all the complexity that that multiplicity brings, because the system is managing them all in a unified way. That's what we're getting at when we're talking about network unification. The details that bedeviled traditional management just kind of disappear.

Gardner: Thanks, Peter. I see the term WAN governance used a lot, I wonder if either of you could give me a quick primer. What do you really mean by WAN governance?

White: I just mentioned it and I probably should have defined it a little more. We look at WAN governance as really a piece of ISO standard for IT governance, which is an official ISO standard. There is a section in there on WAN governance. In a way, it talks about what you have to do to manage your wide area.

Ipanema strongly believes the WAN governance is really a standard that should be put on the books, but isn't yet. If you're really going to have governance over your IT, since the network is a strategic asset to promote enterprise customers, you need to have governance over the wide area as well.

We've made it a particular issue, as far as we're concerned, in delivery of service. We want to make sure that our customers can have governance over the wide area.

We've made it a particular issue, as far as we're concerned, in delivery of service. We want to make sure that our customers can have governance over the wide area. Peter, have you got more comments on that?

Schmidt: WAN governance is what the CIO wants to buy. CIOs don’t want to buy a WAN, and they certainly don't want to buy WAN optimization controllers. What they want to buy is reliable application performance across their infrastructure with the best possible performance and lowest possible cost. My high-level definition of WAN governance is that it's the technology and techniques that allow the CIO to buy that.

White: Excellent.

Gardner: So, as we look at cloud computing and then hybrid computing, there is also a simultaneous trend around mobile computing. As you’ve pointed out Peter, when I've spoken to you in the past, there seems to be this removal of the boundaries between private, public, and personal computing.

Tell me how that's impacting things. I know that a lot of the enterprises I talk to are rapidly moving toward mobile. They want to be able to use mobile apps. They want to be able to have their workforce engaging with applications as part of the business process 24X7 no matter where they are.

Schmidt: Absolutely. Anybody who carries a smartphone is experiencing the personal, private, public boundary of operations themselves. But what seems natural to somebody carrying an iPhone or Blackberry is a tremendous challenge to the traditional models of IT.

iPhone app

e're about to release our first iPhone app to provide an interface into our central management system, and it's terrific. It's exactly the kind of thing the CIO would want to have in their hand. That just shows the value of pushing IT to be democratized and put into the hands of all of the people tied to the enterprise.

How does it challenge traditional IT? Control is something that is IT's responsibility, and it doesn't matter that these technological innovations are making that harder. They still have that responsibility.

We think you need to use technology to fight technology. The Ipanema system is designed to provide the full control by giving the enterprise IT organization not just visibility in reporting on every user's access to their IT infrastructure, but also to automatically control all of that traffic in accordance with various policies.

We don't see any other way around it. You're not going to do this manually. You've got to build smarter systems. We happen to think that we are a huge piece of that puzzle in terms of how we control things at the network level.

White: Dana, most of us hire those mobile remote users ourselves. We're all on the road or at home working, which is probably typical for 80 percent of all the people in the U.S. My wife, for example, works for a real estate agency. You wouldn’t think she works at home, but she does, and most everybody does. What's important is that you have to provide full guaranteed performance, regardless of where your users are, because a lot of your users are now remote and mobile and they are accessing critical applications.

It allows enterprises to have control and management over the objectives they have set for application performance down to my desktop.

So if you have a mobile agent that is a part of your network, all the services need to be integrated for the visibility and control of the applications even to a mobile user. That's what the mobile client does. It's integrated into the whole network and it's nothing separate. It allows enterprises to have control and management over the objectives they have set for application performance down to my desktop.

Schmidt: Or your laptop in the hotel room.

White: Or my laptop in the hotel room, absolutely.

Gardner: And the pace has changed so rapidly, who knows? In two years there might be a totally new class of device out there, right?

Schmidt: One thing that's clear is that putting into people’s hands more power that they're going to be using more often and in more places is the obvious trend. I don't know in which ways smartphones will get smarter, but I'm pretty sure that they will become the dominant end user device over time for all IT needs -- personal, private, and public.

White: If we look at the projections for smartphones, in the next couple of years they're going to have the intelligence that the current laptops we're using now have. That means they're really going to have the performance of a laptop, and they will have applications running the same as we do now on our laptops.

Interface limitations

Schmidt: The limitations of the interface versus a laptop are such that it's going to put pressure on some of the more sophisticated computing happening into the back end of the cloud. So, the two really work off each other.

White: I completely agree.

Gardner: While we think about mobile computing now as a B2E, that is to say, how I empower my employees, we're also seeing a lot of enterprises thinking about how to deliver applications to their end users, their clients, their customers, and even finding new classes of customers. This is about application delivery, not just for productivity internally, but increasingly as the means to new revenue and new business. Any thoughts about that?

Schmidt: That really represents a merging of the traditional e-commerce model with the traditional IT. Now we have a similar value delivery mechanism, the app, being used by different constituents of the same enterprise.

For example, we've been talking to a very large, worldwide, well-known consumer brand. Their concern is how do they make the thousands of employees of their enterprise productive using their mobile apps? Also, how do they bring their customers to their website and have them buy that way.

