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Networking: Moving From Open to Closed (Part 2 of 2)

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  -- William Faulkner

In the first half of this blog, I explained how MSDCs are like mainframes and super computers. In this half I develop on my thesis that the networks connecting compute and storage resources within the MSDC are becoming proprietary just like they are in mainframes to create a competitive advantage.

Continuing from where I left off, the internal architecture of a mainframe is parallel to MSDC architectures as shown in the figure to the right.

Blog-Pic-4

Mainframe architectures were (and still are) proprietary, in that how the compute and storage resources are connected was an internal engineering design. Each vendor had their own internal design which served as a competitive differentiation. We are seeing the same thing happening in MSDCs. Read More »

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Networking: Moving From Open to Closed (Part 1 of 2)

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”  -- William Faulkner

Networking which is built on open standards is steadily moving to closed and proprietary protocols and going back to the past of mainframes with closed architectures and technologies. With Massively Scalable Data Centers (MSDC) the compute and storage resource are increasingly being connected in proprietary ways. The networks and protocols in these MSDCs is becoming proprietary and potentially moving away from the open TCP/IP standards. And that is a very worrisome trend, not speaking as a vendor but as a networking technologist, who has been in this industry for over 20 years. Let me explain why.

The rise of MSDCs and the growing IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) from the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google is well understood. This IaaS trend is causing more and more enterprises to move their infrastructure into these clouds, instead of buying and maintaining them. Obviously this is affecting networking infrastructure vendors, like Cisco, Juniper et al, and also managed service providers. The effect on infrastructure vendors is simple: their TAM is shrinking, and rapidly so. For managed service providers, the need for rich networking services, when enterprises maintained their own infrastructure, is dwindling rapidly as well. With IaaS, enterprises just need a simple connection to get to the Amazon, Microsoft and Google clouds and do not heavily depend on managed service providers. Usually the service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast are also managed service providers and are increasingly becoming cloud service providers as well to mitigate this effect and still be relevant to these enterprise customers. But, how is this making networking closed off?

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