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CEO: How SOTI software shoots to stand out

Technology vendors are distancing themselves from the term enterprise mobility management.

Earlier this month, BlackBerry CEO John Chen called enterprise mobility management (EMM) a “lousy market.” Meanwhile, SOTI Inc., in Mississauga, Ont., is aiming to become more of a household name in enterprise mobility by expanding into new areas.

“Anybody selling just EMM these days is a dinosaur,” SOTI CEO Carl Rodrigues said.

SOTI, which has 17,000 enterprise customers, offers products designed to address businesses’ various mobile needs, from managing and securing devices to building and supporting applications. SOTI software includes MobiControl for EMM, MobiAssist remote help desk software and SOTI Snap for mobile app development.

Here, Rodrigues discusses his company’s push into new areas, as well as changes in the EMM market.

What do mobile-minded organizations need to focus on besides EMM nowadays?

Rodrigues: In the first wave of companies needing EMM, they were just trying to manage office devices. We’re way past that. Mobile is becoming mission-critical to companies’ operations. Many are running completely on mobile, and they need to be able to create apps that run on mobile devices effectively and support remote workers.

Who can deliver a disruptive business with just EMM? You need to buy 10 other pieces of technology. To create an app, that can cost $800,000 to create one on an Android platform; then you need to do it again on Apple. RMAD [rapid mobile app development] tools eliminate that barrier. If companies know they don’t have to spend millions to get started, mobile becomes more accessible.

How has the EMM market changed, and how has SOTI software evolved to address that?

Customers [leveraging mobile] have many more problems than EMM.

Rodrigues: Customers have many more problems than EMM. Our platform tackles the core problems that our customers and IT have, from app generation to how to support your people out in the field.

SOTI software has some major competition in the EMM market. What sets you apart?

Rodrigues: There are other EMM solutions out there, but [those customers] need to buy a separate help desk solution. That’s not designed for the modern era. We can remote in to the mobile device and see what’s happening from the desktop.

What about joining forces with one of bigger players as the EMM market consolidates?

Rodrigues: They’ve all come to us and tried to purchase us. [Rodrigues declined to disclose which companies.] But why partner up when we have the better product?

If SOTI has the better product, why are other vendors doing better, and why isn’t SOTI ranked higher in market reports?

Rodrigues: Traditional analyst and market reports speak to outdated ways of evaluating businesses. Profitability is overlooked, with market share [valued] over profitability. The traditional way of looking at the EMM market is quickly becoming outdated and irrelevant.

But SOTI’s market-leading position has been validated by top analyst firms.

What is your favorite movie?

Rodrigues: The Spider-Man movies — the classic ones, with just Spider-Man. Now they have 95 other superheroes in one movie.

What is the best dish you cook?

Rodrigues: My family is from the Portuguese colony of Goa in India. One of the things I make is this special tea with cardamom and dark pepper. You use loose-leaf tea and cook it with the milk.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Rodrigues: After university, I visited Santorini in Greece. It’s a beautiful place. The food is amazing. 

Quorum OnQ solves Amvac Chemical’s recovery problem

Using a mix of data protection software, hardware and cloud services from different vendors, Amvac Chemical Corp. found itself in a cycle of frustration. Backups failed at night, then had to be rerun during the day, and that brought the network to a crawl.

The Los Angeles-based company found its answer with Quorum’s one-stop backup and disaster recovery appliances. Quorum OnQ’s disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) combines appliances that replicate across sites with cloud services.

The hardware appliances are configured in a hub-and-spoke model with an offsite data center colocation site. The appliances perform full replication to the cloud that backs up data after hours.

“It might be overkill, but it works for us,” said Rainier Laxamana, Amvac’s director of information technology.

Quorum OnQ may be overkill, but Amvac’s previous system underwhelmed. Previously, Amvac’s strategy consisted of disk backup to early cloud services to tape. But the core problem remained: failed backups. The culprit was the Veritas Backup Exec applications that the Veritas support team, while still part of Symantec, could not explain. A big part of the Backup Exec problem was application support.

“The challenge was that we had different versions of an operating system,” Laxamana said. “We had legacy versions of Windows servers so they said [the backup application] didn’t work well with other versions.

