Implications of Virtualization and Cloud

What happens to network professionals and vendors if the pendulum continues to swing?

I am sitting here in my green chair at home listening to 'Desperado' by the Eagles and reading my friend Greg Ness' recent piece on Infrastructure 2.0.  I've done a few panel discussions with Greg in the past, including a really fun one at the FiRE conference earlier this year, and yet in a past life at the same time.Greg makes some interesting points though about how infrastructure needs to change, and he used the example of an industrial-era factory.  In manufacturing we saw a major shift in the the past decades from traditional build-warehouse-sell-ship models to just-in-time manufacturing.  I remember my father studying for weeks for his APICs tests as this major shift was rolled throughout major manufacturing shops and the new processes were put in place.  (Coincidentally, Dad ended up as the first CFPIM in AT&T/Western Electric/Lucent back then, although I really didn't have any appreciation for that at the time but learned that I must avoid a career in manufacturing planning at all costs at my dad's knee)IT is at a similar precipice- will we move from build it they will come 'Field of Dreams' models to a Just-in-Time IT architecture?  What will the impact be on the infrastructures we have built?  What will the impact be on the role of the network?  My fear, that may be unfounded - but worth discussing, is that the next wave of IT value will not be delivered by the network but instead by software and virtualization platforms.  Systems vendors, such as HP, are moving to reduce the network to dumb plumbing.  Budgets seem to be shifting to projects that directly influence the business top/bottom-line, and away from 'plain ol' infrastructure'.  As someone who has spent the majority of my professional career as a 'network guy' I really don't like this- but if I accept that this may actually be happening I have to ask the question -- If the pendulum is shifting to software and virtualization projects, if the network is getting taken for granted or worse being seen as a 'blocker' to the deployment of these newer models, what should network professionals do and what should networking vendors build to be a part of this architectural transition?


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