Are the good old days coming back?

Long lunches and conversations of substance are things that Nick Booth hopes will return

Is it a sign of age, or is the IT industry less fun than it used to be?

You used to enjoy briefings. Now you endure them.

There’s nothing worse than a ‘working lunch’ where your food goes colder than your rictus grin while some sales man just talks at you and insists you can only ask questions at the end.

You can tell a lot about a person by who they blame for the shortage of laughs.

Some will blame Brexit. That’s because they blame everything on Brexit. If a clock stops, they believe it’s because electrical currents are not sustainable without the Grand Wizardry of Jean Claude Juncker.

Some blame Facebook and the rest of the disturbing weirdos of Silicon Valley. Advertising used to be witty, because it had to grab your attention by amusing you. The surveillance marketing model doesn’t need to be charming, because they’ve got you by your privates. They’ve already invaded your home computer, and now they’re rummaging around in your shopping list and ransacking your psyche.

Some blame the ‘paradigm shift’. No good ever comes after that ghastly phrase has been issued. It’s the modern equivalent of a pirate being handed the black spot by Long John Silver. Paradigm shifts in your industry are like your company being taken over by a Private Equity firm. They suck all the vibrancy out of the ecosystem and leave it sad, lifeless and skeletal.

I’m sure a veteran of the old days of box shifting, fast cars and long, long lunches, will agree with me on this. It used to be great hosting lunches with the channel then because those men and women were absolute nutters – and I mean that in the nicest way.

David Moss, the regional director for western europe for cloud application delivery management start up Avi Networks, was around in the days when Cabletron, Bay Networks and Cisco had sales channels charging fabulous markups on their routers and hubs. We met at the recent IP Expo in Excel. Does he agree that software is boring?

Quite the opposite, it turns out.

“Yes, my heritage as you remember was in layers two and three of the seven layer model. When I worked for Cabletron we were selling the plumbing. We’re now on layers four to seven, with the applications sitting on top and that creates much more interest and make the functions of the network critical,” says Moss.


Avi Networks is quite an exciting prospect though. It sells a cloud software that replaces load balancing devices, which haven’t changed in 25 years. A load balancing box is about as effective at managing a cloud computing network as King Cnut was at managing the tides. The cloud is a fluid system that has enormous devolved power and constantly shifting swells and ebbs and flows. But an appliance just sits in the middle while everything flows around it. So Avi Networks, which was founded by two Cisco stalwarts, takes the software out the box and releases it into the cloud, giving it a liquidity to match the network it is supposed to be regulating, explains Moss.

Fair enough. But surely selling this software won’t give resellers the visceral thrill they had from delivering a box and then whacking in a thumping great invoice with a huge profit margin on top.

Those days are over. On top of that the Avi Networks software does a lot more. Load balancing boxes were built for old apps. But the software caters for the way modern cloud apps work. So, there’s a lot more sophisticated mapping involved.

The sale sounds a straight forward proposition. The clients can enjoy a 50 per cent saving on aspects of their cloud computing costs, rising to potentially 80 per cent cost cutting. After that, it’s a continuous revenue stream for the reseller.

With companies increasingly using multiple clouds, a decent cloud load balancer will be a must. “We’re entering a rapidly growing but well-established market and the resellers are going to be our route to market. It’s very exciting for everyone,” says Moss.

Happy days indeed. Maybe the good times are coming back. I miss those long lunches.

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