“We were repeating backups throughout the day and people were complaining [that the network] was slow. We repeated backups because they failed at night. That slowed down the network during the day.”

We kept tapes at Iron Mountain, but it became very expensive so we brought it on premises.
Rainier Laxamanadirector of information technology, Amvac

Quorum OnQ provides local and remote instant recovery for servers, applications and data. The Quorum DRaaS setup combines backup, deduplication, replication, one-click recovery, automated disaster recovery testing and archiving. Quorum claims OnQ is “military-grade” because it was developed for U.S. Naval combat systems and introduced into the commercial market in 2010.

Amvac develops crop protection chemicals for agricultural and commercial purposes. The company has a worldwide workforce of more than 400 employees in eight locations, including a recently opened site in the Netherlands. Quorum OnQ protects six sites, moving data to the main data center. Backups are done during the day on local appliances. After hours, the data is replicated to a DR site and then to another DR site hosted by Quorum.

“After the data is replicated to the DR site, the data is replicated again to our secondary DR site, which is our biggest site,” Laxamana said. “Then the data is replicated to the cloud. So the first DR location is our co-located data center and the secondary DR our largest location. The third is the cloud because we use Quorum’s DRaaS.”

Amvac’s previous data protection configuration included managing eight physical tape libraries.

“It was not fun managing it,” Laxamana said. “And when we had legal discovery, we had to go through 10 years of data. We kept tapes at Iron Mountain, but it became very expensive so we brought it on premises.”

Laxamana said he looked for a better data protection system for two years before finding Quorum. Amvac looked at Commvault but found it too expensive and not user-friendly enough. Laxamana and his team also looked at Unitrends. At the time, Veeam Software only supported virtual machines, and Amvac needed to protect physical servers. Laxamana said Unitrends was the closest that he found to Quorum OnQ.

“The biggest (plus) with Quorum was that the interface was much more user-friendly,” he said. “It’s more integrated. With Unitrends, you need a third party to integrate the Microsoft Exchange.”

IT Nation 2017: ConnectWise sets sights on a ‘connected ecosystem’

ORLANDO — ConnectWise has revealed a vision for a broad and connected ecosystem of third-party technology vendors that will plug into its PSA software.

At its IT Nation 2017 conference this week, the professional services automation (PSA) software provider discussed its push to bring a seemingly infinite variety of vendor integrations to ConnectWise partners through an upcoming Developer Kit. ConnectWise also highlighted its recent partnership with Cisco to make it easier for partners to use several Cisco technologies within its PSA software. ConnectWise currently integrates with about 200 vendors.

“The whole message [of IT Nation 2017] is really that of choices in the ecosystem, and then, ‘Let’s do more of that. Let’s connect the entire ecosystem,'” said Arnie Bellini, co-founder and CEO of ConnectWise.

Cisco integration

At last week’s Cisco Partner Summit, ConnectWise unveiled the pilot program for ConnectWise Unite, a new offering that lets Cisco partners use Cisco Spark, Meraki, Umbrella and Stealthwatch through the ConnectWise management console. In addition to Amazon Web Services, ConnectWise previously integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and Azure through its CloudConsole product, which Bellini said will be merged with Unite in the first quarter of 2018.

Cisco technologies available under Unite will eventually expand, according to Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions, architectures and engineering for the global partner organization at Cisco. “We definitely have some cloud-managed assets that we are also exploring to continue to evolve and have more offers enabled by the Unite platform,” he said.

Additionally, ConnectWise Unite will expand with other vendors, including Google, which Bellini said “is a perfect additional integration that we think will help drive more value for Cisco.” Google and Cisco announced a partnership around hybrid cloud at the Cisco Partner Summit.

The Cisco-ConnectWise partnership serves a means for Cisco to grow its market share in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) space, Sheth said, noting that Cisco is trying to change the perception that it is a vendor focused solely on the enterprise segment. This means working more closely with ConnectWise partners such as managed services providers (MSPs) that generally target SMB customers.

