As virtualization-lite creates swarms of increasingly dense VLANs in the data center, the IT industry appears to be responding by consolidating into coalitions, including Arcadia (EMC, VMW, and CSCO); HP/COMS; and IBM/JNPR. Each coalition will likely produce its own “branded container” dedicated to the simplification and tactical orchestration of growing VLAN empires.
This consolidation takes us back to the 70s when IBM and the BUNCH offered ever-shrinking choices to smocked IT decision makers. Years later the network evolved and disrupted the consolidation with new equipment categories, new solutions and emergent demands soon addressed by a mushrooming venture capital industry and hordes of tech entrepreneurs.
It seems likely that the cycle of consolidation and disruption is about to play itself out yet again as systems-centric innovation has temporarily surpassed network innovation and created this groovy time flashback effect. As networks catch up, however, they’ll unleash another wave of innovation that will again challenge the stale and empower the innovative.
These branded container coalitions are tactically important today because they’ll help CIOs address the increasingly painful gaps between automated systems and static, manually managed networks. Yet at some point each coalition will experience the same kind of network evolution apocalypse that the mainframe players faced. If they elect to extend 70s era lock-in schemes they will be punished by the market and by competitors who unleash the power of dynamic networks.
As networks evolve they will deliver new synergies and new economies to the application of processing power. New levels of automation, mobility and control will set the stage for a new wave of capex investment justified by massive reductions in operating expenses. Those who focus on 70s/80s era denial as a response will be forced to reduce margins and shift their efforts to low cost markets (cheap electricity, labor and property costs).
While many CIOs have little idea where opex costs are allocated in their data centers, its seems very likely that the pain of motion, sprawl and VLAN density are now shifting virtualization drivers from capex savings to flexibility. A recent Nemertes survey is consistent with a bloxNews survey; both show the rising importance of flexibility as a driver for virtualization.
Increased flexibility will require network evolution, and these containers are merely the first step. Today’s tech buyers are already conditioned to resist a return to the groovy days and will demand new more flexible, more open solutions. And the evolved network is the key to that flexibility and openness.
Disclosure: Greg holds VMW and EMC, depending upon relative valuation.
Authors: Greg Ness from Infoblox and Mark Thiele with Date Center Pulse.