So – another year and another Netevents; lots of old faces (not least mine!) and a few new ones. And it’s kind of the same with topics – understandably – as there’s only so much you can talk about in what is an increasingly condensed IT world.
Think about it – let’s take networking as an example. Well, in terms of connectivity, a LAN is Ethernet, other than a few SANs still around. And it’s not even referred to as a LAN any longer, just networking. When I started, I used to do multi-product tests, and each was a DIFFERENT type of LAN technology, not just six flavours of Ethernet. WANs – there were any number of different leased line providers and technologies: TDMs/fixed copper leased line, X.25, Frame Relay, dial-up, ISDN, and, in the higher echelons, ATM. SONET/SDH and finally MPLS.
And now people simply talk about cloud and Internet, public and private, OnPrem or OffPrem. “Cloud” also increasingly acts, in terms of being a single Service Provider point solution, as a replacement for other xSPs, SIs, VARs – you name it. Only security is still out there with a gazillion different flavours and approaches. Except that the world of IT is fed up with the complexity, time and cost of the validation and deployment (ongoing barely describes it) processes involved – just how DO you evaluate 200 different products that all claim to be an essential part of your security framework? – so, if a CSP or equivalent can provide the integrated security part of the deal too, it’s easy to see why that’s an attractive option. And that’s what we’re seeing now – solutions delivered that are integrating all those components in a more tightly-wrapped fashion than SIs could deliver of old. Moreover, some of the vendors at this year’s Netevents – such as Versa and NetFoundry – are combining elements (in this case SD-WAN and security and variations thereof) that are not merely bolt-ons to simply tick boxes, but are actually designed to be as good as any standalone (additional) alternative tech that is out there.
So, the market, in terms of options, is shrinking. Mergers and acquisitions are only accelerating this move. OK, so there are 83 billion tech start-ups a year (it is actually in the millions, globally, across all tech industries) but how many survive past the first (attempted) round of funding? And how many are REALLY offering something new and worthwhile? Think back to the early 80s, before PCs and networking became commonplace. How many options where there then? IBM, ICL, Marconi, DEC, Olivetti, Prime, Stratus, Tandem etc etc – but all essentially offering the same solution concept: a big box that powers lots of screens and keyboards. And if you wanted “WAN” connectivity in the UK, you simply went to BT and paid a fortune for the privilege So, AWS, Azure, VMware (being a unique element) and the rest are simply the “mainframe” providers of today. And all the other vendors are suppliers into the chain. But maybe that will give IT the stability it most definitely needs right now.
That said… while there can be too much choice, equally there can be too little. Back to those Netevents debates – if we accept that a “one size fits all” sock actually doesn’t (so the same sock really will fit from sizes 6-11???) then why would IT accept that a single technology – IoT – is equally suitable for kettles and power stations? Yes, both typically involve heating water, but that’s the only commonality. So, if you can hack a kettle, you can hack a power station. Is that what we’re really saying here?
So, much progress, but much more required… Well – that’s a great reason to have more IT events -)