Cisco and ConnectWise plan to roll out MSP University, an enablement program for Cisco value-added resellers to expand into managed services. “We have committed to working with Cisco to create an amazing university that helps get Cisco partners started down the path of managed services,” Bellini said. He added that all ConnectWise partners will have access to MSP University as well.

Integrations ahead: The Developer Kit

ConnectWise has several releases on the integration front slated for 2018, the company revealed. Among these is the Developer Kit, a tool for development teams to connect products to the ConnectWise platform. The Developer Kit has a tentative launch date for the second quarter of 2018.

“The idea on the ConnectWise Developer Kit is … [to] make every solution available to our partners and … put it in one pane of glass … so they can manage it and monitor it and bill it,” Bellini said.

Bellini noted the company has put together a $10 million fund to support the Developer Kit initiative. Using the fund, which is provided through ConnectWise Capital, ConnectWise will act as an “angel investor,” investing in ideas that further connect the ecosystem, Bellini said. ConnectWise is looking to increase that fund to $25 million, he said.

Another unique feature of the Devloper Kit is that it allows channel partners to build their own integrations and customize their own experience in the ConnectWise platform without the need of development expertise. “If you want to develop with SDKs and APIs, we still have that, but we are making it easier,” said Craig Fulton, chief product officer at ConnectWise.

Gavin Gamber, vice president of channel sales and alliances, said ecosystem expansion has become a major initiative for ConnectWise leadership, driven by partner demand. Partners “are our best gauges on where we should be heading. … That’s how a lot of these integration partners pop up.”

He added that there are virtually no limits on how large the ConnectWise ecosystem could grow. “The ecosystem is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. With a large ecosystem of integrated partners to balance, he said there are “certainly sensitivities” pertaining to ConnectWise’s competing vendor partners, but “it all boils down to who has got the best solutions for the partner and fits their needs the best at a price that they like and is affordable.”

ConnectWise software enhancements

At the IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, ConnectWise showcased upcoming features of the ConnectWise suite, often to the applause of conference attendees.

ConnectWise Automate, the company’s automating tool, is being moved to the web and more tightly integrated with ConnectWise Manage. New web-based functions will include a computer management function and network map feature, slated for availability in the first quarter of 2018.

ConnectWise Automate “has been a tool you need to install on a Windows machine. Now we’re taking it to the web so you can now use it from any browser,” Fulton said.

Adding to remote control functionality, ConnectWise Perspective will provide a smartphone video connection between customers and technicians, available in the second quarter of 2018. Using the feature, customers can send a live video feed from their smartphones to technicians, creating an additional layer to a partner’s service delivery capabilities. Perspective will contain features for auto-scanning barcodes, recording session time and adding workstation information into tickets, ConnectWise said.

After Fulton demonstrated Perspective onstage during his IT Nation 2017 keynote presentation, he said he was surprised by the audience response to the upcoming feature. “I wasn’t sure how that was going to go, but man, that was the biggest applause. A lot of people approached me and said … ‘Now I can see what [customers] are seeing.'”

New Cisco ACI fabric stretches across multiple data centers

Cisco’s third major release of its Application Centric Infrastructure lets companies run the vendor’s software-defined networking architecture across multiple data centers, excluding those of the major public cloud providers.

Introduced Thursday, Cisco ACI 3.0 can provide network services to applications running in a maximum of five data centers. Each facility can run an ACI fabric with as many as 400 leaf switches.

Cisco has aimed its latest ACI fabric upgrade at large enterprises that want to expand their use of the policy-driven form of software-based networking from a single data center to several facilities. Companies demanding multisite networking are typically at the cutting edge of technology.

A recent survey of 200 IT organizations found 90% working on networking projects that spanned multiple data centers, according to analyst firm Enterprise Management Associates, based in Boulder, Colo. More than a quarter of those companies planned to connect five data centers or more.

With ACI 3.0, Cisco is providing a competitive product to sell to those companies, said EMA analyst Shamus McGillicuddy. “Multicloud and multidata fabrics are a must-have for these cutting-edge companies.”

