WLAN Vendors Differentiate By Business Value And Market Focus, Not Technology

Andre Kindness

Forrester brought the wireless Forrester Wave™ back from the grave after an end-of-life announcement of it in 2007. Too many wireless innovations and changes in the vendor landscape have emerged not to dig it up and examine today’s solutions. The Forrester Wave: Wireless Local Area Network Solutions evaluated 10 wireless systems — Aerohive Solution, Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks, Cisco Aironet, Cisco Meraki, Fortinet Secure Wireless LAN, HP FlexNetwork WLAN, Meru Networks WLAN, Motorola Solutions WLAN,Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products, and Xirrus Wireless— using 300 criteria asked in 58 questions . Besides the photo finish at the top, the wireless Forrester Wave reinforced what we were seeing and the reasons why the Forrester Wave needed to be resurrected:

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Apple's iWatch Will Impact Workforce Enablement And Customer Interactions

JP Gownder

Tomorrow, Apple will reportedly unveil its wearable device, widely dubbed "iWatch" (though we don't yet know for certain what Apple will actually call the device). I'll be at the event in person along with a number of Forrester analysts. In advance of the event, my colleague James McQuivey and I have released two new reports -- one targeted at CMOs and one targeted at I&O professionals -- to preview what we think this release will mean. 

We've been thinking about the ramifications for several months, though we held the report until right before the event. I've been writing about wearables for well over a year, and back in February I authored a column for ComputerWorld in which I laid out what we would hope to see in the perfect smartwatch. Some of the elements of a perfect smartwatch I emphasized then were:

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Salesforce Wear Continues To Drive Wearable Innovations

JP Gownder

Today Salesforce.com offered a formal update on its Salesforce Wear offering (which I wrote about at its release here). Salesforce Wear is a set of developer tools and reference applications that allows enterprises to create applications for an array of wearable devices and link them to Salesforce1, a cloud based platform that connects customers with apps and devices.

Salesforce’s entry into the wearables space has been both bold and well-timed. Salesforce Wear constitutes a first mover in the wearables platform space; while Android Wear offers a platform, it only reaches Android Wear based devices – unlike Salesforce Wear, which operates across a wide array of wearable devices. While it’s early to market, it’s not too early: Enterprises in a wide array of verticals are leveraging wearables worn by employees or by customers to redesign their processes and customer experiences, as I have written.

With today’s announcement, Salesforce:

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VMworld – Reflections on a Transformational Event

Richard Fichera

A group of us just published an analysis of VMworld (Breaking Down VMworld), and I thought I’d take this opportunity to add some additional color to the analysis. The report is an excellent synthesis of our analysis, the work of a talented team of collaborators with my two cents thrown in as well, but I wanted to emphasize a few additional impressions, primarily around storage, converged infrastructure, and the  overall tone of the show.

First, storage. If they ever need a new name for the show, they might consider “StorageWorld” – it seemed to me that just about every other booth on the show floor was about storage. Cloud storage, flash storage, hybrid storage, cheap storage, smart storage, object storage … you get the picture.[i] Reading about the hyper-growth of storage and the criticality of storage management to the overall operation of a virtualized environment does not drive the concept home in quite the same way as seeing 1000s of show attendees thronging the booths of the storage vendors, large and small, for days on end. Another leading indicator, IMHO, was the “edge of the show” booths, the cheaper booths on the edge of the floor, where smaller startups congregate, which was also well populated with new and small storage vendors – there is certainly no shortage of ambition and vision in the storage technology pipeline for the next few years.

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Extremes of x86 Servers Illustrate the Depth of the Ecosystem and the Diversity of Workloads

Richard Fichera

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about application-specific workloads and architectures (Optimize Scalalable Workload-Specific Infrastructure for Customer Experiences), and it got me to thinking about the extremes of the server spectrum – the very small and the very large as they apply to x86 servers. The range, and the variation in intended workloads is pretty spectacular as we diverge from the mean, which for the enterprise means a 2-socket Xeon server, usually in 1U or 2U form factors.

At the bottom, we find really tiny embedded servers, some with very non-traditional packaging. My favorite is probably the technology from Arnouse digital technology, a small boutique that produces computers primarily for military and industrial ruggedized environments.

Slightly bigger than a credit card, their BioDigital server is a rugged embedded server with up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB SSD and a very low power footprint. Based on an Atom-class CPU, thus is clearly not the choice for most workloads, but it is an exemplar of what happens when the workload is in a hostile environment and the computer maybe needs to be part of a man-carried or vehicle-mounted portable tactical or field system. While its creators are testing the waters for acceptance as a compute cluster with up to 4000 of them mounted in a standard rack, it’s likely that these will remain a niche product for applications requiring the intersection of small size, extreme ruggedness and complete x86 compatibility, which includes a wide range of applications from military to portable desktop modules.

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Wearables Shouldn’t Be An Exercise In Screen Miniaturization

JP Gownder

Too many wearables today have screens that look like miniaturized smartphones.

Just as smartphones shouldn’t be PC screens shrunk down to a 4-5” screen, smartwatches shouldn’t look like smartphones shrunk to 1”. Nor is it a matter of responsive web design (RWD), which resizes web content to fit the screen.

