Saturday, April 12, 2014

flipping mission critical infrastructure vs. swapping mobile phones

Goldman issued a very interesting report this week on SDN battle between Cisco and VMware.  There is one thing I like the report and one thing I "dislike" it (personal view point only, absolutely no representation of my employer):

  • I like the linkage that Cisco ACI vs. VMware NSX is like iPhone vs. Android-Phone.  
    • For one thing Cisco has owned "IOS" for decades but kidding aside, Cisco (ACI) provides customers an integrated vertical seamless solution.  VMware (NSX) provides customers more choice in hardware but nothing end-to-end from networking solution perspective.
    • My Cisco colleagues often remind me networking protocols are open for decades, from Ethernet to BGP.  It is very true, but unfortunately the perception on the street is Cisco is a closed solution company.  I am hopeful that the recent intro of the OpFlex policy model and work in open source community including OpenStack will help to change the perception.
  • I hope the assumption that "Cisco will garner about 30% market share in its SDN infrastructure software served addressable market by 2018" is not true however.  Why not 60% or more for Cisco?  
    • There will continue to be differentiation in hardware, but I cannot imagine Cisco will be the dominant networking company if it only has 30% of the SDN market shares 5 years from now.  There is frankly a tremendous amount of work Cisco needs to do to get out of the comfort zone of selling boxes, starting from having a sense of paranoia.
    • It is a huge uphill battle VMware needs to fight in order to convince enterprise customers to swap infrastructure just like some of them flipped Apple's iPhone to Samsung's Galaxy, because the switch cost and potential damage is too high.
I know my Android geek friends may laugh at me but I am a big Apple iOS fan as I have the peace of mind that someone else has thought through the end-to-end story, user experiences, and tested a heck out of it.  This is why I appreciate SDN products that e2e physical and virtual networking troubleshooting and visibility is designed in on day 1.