Cisco ACI fabrics connect across data centers

Cisco is competing with virtualization vendor VMware in letting companies replicate the vendors’ respective application-centric networking environments so customers can manage a multisite configuration as one. The core of VMware’s approach is its NSX network overlay, while Cisco uses its hardware as the foundation.

Companies that want to access all the capabilities of ACI 3.0 will have to use Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) to build in each data center a networking fabric comprised of the vendor’s Nexus 9000 switches. Once that is done, the customer can connect each structure to an APIC-powered appliance that presents a single view of the multisite network.

From the appliance’s software console, network engineers can create and distribute application-centric traffic instructions to defined groups of switches in the form of policies. Also, management and monitoring tools can pull network and application performance data through the appliance’s APIC APIs.

ACI fabric’s multisite capabilities

Across multiple sites, ACI 3.0 can keep packet delivery to one second or less, said Srinivas Kotamraju, director of ACI product management at Cisco.  Traffic to an application that suddenly goes down in one data center can be redirected to a backup in another facility without changing the IP address.

Other multisite capabilities include taking a switch offline for maintenance or troubleshooting without disrupting the traffic flow. ACI 3.0 also provides latency monitoring between endpoints, such as ports and application tiers.

ACI 3.0 extends all policy-related functionality for virtual machines and bare-metal applications to containers in multiple sites. Cisco also provides integration between Kubernetes and ACI policies. Kubernetes is an open source system for managing Linux containers.

“The container stuff is most interesting for forward-looking developers and companies,” said Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass.

ACI 3.0 is not supported in public clouds, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform. Cisco plans to extend ACI fabric capabilities into public cloud environments using their respective APIs, Kotamraju said. Cisco has not provided a timetable.

Rival VMware has started to build a bridge between a customer’s virtualized data center and Amazon. The technology, however, remains a work in progress, with very few production deployments.

Top UC providers widen their lead in Gartner Magic Quadrant

While Gartner’s annual Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications closely examines vendors and their on-premises products, the report does not ignore the accumulation of cloud services. In fact, as the report pointed out, organizations investing in premises-centric technologies should vet the vendors’ cloud migration strategies and have a clear path toward cloud services with providers that are commercially and operationally viable.

Some unified communications (UC) vendors are expressing their cloud migration plans better than others. As a result, leading UC providers Cisco, Microsoft and Mitel are extending their market command and separating from the rest of the pack, said Mike Fasciani, a Gartner analyst and one of the authors of the report. 

While UC providers peddle cloud products, they’re still largely selling on-premises systems. According to Gartner, on-premises UC still accounts for 70% of the services sold in midsize and large enterprises. The market share for cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is growing, however, relative to on-premises UC services.

“On premises is still the most common deployment model, especially in large enterprises,” Fasciani said. “But, clearly, the growth is in the cloud.”

Everybody chasing Microsoft

The on-premises UC market is mature, Gartner said, meaning services are standardized and vendors’ products are quite comparable. On-premises voice communications, for instance, lacks room for further innovation. Now, UC providers are looking to innovate elsewhere, specifically in the cloud, hybrid deployments, communications platform as a service and contact centers.

Unified communications has seen ongoing consolidation among vendors and users. In this video, explore these key trends and more.

Magic Quadrant leaders Cisco and Microsoft, for example, have solid cloud migration strategies for customers, while also promoting hybrid deployment options. Cisco offers its Spark cloud service, while Microsoft offers cloud-based Office 365, as well as Skype for Business hybrid models.

Other vendors in the report are not quite keeping pace with cloud and hybrid options, Fasciani said, except for fellow Magic Quadrant leader Mitel, which is in the process of acquiring ShoreTel. Mitel has looked to grow its business through acquisitions, which could create problems as it tries to integrate a mix of UC products and partners, Gartner said. 

But Mitel ultimately needs to grow via acquisitions, since organic growth would take too long, Fasciani said. Mitel will be the main competitor to Cisco, he added, while everyone chases Microsoft.

“I think Microsoft is the threat to everybody, including Cisco, and that’s because of the popularity of cloud-based Office 365,” Fasciani said. “So many enterprises are interested and wondering if Office 365 and Skype for Business is the way to go.”