We're talking to both groups at the same time, because it's ultimately a common infrastructure. They need a way to solve that issue from a common platform. That's why they came to us, because we're the only ones who have that platform.

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Gardner: Let's look at the ways that we approach these. We've clearly defined that there are a lot of challenges and tremendous opportunities as well. This isn't something that many companies can afford to ignore. This is a problem that needs to be solved. How do we get at this? What are the WAN governance, the autonomic, and the hybrid network unification approaches that we need to consider?

Schmidt: It starts with a change in philosophy, honestly. Traditional network management was done from a very bottoms-up technical orientation. We worried about sites, we worried about routers, we worried about network connection, and we hoped to build from the bottom-up a relatively reliable, relatively well-functioning network infrastructure.

Since you're no longer building big chunks of that infrastructure to move to the cloud, there's an obvious limitation right there in a bottom-up approach. You're going to be buying a service with some sort of service level agreement (SLA). There's a wrapper around that. You don't have those details. In fact, that's what exciting about the cloud. Now you don't have to worry about managing those details.

You've got to go the rest of the way, and Ipanema has pioneered a unique approach that stems from the idea that all that matters is that end users are able to get good performance from their applications, because that’s when they are most productive. When application performance slows down, end users start surfing the web. So, ensuring the performance of the application is critical. That’s what the enterprise needs to reorient itself toward.

The fundamental input into our system is a list of applications and their performance. The system itself is intelligent enough to monitor and dynamically control all of the traffic to achieve those objectives on behalf of the business. So, it’s imposing the business’s will on the network.

The first step

The first step is the change in orientation to understand that application performance is the fundamental thing you want to buy, and to realize that it could be achieved top-down through a system like ours.

Gardner: Tell me a little bit about the history of Ipanema. How did you get to this point? Dave, what’s the history that led up to your innovation and ability to look at this a little differently?

White: It starts with our three founders who got together and took a look at what the needs were from an application perspective. Their goal was to find a way to ensure that, as users, we all had the performance we needed and that enterprises could deliver performance from an application perspective to their users.

That’s what they started out with. Then they took a look at how you would deliver that service and recognized the best way to provide for the delivery of the right type of consistent application performance is to do it over the wide area and to look what happens over the WAN.

They were very visionary in recognizing that application performance over the wide area is going to be the single most critical piece of the puzzle, when it comes to taking a look at how we as users of enterprise deliver service and do it in conjunction with major service providers and network providers, because they are the ones that deliver the wide area connections.

When they started out, they were told that they were wrong and weren't looking at it the right way. When you see what’s happened to the network and how it’s evolved, particularly now that we are moving into the cloud generation, they were focused exactly in the right area. Although we have a lot of new features, the basic architecture has been there for years and it’s been proven in major service provider networks and is installed on a global basis.

The basic architecture has been there for years and it’s been proven in major service provider networks and is installed on a global basis.

Gardner: Peter, we are going to get into some more technical detail about Ipanema’s approach in an additional podcast, but just to round this out for our discussion today, what is a little bit of the secret sauce? What is it that differentiates you technically in terms of being able to accomplish autonomic networking and hybrid network unification?

Schmidt: There are a couple of things that are the secret sauce, but the easiest one to explain probably is the fact that our appliances actually cooperate with each other, and this is unique. Our appliances know about not just the traffic that’s impinging on their network interfaces, but they actually know about the flows that are active everywhere on the network.

It’s actually not that that simple. They really only need to know about the flows that might conflict with the flows that they are managing. But conceptually, every device on the network knows about all the other flows it needs to know about. They are constantly communicating with each other -- what flows are active and what performance those flows are getting from the infrastructure, which includes the whole WAN, but also the data center and the service. So what does that enable?

Global perspective

Sharing this information means that all of the decisions made by an individual device are made from a global perspective. They're no longer making a local optimization decision. They each run the same algorithm and can come to the same result. And that result is a globally optimum traffic mix on the network.

When I say globally optimum, that’s a valid technical term as opposed to a marketing term, because the information has been collected globally from the entire system. In terms of optimum, what I mean is the best possible performance from the most applications using the given network infrastructure and its status at that point in time. So, it’s a hard definition of what optimum means.

Gardner: It sounds like you are taking metadata in a real-time environment, almost applying business intelligence to what’s going on in the network. Is that what you mean by WAN governance or am I overstepping the definition here?

Schmidt: Forgive me, Dana, but that’s how a data center guy would describe what we are doing in the network. We're network guys. From what I know about metadata and the applications built back in the data center, that sounds pretty good. The fundamental point is that the traditional approach to network management required a human being in the loop, and the human being had to look at low level metrics, like what percent full was a particular circuit, what was the ping time between two sites, and then try make a judgment about what that meant in terms of the health of the infrastructure.

Their primary indicator about the health of the infrastructure was, and remains, helpdesk calls. I was at Interop speaking at a panel last year, and the analyst who was monitoring the panel and said, "Everybody in the audience whose first knowledge of an application performance problem is a call to the helpdesk, raise your hands." Three quarters of the IT professionals in that audience raised their hand -- and the other quarter were lying -- because it's really impossible with traditional network approaches to understand what's going on at the application level from the network.

