Innovations - something I love in networking...

Make my life simpler!

Sadly I do not think there has been a lot of innovation in networking in recent memory that has really helped the networking professional to be more effective and efficient in their job. I would actually endeavor to say that in the past years many of the new capabilities and features have actually made the job of maintaining a network harder, not easier. How is this possible? I mean in the hey-day growth cycle of networking in the mid 1990's the main features and capabilities that we differentiated on and implemented has names/acronyms/abbreviations such as- EIGRP, EtherChannel, VTP, PVRST+, etc. I mean, these are household names right... ;) Maybe not at some dinner tables, but at a lunch counter in the Mandalay Bay convention center during Interop? Definitely. Actually I think it was the Dot.Com meltdown of 2001 that tore some of the larger incumbents away from the techno-centric development and started them focusing on market adjacencies in order to diversify their businesses to protect against future market fluctuations and corrections. It is true that a well diversified business can weather more storms than a single-vectored one. Mostly though I mourn the loss of innovation - where are the features and capabilities that focus on network operations? While we developed QoS where is a mechanism to ensure consistent classification policy? While voice was being developed on the 'network platform' how do we ensure call admission control/ Actually it is time, it is time for a new wave of innovations that do focus on the network operator, ones that simplify operations, keep the network stable, rapidly heal when fault or failure is detected, focus on MTTR as much as MTBF, and enable automation and management by machine/software, not just by CLI. Reflecting on the past you can see that focused operational innovations made the network giants of today successful, is it absurd to think that continued innovations in this space would continue to create competitive advantage? Is it wrong for customers to want a simpler infrastructure, an open platform, extensible management APIs, and a stable operating system. Thoughtful design has been lacking, and as always "we don't know what we don't know." So it begs the question, "what should we be building?" What does the networking industry need to do that will make operational jobs easier? Fifteen years ago it was a fast converging routing protocol that supported IP, IPX, and Appletalk concurrently. It was a mechanism of distributing and auto-pruning VLANs across a L2 switched infrastructure. It was a method of bonding multiple Ethernet interfaces into one logical port that failed over faster and didn't block most of the capacity. If the technologies that caused the creation of a network hegemony were operational focused, and today we are integrating storage, Ethernet, IP, low-latency, high-throughput, HPC, cluster, video, voice, and market data traffic all over a common infrastructure - what do we need to build for you to make your jobs easier? What are the top things you really wish a network vendor did now? dg

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