Some UC providers stumble

Perhaps the biggest change in this year’s Magic Quadrant compared to 2016 is Avaya dropped from the leaders group. In January 2017, Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reorganize its balance sheet and restructure debt. Avaya said last week it could emerge from bankruptcy in the fall.

While Avaya could come out of bankruptcy efficiently, it still needs to grow its business, Fasciani said. The question is: Can Avaya sell beyond voice and contact-center services? So far, it has not proven to be able to do that, he added. Avaya has strong brand recognition for its telephony, and its Zang service has developed cloud communication services with the help of a developer portal, Gartner said. 

Another notable drop in the Magic Quadrant is Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) falling from challenger to niche player. Paris-based ALE is owned by China Huaxin, an industrial investment company. Gartner questioned China Huaxin’s long-term commitment to ALE, because it has invested little in the UC business since buying it three years ago.

Additionally, ALE is focusing more of its business on Western Europe, which limits the vendor’s exposure in other parts of the world, Gartner said.

On premises and cloud merging

In the Magic Quadrant, Gartner evaluates UC providers in relation to each other and how they perform against one another. While the report focuses on premises-based services for midsize and large organizations, Gartner also acknowledges the importance of cloud offerings. The analyst firm covers cloud UC products in its UCaaS Magic Quadrant.

Fasciani said enterprises should be careful about signing a multiyear maintenance contract with an on-premises service. Organizations should also examine vendors’ plans to migrate customers to more innovative offerings during the lifecycle of a contract and make sure licensing plans entitle them to new services.

So many enterprises are interested and wondering if Office 365 and Skype for Business is the way to go.
Mike FascianiUC analyst at Gartner

The line is blurring between on-premises and cloud services, Fasciani said. An organization could buy a service from Cisco, for example, and maybe not realize what elements are cloud-based and which are on premises.

“We’re going to have to expand our thought process about how we cover the space and go more into the cloud-based deployment models to ensure we’re capturing everything the vendors are offering,” Fasciani said.

In this year’s UC Magic Quadrant, Cisco, Microsoft and Mitel were named leaders. Huawei and NEC were named challengers. Avaya and Unify were named visionaries. ALE and ShoreTel were named niche players. ShoreTel is in the process of being acquired by Mitel. Interactive Intelligence was dropped from this year’s report because it was acquired by Genesys, a contact-center vendor.

IoT device security bill mandates security standards

A piece of bipartisan legislation introduced this week would require vendors that sell to the U.S. government to meet certain IoT device security requirements.

The “Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017” was introduced by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) who co-chair the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, as well as Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.). The bill aims to improve IoT device security for products used in the government.

“Under the terms of the bill, vendors who supply the U.S. government with IoT devices would have to ensure that their devices are patchable, do not include hard-coded passwords that can’t be changed, and are free of known security vulnerabilities, among other basic requirements,” explained a statement from Senator Warner’s office announcing the act.

The senators collaborated with experts from the Atlantic Council and the Berklett Cybersecurity Project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University to craft the IoT device security bill. It also encourages security researchers to help find IoT device security vulnerabilities by adopting “coordinated vulnerability disclosure policies by federal contractors and providing legal protections to security researchers” who engage in “good-faith research” and exempt them “from liability under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when in (sic) engaged in research pursuant to adopted coordinated vulnerability disclosure guidelines.”

“I’ve long been making the case for reforms to the outdated and overly broad Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” said Senator Wyden in the statement. “This bill is a bipartisan, common-sense step in the right direction. This bill is designed to let researchers look for critical vulnerabilities in devices purchased by the government without fear of prosecution or being dragged to court by an irritated company. Enacting this bill would also help stop botnets that take advantage of internet-connected devices that are currently ludicrously easy prey for criminals.”

The IoT device security bill would require vendors to develop patchable devices that “rely on industry standard protocols, do not use hard-coded passwords, and do not contain any known security vulnerabilities.”

The bill also specifies that the Office of Management and Budget must develop other “network-level security requirements for devices with limited data processing and software functionality.”

