|Issue:||Europe II 2014|
|Topic:||Trend spotting – A CIO’s guide to SDN|
Bask Iyer is Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President, Technology & Business Operations. He oversees Juniper Networks’ technology and business operations that support a $4.4 billion global networking innovation company. Since joining Juniper in mid-2011, Iyer sponsored two key programs, to champion enterprise IT needs and better support the business, including Juniper on Juniper and Customer #1. Iyer’s role was recently expanded to include business transformation, global business services, IT, and real estate workplace services, all critical services for Juniper’s long-term success.
Iyer joined Juniper from Honeywell, where he served as company-wide CIO, responsible for the overall IT operations and strategy that supported 120,000 employees globally. Previous roles in Honeywell included CIO, Transportation Systems and General Manager, Asia Pacific. Earlier in his career, Iyer served as CIO at GlaxoSmithKline Beecham for consumer healthcare research and development, and was the corporation’s e-commerce leader. He also held senior positions at Johnson & Johnson, CTS Corporation, and ran a retail business in India.
As a noted speaker, Iyer has participated on many panel discussions addressing IT-related topics, including the Churchill Club, CIO Global Forum, HMG CIO Executive Leadership Summit, and Microsoft Global CIO Summit. He frequently shares insights via his CIO Perspective blog and tweets @baskiyer. He has also served as Juniper’s spokesman in Forrester’s report on “Building for the Next Billion” and Economist Intelligence Unit’s report on “Can IT Keep Up With Exponential Growth?”. Outside of Juniper, Iyer is an active member with several organizations: Center for Corporate Innovation, Fisher Silicon Valley CIO Roundtable, Sierra Ventures CIO Board, and Silicon Valley CIO Roundtable. He recently joined Sutter Hill Ventures Customer Advisory Board.
Iyer holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Annamalai University in India and a master’s degree in computer science from Florida Institute of Technology.
It is not easy to see beyond the hype that surrounds SDP right now. However, it is important to recognize new opportunities to get ahead with early implementation or experimentation of new technology. Some companies are RIO centric and do not appreciate additional benefits, such as creating an agile environment for innovation. Technologies like SDN are a sea change for the industry, not a passing fashion, and CIOs must be able to identify the prospects and benefits in their own business. In choosing a vendor for such technologies, CIOs need to consider vendors’ previous performance and their program of investment into the future.
Since CIOs are at the intersection of rapidly evolving business and technology environments, any news of new technology can quickly go viral. A recent technology trend to evaluate is software defined networking (SDN). With a lot of hype surrounding SDN (IDC predicts it will be a US$2 billion market by 2016), CIOs are wondering if making big bets on SDN will make an impact on operations and the bottom line.
It’s important to take a hard look at what’s being said and where, to determine whether or not the news is really buzz worthy. Being a CIO of a networking company, many of my peers naturally ask for my advice on the latest trends related to their company’s infrastructure, and I do my best to offer an honest, candid opinion. Ultimately, though, each CIO needs to do their own thorough analysis on whether to integrate new hardware or software into their network. Throughout my career, I’ve seen plenty of technology trends come and go, each promising a new solution to any one of these ongoing struggles. Here are three key questions I ask as I consider new trends.
What’s the Buzz All About?
In my opinion, there is a lot of hype around SDN now, which can make it easy to be sceptical. When doing research, it’s important to look at the source of the information. With buzz mostly coming from technology companies, the investor community and people running very large networks or small software start-ups, you have to ask yourself: is it a reputable third party, or a vendor? If it’s a vendor, do they have an authentic and complete SDN story? Is there a clear and easy roadmap to follow?
Is it Worth Experimenting On?
It is critical to evaluate whether any new technology will provide a decent ROI while solving a specific business problem. While you’ll always have the bottom line in mind, it’s also important to experiment. Too often CIOs and IT departments are too pragmatic and too ROI centric, that they miss or don’t see innovation opportunities. The beginning stages of a technology trend often provide the best opportunity to work with vendors and get your enterprise requirements met for the long-term.
Cloud computing went through its own hype cycle. Back in 2010, Juniper decided to migrate as much as we could to the cloud on a three-year time horizon. Then, last year, we evolved our thinking from moving everything to the cloud to making ourselves ask “Why Not Cloud?”, and processing each analysis through that filter to determine what we do and don’t migrate. We’ve embraced cloud for Saas, PaaS and IaaS deployments, adjusting our thinking and strategy accordingly to leverage cloud-based resources along with applications that may never move to the cloud.
Cloud Computing analysis reports show that moving to the cloud has decreased performance challenges (63%), simplified management process (70%), reduced cost of infrastructure (63%) and alleviated internal resource pressure (74%). Similar to server virtualization and storage virtualization, originally hyped as a way to save money on hardware and reduce energy costs, CIOs are likely to see benefits to SDN such as a more agile and flexible network, as we move away from the hype toward implementation.
Who will be the winners?
While experimenting is key, it’s important to do so with your eyes wide open. CIOs must find the right balance to understand when adopting a new technology is best for your business.
When I look at adopting a new technology, I look for a vendor that is committed to open standards. However, open standards evolve and change and de facto standards sometimes emerge, so vendors must evolve with the standards to avoid getting left behind. It’s important for CIOs to hold vendors accountable to align with and commit to emerging standards, innovating where required and leveraging established industry standards where they can. Also, what does a vendor’s R&D investment look like? SDN is in the early stages and you’ll need a partner who is investing in the future.
In this context, past performance is a strong indicator of future delivery. CIOs should be sure their chosen vendor can sustain R &D and innovation. The company must be able to stand behind the product, provide support, and spend the time to educate the CIO especially in critical infrastructure areas and when it comes to new emerging technologies.
Some trends will come and go, while others, like SDN, are sea changes for the industry. To be able to tell the difference, CIOs must focus on adding value to their companies versus chasing the next gadget craze or silver bullet technology that is promising to fix all their problems. CIOs must elevate their own position within their companies by providing new technology that allows for a sustainable advantage and differentiate from the competition.
Customer case study
The company is a leading business Internet service provider (ISP) and managed cloud provider that was founded in 2001. The company, which has been growing by leaps and bounds, operates in 30 data centres with 1,000 equipment racks and 10,000 servers delivering advanced telecommunications and hosting services to more than 800 customers all across Europe. The company delivers services ranging from IP VPNs, IP telephony, and hosting services.
This company faces the same problem many telecom and cloud providers do – provisioning the network in their virtualized data centre takes too long. Because they offer cloud computing and hosting services to multiple customers, they require customer traffic to be securely segmented. Today they rely on VLANs to provide this customer segmentation, but the current approach limits both scale and agility. The company also uses a well-known commercial virtualization platform, but this platform lacks the advanced networking capabilities that are required to keep pace with dynamically changing customer requirements. Finally, the company is leveraging a custom-built OpenStack based orchestration tool, and it is looking for alternatives that will integrate with this orchestration platform.
The company is currently in beta testing, evaluating Juniper’s SDN solutions for several months. They have been impressed with its ability to automate the provisioning of virtual networks, and to orchestrate network connectivity across public, private, and hybrid clouds whilst also able to integrate seamlessly with their existing OpenStack-based orchestration system.