Samsung's Gear 2 looks like a tiny smartphone screen.

Instead, it’s a different type of design philosophy – one with DNA in the mobile revolution, and then extending mobile thinking even further.

Let’s start with the concept of mobile moments. As my colleagues write in The Mobile Mind Shift, mobile moments are those points in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context. In the case of wearables, the wearer often won’t need to pull out a device – it’s affixed to her wrist, clothing, or eyeglasses. But she might need to lift her wrist, as a visitor to Disney World must do with MagicBand.

Now we’re getting closer to what wearables should be. But there are additional dimensions to wearables that obviate the need for pixel-dense screens:

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As You Prepare for VMworld 2014, Educate Yourself On Digital Workspace Technologies

David Johnson
Bill Gates said "People everywhere love Windows.” Whether or not you agree, the fact that Microsoft Windows remains the de facto standard for business productivity after nearly 3 decades, suggests that many still do. But as the sales figures of Microsoft’s competitors suggest, people everywhere love lots of other things too. And one of the reasons they love them so much is that they like to get things done, and sometimes that means getting away from the office to a quiet place, or using a technology that isn’t constrained by corporate policies and controls, so they can be freer to experiment, grow their skills and develop their ideas uninhibited.
 
Technology managers I speak with are aware of this, but they’re justifiably paranoid about security, costs, and complexity. So the result of these conflicting forces coming together is inspiring rapid innovation in a mosaic of technologies that Forrester collectively calls digital workspace delivery systems. It involves many vendors, including Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Dell, nComputing, Amazon Web Services, Fujitsu, AppSense, Moka5, and more. The goal of our work is to help companies develop their capabilities for delivering satisfying Microsoft Windows desktop and application experiences to a wide range of users, devices, and locations.
 
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Make Your Next Storage Array An App

Henry Baltazar

Storage has been confined to hardware appliance form factors for far too long.  Over the past two decades, innovation in the storage space has transitioned from proprietry hardware controllers and processors to proprietary software running on commodity X86 hardware.  The hardware driving backup appliances, NAS systems, iSCSI arrays, and object storage systems, are often quite similar in terms of processors and components, yet despite this fact I&O professionals are still used to purchasing single purpose systems which lock customers into a technology stack. 

Over the past few years, companies such as HP (StoreVirtual VSA), Nexenta, Sanbolic and Maxta have released software-only storage offerings to complete head to head with proprietrary hardware appliances, and have found some success with cost conscious enterprises and service providers.  The software-only storage revolution is now ready for primetime with startup offerings now reaching maturity and established players such as IBM, EMC and NetApp jumping into the market.

I&O professionals should consider software only storage since: 

The storage technology acquisition process is broken.  Any storage purchase you complete today will be bound to your datacenter for the next 3 to 5 years.  When business stakeholders and clients need storage resources for emerging use cases such as object storage and flash storage, these parties often do not have the luxury of time to wait for storage teams to complete RFPs and product evaluations.  With software-only storage access to new technology can be accelerated to meet the provisioning velocity needs of customers.

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CEM For Telcos: Just Started With A Lot More Potentials

Bryan Wang

Telcos across the world — and especially mobile operators — are now struggling with increasing network complexity and lower customer satisfaction due to exploding data traffic, decreasing ARPU, and OTTs marginalizing their opportunities to generate new revenues via content. The Japanese market, with one of the highest ARPUs, has been the battlefield for technology providers to offer local telcos to services their high-value customers in a country where people have very high expectations of telecommunications services. Two weeks ago, I participated in Nokia Networks’ analyst days in Tokyo and was interested to see how the company has increased its share in Japan in the past couple of years. To continue its success in the age of the customer, Nokia Networks must help Japanese telcos better win, serve, and retain customers.

Two days of briefings and discussions convinced me that Nokia Networks’ must address three critical items to maintain its leadership position in LTE radio in Japan:

  1. Optimizing its networks to make its coverage and performance the best it can be in this very high-density market.
  2. Introducing customized features from its Japan R&D lab to meet the most demanding operators in the world.
  3. Helping telcos meet or overfulfill their customers’ expectations via a customer experience management (CEM) solution, although the revenue contribution is much smaller. Obviously, what customers experience and perceive are what really decides how effective all of the network improvements have been.
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Watch Out! Networking Professionals Can Be Fired For Buying The Market Leader

Andre Kindness

The recent business articles about customers screaming for change, such as Bloomberg’s recently published article about Goldman Sachs’ CIO threatening Cisco, conjures up images of Dee Snider busting through the wall and screaming, “OH, WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! WE'VE GOT THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE, AND THERE AIN'T NO WAY WE'LL LOSE IT! THIS IS OUR LIFE.” Connecting customers, employees, and business resources has become a life-or-death element for businesses (see The Enterprise Network Enables Business Innovation).

Am I being overly dramatic? I would like you to name a technology that the entire market openly voiced their displeasure about and forced a market leader to come up with a new strategy like Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure. Sure, the market has gone through transitions like the movement from fat access points to controller-based access points and the implementation of server virtualization, but the difference between those transitions and the current one is that these technologies were created before customers demanded them.

Now we have customers defining what they want before the technology exists or even creating their solutions, such as:

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