Vendors such as Mozilla, Cloudflare, Neustar, Symantec and VMware have already endorsed the bill, and some security experts have spoken out about it as well, including security expert Bruce Schneier. In the statement from Senator Warner’s office, Schneier said, “The proliferation of insecure Internet-connected devices presents an enormous security challenge. The risks are no longer solely about data; they affect flesh and steel. The market is not going to provide security on its own, because there is no incentive for buyers or sellers to act in anything but their self-interests.” He added that he applauds Senator Warren and the others for “nudging the market in the right direction” with the IoT device security bill, as well as recognizing the “critical role played by security researchers.”

In other news

  • A threat actor known as 31337 allegedly breached the laptop of an analyst at security vendor Mandiant before leaking the information publicly and threatening to do the same to other security analysts. Multiple reports said a Pastebin page was set up to document information gathered from the analyst’s personal laptop, Microsoft and LinkedIn accounts. The Pastebin page, which has since been taken down, reportedly also included some of the Mandiant analyst’s work files. Though there’s no evidence that those files were obtained through a breach of Mandiant’s internal networks, the threat actor still claimed it breached the internal networks of FireEye, which owns Mandiant. FireEye has released several statements since the breach, but cannot confirm or deny the validity of the information posted on Pastebin or whether the company’s internal network was breached, though it has acknowledged that the employee’s laptop and social media accounts were breached, and that at least two customers were affected. The threat actor claims it is targeting security analysts as revenge for their work against hackers.
  • Anthem Health Insurance has reported another data breach that compromised the personal health information of 18,500 members. LaunchPoint Ventures, Anthem’s insurance coordination service provider, discovered in April 2017 that an employee was involved in “identity theft related activities,” according to a statement. In July, the company learned the employee had emailed Anthem member information to his personal account, violating LaunchPoint policies. The compromised data included Medicare ID numbers, Social Security numbers, Health Plan ID numbers, contract numbers, and dates of enrollment. The statement said there’s no evidence to show that the data has been misused since the breach, but the investigation is ongoing. In 2015, another Anthem breach compromised 80 million customer records, for which the company recently agreed to a $115 million settlement.
  • Amazon has said that it will stop selling Blu Products Android phones following accusations that the phones use spyware. Ryan Johnson, research engineer and co-founder of mobile security company Kryptowire, based in Fairfax, Va., said in his Black Hat presentation that the Chinese company Shanghai Adups Technology was using spyware called Adups on at least two Android phones and collecting personal identifiable information without user consent. Blu has been criticized for using Adups despite the company’s use of spyware. As a result, Amazon said it will stop selling the Blu phones, though they are still currently available to purchase on the site. Blu Products disputes the claims that there is any spyware or malware on their devices, saying “these are inaccurate and false reports.”

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Does Mojo have the mojo to change WLAN architecture?

Wireless access point vendors make a 70% margin on every AP sold by the WLAN architecture industry, a profit blogger Lee Badman shares in his analysis of a Mojo Networks’ presentation at a recent Mobility Field Day in San Jose, Calif. Mojo, Badman wrote, is attempting to disrupt the way WLAN architecture  is delivered through a strategy that combines commodity-priced APs, switches and security appliances, all of which are cloud-managed in an open source framework.

Badman praised Mojo CEO Rick Wilmer for his approach, which he believes will help users avoid the pitfalls of being trapped by limited feature sets offered by individual WLAN architecture vendors.

“Cloud management, software-defined everything, and open hardware standards CAN replace bloated, proprietary systems as shown in different examples made by Wilmer’s team in presentations that came after his,” Badman said in Wirednot. “But just as significant is Mojo’s idea of a new business model that flies in the face of convention, and could capitalize on the success of the Open Compute Project (OCP) in building white box data center components as that model stretches into wireless access,” he added.

Dig deeper into Badman’s thoughts on the WLAN industry, and what Mojo is trying to do.

Cloud testing shifts toward operations

Mark Peters, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., sees testing — in addition to data protection and archiving — as one of the most popular uses for public cloud. Public cloud offers a safe sandbox, shielding production data from errors in testing while offering ample scale or speed to run experiments. According to Peters, the flexibility of modern clouds is enabling IT teams to develop and test operational infrastructures in the cloud as well.

