August 15, 2014
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:
- Google. Starting eight years, Google decided to transition from buying networking hardware from traditional networking vendors to designing and building their own networking hardware.
- AT&T. Last year, AT&T launched their Domain 2.0 initiative to transform their network using SDN and NFV suppliers.
- Open Networking Users Group (ONUG). Members of ONUG — FedEX, Gap, Bank of America, Citigroup, UBS, and Credit Suisse, to name a few — wrote their own Magna Carta that outlined six elements to be included in future network solutions.
- Goldman Sachs, Coca-Cola, and Verizon. According to news articles, these companies have let Cisco know that their purchase orders will be diverted to solutions that provide their organizations more efficiency and higher flexibility to match their customers’ dynamic tastes.
I want to be very clear. This isn’t about customers’ frustration with Cisco but the networking market. Over the last 20-plus years, customers have always had a large pool of vendors offering hardware at ¼ of the price. Customer frustration isn’t about networking hardware costs but aligning network capabilities to the business, not technology criteria. Infrastructure and operations professionals can’t afford to be lazy and go with the biggest box, largest market leader, or the lowest-cost switch. Businesses need a business- and customer-centric-driven network. Manufacturing lines, retail stores, or aircraft can’t and won’t be driven by applications or a few networking illuminati (see A Tsunami Of Empowerment Will Hit Your Network With The Internet Of Things). I’ve already talked to leading networking professionals who can give detailed information on how the network created new revenue streams, helped the business win new customers, and increased customer retention. Can you? If not, business leaders at Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, and AT&T won’t let that slide and will find someone who can.