If you are looking at it the way you’ve done for the last 10 or 20 years, there is no way that you can see everything.

There are a couple of theoretical reasons for that, but Ipanema said, "That’s too hard. It's probably not even theoretically possible. So, let's do something different. Let's measure the application performance directly and then share those measurements" -- and that’s the key.

White: The point I'd like to make is that it's absolutely impossible to measure it in a cloud environment as an enterprise network manager, because you only see a piece of the network. Unless you’ve done something different, which is what we provide, than the way you are going to look at your network, if you are looking at it the way you’ve done for the last 10 or 20 years, there is no way that you can see everything.

The closing point here is that the first step is visibility into the network, and the next step is providing the control. You need to do that in the cloud environment, and that's what Ipanema does.

Gardner: When Peter mentioned that he thinks about things of course from a networking perspective, I tend to think more at a data center level, but these two worlds need to stop colliding or being separate to come together. How does what Ipanema does can allow that? Can we bridge this cultural gap between the data center mentality and the network mentality, because I think that’s what's going to be essential for cloud computing?

Schmidt: It's all about application delivery. The enterprise is beginning to understand that. We talked about the founders’ insight in realizing that what really matters is good application performance across the WAN and how the WAN is a critical asset and it's the most highly variable asset, especially in the cloud. So, there is a lot of value to getting control there.

Complex environment

But, the data center is its own highly complex environment with networks and multiple tiers of different computing going on. Clearly, a huge amount of work and innovation has gone on in there by companies other than Ipanema to master that complexity, and in fact, automate all sorts of interesting activities to make the data center a much more responsive, flexible, on-demand infrastructure.

But, the thing that needs to happen is that there needs to be an end-to-end view of how to deliver the best possible application performance to the end user, given the resources that have been deployed or could be turned on, because that’s the new dimension here. In the data center, we can now turn on more servers dynamically. Ipanema has the ability to dynamically send the traffic over multiple network paths. So, there's an affinity there that we need to exploit. In fact, we're actively working on partnerships to help realize that connection.

Gardner: We are just about out of time, but I would like to look at the future and even through the lens of the user. Is there someone that you are aware of, a use case that perhaps is a bellwether of what more organizations will be dealing with looking at this architectural perspective, the visibility, but also with this being so essential to their business having a real impact on the bottom line?

Is there an example that might illuminate where other people are going to find themselves in the few years?

Schmidt: We have an excellent example right now. A very large enterprise, a major logistics company, is in the process of a multi-year IT project that is critically strategic to their entire business. They're moving from a legacy IBM mainframe infrastructure that's running their entire business today -- order taking to warehouse management to truck dispatch, the whole nine yards.

The fact that our platform has become the basis for a proven globally deployed intelligent application based managed service gave them a lot of confidence that this is really going to work for them.

They're moving to an SAP system. A critical enabler of that is the fact that they're going to buy a managed service from a global service provider that’s partner of Ipanema’s, BT. BT has an intelligent managed service on top of the Ipanema platform. So what are the benefits the customer is buying?

Well, the number one thing caused them to adopt this approach was their concern that if there is poor application performance with this SAP suite of applications, it's not a theoretical productivity reduction. It's a measurable, millions of dollars per hour or more, hit to their bottom line. So there is a very high value of having full control over their application performance on their WAN.

I think the fact that they could buy it as a service from a major service provider was also a big attraction to them. They're a very large company. They're used to dealing with very large IT service providers. The fact that our platform has become the basis for a proven globally deployed intelligent application based managed service gave them a lot of confidence that this is really going to work for them.

Although this example is a case of going from mainframe to a modern SAP distributed implementation, I see the benefit that they are looking for being the same as people who move into the cloud are looking for. They're looking for revolutionary improvements in their IT infrastructure, whether that turns into a factor of 10 cost reduction or a factor of 10 up-time or reliability improvement or whatever the other strategic metric may be. The promise of cloud is that by using this new model, you can revolutionize your IT.

One of the big risks there, of course, is that you step into this world of greater complexity and you can have the productivity gains completely undone by the fact that it is complex and you need to be able to figure out how to manage that. So, this company is actually a pretty good example of what people are going to be struggling with as they move into the future and look at cloud -- how they migrate their critical business activities into a new distributed infrastructure -- and we have a piece of that answer with WAN governance.

Gardner: I'm afraid we'll have to leave it there. It was a very interesting discussion. We've been talking about automated network unification and pervasive WAN governance as essential ingredients to quality, scale, and managed security across the many forms of today's applications use, working more towards cloud and hybrid models.

I want to thank our guests. We've been joined by Peter Schmidt. He is the Chief Technology Officer, North America, for Ipanema Technologies. Thank you, Peter.

Schmidt: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And David White, Vice President of Global Business Development at Ipanema. Thanks so much, Dave.

White: Thanks, Dana. It was a pleasure.

Gardner: This is Dana Gartner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. You’ve been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for listening, and come back next time.

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

Transcript of a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast on meeting the challenges in networks management in the age of cloud computing. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2010. All rights reserved.

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