This new approach grants IT teams the flexibility to try out a variety of different infrastructure platforms with different hardware, hypervisors or operating systems. After optimizing in the cloud, it is easier for teams to build data centers to specification. “Just as with the DevTest of apps, the DevTest of ops can help deliver better IT outcomes (which means less risk and more certainty of achieving whatever your target is) to your organization,” Peters added.

Read more of Peters’ thoughts on testing in the cloud.

IoT drives the evolution of network management

Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., said IoT challenges are forcing network managers to update their network monitoring and management systems. EMA research suggests that existing network monitoring tools and practices are inadequate in handling IoT. Among 100 survey respondents, 52% said that IoT worsened blind spots. Scalability was the most cited problem, identified by 26%, while others noted high rates of change and a lack of granularity in monitoring.

In response, EMA found that enterprises are modifying their existing tools to give them the data they need. In other cases, teams upgrade licenses for monitoring tools, install network visibility controllers or improve granularity of monitoring.  The survey also found that 68% of network teams were expanding their tools to manage IoT. “IoT devices present another challenge to network operations, because network teams often take ownership of certain elements of the IoT device lifecycle. … Many network managers will find that their tools do not natively support IoT devices. They will have to modify the tools themselves or ask their vendors to customize the tools,” McGillicuddy said. 

Explore more of McGillicuddy’s thoughts on network management for IoT. 

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Riverbed, Talari, Cisco bolster SD-WAN vendor product lines

Vendors are scrambling to make their SD-WAN product lines more competitive in a market that IDC predicts will grow by nearly 70% annually through 2021. Providers who bolstered their offerings this week to ride that growth include Cisco, Riverbed Technology and Talari Networks.

Cisco sought to improve its competitive posture in the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) market with the completion of the Viptela acquisition announced in May. Viptela brings to Cisco customers a quicker return on investment than the vendor’s competing intelligent WAN (IWAN), analysts said.

IWAN is a WAN optimization-based product that uses Cisco’s ISR routers. Viptela is a pure-play SD-WAN product that includes virtualized routers running on less expensive x86 boxes.

Cisco said it would continue to invest in, and support, IWAN. However, the company has not said whether it would continue to advance Viptela on x86 systems. Instead, Cisco said it would incorporate Viptela technology on ISR and ASR routers and “customers will be able to migrate to the new unified solution as needed or desired.”

Cisco, Talari and Riverbed are among two dozen SD-WAN vendors battling for a slice of the crowded market, which IDC forecasts will grow from $574.2 million in 2016 to $8.05 billion in 2021. To build a broader SD-WAN platform, vendors are adding APIs that let partners tie in network and security services, such as WAN optimization, firewalls and IP address management.

WAN optimization added to Talari SD-WAN product line

Talari added WAN optimization features to its product and made them available at no extra cost. Also, it partnered with cloud-based security vendor Zscaler Inc. to provide customers with an alternative to on-premises firewalls for internet traffic.

The WAN-optimization features include congestion controls and data compression and deduplication. Talari said the features improve the efficiency of bulk data transfers from a single location.

Optimizing traffic flows is what Talari presents as its market differentiator. The vendor’s analytics factor in packet loss, latency, jitter and bandwidth in selecting the best traffic path.

Riverbed SD-WAN to get wireless integration

Riverbed’s biggest differentiator among SD-WAN vendors is its roots in WAN optimization — technology at the core of the company’s business since its founding in 2002. This year, Riverbed acquired Wi-Fi vendor Xirrus Inc. to integrate its wireless LAN technology into SD-WAN.

Riverbed plans to release this year the initial integration of Xirrus access points and switches to SteelConnect Manager, which is Riverbed’s SD-WAN management console. Riverbed already provides integration between SteelConnect and SteelCentral, the vendor’s network performance monitoring tool, and SteelHead, its WAN optimization technology.

The developing Riverbed, Talari and Cisco SD-WAN products reflect market trends driving sales. Factors making SD-WAN a hot ticket among companies are the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications, mobile devices and the internet of things. The three have substantially increased the amount of data flowing from corporate networks to the internet, a scenario requiring management technology more flexible than legacy systems.

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