April 2009 Archives

Network Management - 2009 And Still Being Reinvented

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I don't want to admit to how long I've been looking at network management products for.

I could say, ever since the days when you started computers up with a winding handle but, of course, that's the future not the past. Best part of 10 years ago I tried to start an industry body with the illustrious acronym - NGNMF - Next Generation Network Management Forum; had an inaugural meeting that was well attended by all who found SNMP offensive and useless, and went precisely nowhere thereafter. A bit like SNMP itself really...

So it was with both relish (rather than pickle) and no surprise whatsoever, that I spoke with a UK start-up this week, Cyclone Technology, whose netPrefect product is another attempt to solve the enterprise-wide issue of network management, coming from an "SNMP is a load of old b******s" standpoint. Phil Baxter, yer man behind netPrefect, sees the product as slotting in at the layer between the OpenView/Tivoli/CA top level - i.e. the products that cost $$$$ to draw a nice picture of the network and alert you to all the stuff you already know about and hide the stuff you really want to know about - and the products that dig in a little deeper and more specifically, such as the config change management and related problems that the likes of NewNetTechnologies deal with, which I've covered in this blog previously.

For me, a product such as netPrefect, which, among other things, carries out predictive trend analysis, in-band and out-of-band monitoring, remote access, and customisable threshold alerts and reporting should, given a basic discovery tool, be capable of replacing those mammoth SNMP managers of managers it - like all others - has to support.

It's not just wishful thinking... Back to NewNetTechnologies - the company has had a couple of very large customers (unless the likes of National Grid don't fit the description) throw out CiscoWorks in favour of NNT's Change Tracker product, simply 'cos it does exactly what it says on the tin, promptly and cost-effectively. Which kinds of sums up what's needed in IT in 2009?

So, we'll be keeping an eye on the netPrefect product - hopefully I'll be getting my hands on it to test and position accordingly - and others, to see if we can finally bring NGNM (forget the Forum) home to roost...



Where The Sun Don't Shine

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Not at IBM that is, but it does so at Oracle.

Makes a lot more sense, of sorts, for Oracle to acquire Sun that it did IBM. Sun and Solaris are valuable platforms for Oracle, so it's asset protection as much as anything I guess.

Also - Sun gets a parent company with far more "pretentious-moi" HQs in the Bay Area. If you haven't seen Oracle's HQ - Google - still looks pretty far out in 2009. Interesting too for all of Sun's partners, one of which is my old mates at Zeus - Application Delivery Control or posh Load-Balancing in old money. Now, there aren't many Oracle applications I've seen that couldn't benefit from a bit of delivery control... 

The question is, given Oracle's propensity to enjoy profit-making, what happens now to MySQL? Look out for those "Upgrade to Oracle"offers real soon now.


Who Really Owns The 802.11 In Your WiFi?

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Interesting news from our friend HP (especially since I'm testing ProCurve newly acquired from Colubris WLAN controller) in that it has settled confidentially with Australia's science agency CSIRO which has a longstanding patent claim against many of the well-known WLAN product vendors.

Not only will this prove expensive for HP (so that's why all it's staff had to take pay-cuts) but for the many other vendors who will now be expected to follow suit. These include the likes of giants such as Microsoft, Dell and Intel, WLAN tech guys Buffalo and mainstreamers such as D-Link, Netgear and Belkin and even Nintendo. So maybe it's not only Ryanair that is looking to make you pay extra for a wii...

The patent originally granted to CSIRO back in the mid-'90's revolved around the design of multi-path wireless that equates to the MIMO-based 802.11n standard - so enabling bandwith increases by an X factor - five in the case of the patent I understand. Funnily enough, around that time I was also doing some testing with a wireless start-up called Supergold that - even then - had 22Mbps working, but in an infra-red environment; this was the tip of the codepage iceburg; we were predicting 100Mbps+ easily in the first iteration of the product.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world went down the RF route, so Supergold was effectively scuppered. Makes you wonder just how many more "might have been's" there are out there in the wireless world...


How Much For A Cuppa Java?

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Back in the mid-'90's IBM dramatically increased the cost of business software when it paid $3.5bn for Lotus Notes (unlimited license mind).

And now it looks set to make Java worth around $6bn - so how much is Microsoft's .net framework worth? But looking seriously at this apparently happening any moment now acquisition - IBM + Sun = 40% of the server market, globally. Which is a big number. So will this trigger off some kind of manic merger war and, if so, who marries who?

As observed previously in this space, we're already seeing networking being woven into the storage, Carrier Ethernet and other technology sectors. So... EMC and Juniper anyone? How about Dell and Extreme? F5 and Force 10?

So long as it's not a company beginning with "Northern" - applies equally to the banking sector...