Why We’ll Colonize Mars Before Cisco Understands Software

  Over thirty years ago – ouch -- I joined Cisco as its very first marketing hire, tasked with giving them a more professional image than “Stanford grad students run amok” in preparation for their IPO. But during my six-year posting, I also got to witness Cisco’s first attempt to build an actual software solution, a now long-forgotten SNMP management platform called NetCentral Station. After throwing significant R&D and marketing capital at NetCentral Station over the next year or so, Cisco threw in the towel.  As its product manager prophetically told me in the end days, “We should never have entered a business we know nothing about.”  A decade later her words remained prescient.  Then I was working for a small startup comprising networking software developers who had previously been acquired by Cisco for quite a high valuation because of their VoIP expertise.  Cisco followed good business practices – in their view -- and locked down the founders for three years by detailing an extensive scope of work for software development that they had to complete before they would be allowed to leave the company.  

Viable Open Networking Automation Solution Comes to the SLED Market

  Automation is increasingly required to keep up with growing access network requirements, which are forcing organizations to add new switches and/or replace older switches with higher-capacity models at an accelerated rate. With precious few experienced network engineers and technicians in-house, it’s difficult to deploy large numbers of these switches manually – hence the need for automation. The “gotcha” here is that automation software from legacy networking vendors, such as Cisco, is so expensive as to be out of reach for many organizations. This is particularly the case for users in state/local government and education (SLED) markets, for example, who must operate within very tight budgets to make effective use of taxpayer and donor dollars. Shelling out tens or hundreds of thousands for a Cisco DNA Center automation package is tough to justify. It’s a situation that has users taking a very hard look at whether open, white/brite box networking hardware paired with automation software for open switches and enterprise workflows can meet their needs at a cost that’s more in line with budget realities. In a word, the answer is now, “Yes.”

A New Solution for SLED: Open, Automated White Box Networks

  Operators of state and local government networks; K-12 networks; and higher education networks have long had to lean heavily on automation tools to deploy, configure, and manage their campus and access switching infrastructure due to the combination of multiple remote sites paired with lean IT support staffs.  This, in turn, has made them extremely dependent on the, at times extraordinarily pricey, automation tools served up to them by their vendors.  With Pica8’s first-of-its-kind automation framework explicitly designed for these networks they are captive no more.

Pica8's Pika Update from Dell Technologies World


The New Enterprise Requirement: Full Lifecycle Network Automation

Enterprise campus and access networks are growing increasingly complex at a pace far faster than companies can grow their available technical networking engineering support staff, who by the same token are becoming increasingly unaffordable. In this environment, automation is no longer an option: it’s become a mandate.

Come See Pica8 at Dell Technologies World – and Help Save a Real-Life Pika

Having been around the block a time or two, I’ve seen my share of trade show event booth giveaways and all manner of tchotchkes, most of which find their way to a trash can before the visitor gets home. For the upcoming Dell Technologies World 2019 in Las Vegas, we wanted to do something different –

No Time Like the Present for Network Automation

        The time has come for IT to once again dive into the world of homegrown automation for running their networks.Network teams have a love/hate relationship with automation, and have had for decades. Time after time, they have tentatively extended the reach of automation, working with everything from PERL scripts, CLIs, and screen scrapes to Python and proper APIs in an effort to reduce the tedium of managing the enterprise campus, WAN, and data center networks. When network teams find ways to waste less time on rote work, they make IT more responsive.

Counting Up the Benefits that Leaf-Spine Architecture Brings to Enterprise Networks

  If your network, like most, is growing in size and complexity, perhaps it’s time to consider whether the traditional three-tier network architecture has run its course. It’s becoming apparent that a flatter, two-tier leaf spine network topology can bring dramatic changes in the way we manage networks – with as good or better performance.