Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner


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Over the past few years in the networking industry, various vendors have claimed they offer clients a choice where there was none before. Really?! Over the past eight years, the networking industry has maintained at least 14 Layer 2 and Layer 3 networking vendors, 13 WAN optimization vendors, 12 Wi-Fi vendors, nine application delivery controller (ADC) vendors, and too many management
and monitoring solutions to count. This means that we can create more than half a million different variations of Layer 2 through 7 networks. The multivendor approach is dying, however. This report examines the reasons that infrastructure and operations (I&O) personnel are embracing the strategic
business partnership models used by firms like Wal-Mart, IBM, and Toyota instead of setting up partnerships with companies that have the cheapest or the best-of-breed wares.

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Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner

  1. 1. February 16, 2012Source Your Network ArchitectureFrom A Strategic Partnerby Andre Kindnessfor Infrastructure & Operations Professionals Making Leaders Successful Every Day
  2. 2. For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals February 16, 2012 Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner Dual-Sourcing Your Network Just Results In Low-Cost, Low-Value Infrastructure by Andre Kindness with Laura Koetzle, Christopher Voce, and Eric Chi Execut i v e S u m ma ryOver the past few years in the networking industry, various vendors have claimed they offer clientsa choice where there was none before. Really?! Over the past eight years, the networking industryhas maintained at least 14 Layer 2 and Layer 3 networking vendors, 13 WAN optimization vendors,12 Wi-Fi vendors, nine application delivery controller (ADC) vendors, and too many managementand monitoring solutions to count. This means that we can create more than half a million differentvariations of Layer 2 through 7 networks. The multivendor approach is dying, however. This reportexamines the reasons that infrastructure and operations (I&O) personnel are embracing the strategicbusiness partnership models used by firms like Wal-Mart, IBM, and Toyota instead of setting uppartnerships with companies that have the cheapest or the best-of-breed wares.tabl e of Con ten ts N OT E S & RE S O URCE S 2 New Business Demands Strain Legacy This report leverages the many conversations Approaches To Networking Forrester analysts have with I&O professionals, The Old Purchasing Approach: Multivendor software vendors, and industry thought Network Cost Savings Loses Steam leaders. Recommendations are inspired by good practices observed within a variety of I&O 3 Build Your Network Around Strategic Partnerships Instead organizations. Tightly Coupled Solutions Move Past The Data Related Research Documents Center Walls “The Data Center Network Evolution: Three Core Strategic Partnerships Lower Operational Costs Network Management Tools” In Many Ways August 10, 2011 World Class Companies Achieve Better Results “Accenture Provides Truly Integrated M&A With Strategic Partnerships Services, Backed By Strong Industry Expertise” Don’t Panic: Strategic Partnership Doesn’t April 27, 2009 Equal Vendor Lock-In “CSC’s ResearchNetwork Provides A Road Map To recommendations Becoming A Strategic Partner” 6 How To Choose The Right Amount Of October 8, 2008 Supporting Vendors © 2012 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Forrester, Forrester Wave, RoleView, Technographics, TechRankings, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Reproduction or sharing of this content in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. To purchase reprints of this document, please email clientsupport@ For additional reproduction and usage information, see Forrester’s Citation Policy located at Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.
  3. 3. 2 Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals New Business Demands Strain Legacy Approaches to Networking Infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals have a large number of networking choices at their disposal. And 2012 will bring yet more options as software-defined networking vendors like Plexxi, Nicira Networks, Big Switch Networks, Embrane, and Vello Systems enter the market. To complicate matters, the number of services that I&O pros must deliver to their users has also exploded, and so has the complexity of the underlying infrastructure to support all of those services. And yet, most enterprise networking teams select networking infrastructure vendors in the most rudimentary manner — they either pick the best-of-breed for that task or they go with the cheapest available option. Both options leave I&O teams short of their ultimate goal of supporting their business. The problem is that: · Enterprise networking teams spent decades making decisions in isolation because they could. Few people outside of IT understood networking; therefore, they didn’t question I&O’s purchasing decisions. Thus, islands formed between technology areas (like storage, servers, networking, and users). Networking teams never consulted the server or application teams about their purchases. The purchasing criteria for networks fell into one of four areas: the biggest, loudest, fastest, or cheapest product on the market. As networking teams added more components, networks became works of art even though most just offered basic connectivity; the structure, configurations, and devices differed vastly from company to company. · Enterprise networking teams struggle to produce a clear cost for the entire system. As businesses became more dependent on technology and CFOs handed out a larger portion of the operating budget to IT, CEOs forced networking organizations to answer business questions. Consequently, many I&O teams produced faulty and siloed analyses. Due to the fact that few organizations collected baseline metrics before the project, gut-feel responses from organizations plagued research. Since change was truly never measured, total cost of ownership or return-on- investment analysis written over the years focused on warranty and hardware acquisition costs. Few of these analyses included the costs of downtime, maintenance, training, deployment, or other operational procedures in their estimates of the cost of deploying a network. · Vendors relied on similar hand-waving analysis to push the product. To help I&O pros qualify their purchasing decision to the business side of the house, vendors aligned their products’ capabilities to business benefits. Take the evolution of cable speed from 1 GbE to 10 GbE, for example. As switches increased their link bandwidth capabilities, vendors announced that higher speeds meant fewer cables; fewer cables meant lower operational costs. You couldn’t read a press release that didn’t relay that message. However, “fewer cables” only mean lower operational costs if you don’t need to upgrade them from copper to fiber to support 10 GbE. The Old Purchasing Approach: Multivendor Network Cost Savings Loses Steam Networking teams continue to struggle to communicate the network’s value to not only the business but also to the rest of IT. And in the broader technology industry, OpenFlow movement, VMware marketing, and Google’s own network strategy portray networks as a pure commodity. Thus, few February 16, 2012 © 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  4. 4. Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner 3 For Infrastructure & Operations Professionalsgroups outside of the networking team see the network as a strategic asset or a target for operationalcost reduction. Therefore I&O teams continue to focus on rudimentary tactics to lower hardwarecosts and employ an “arm’s length” procurement model with vendors.1 Or they architect a dual ormultivendor network to lower costs.Vendors will often show I&O pros data or reports that demonstrate huge savings when comparingvendors in a given category. However, Forrester found the difference in street price betweencompetitors’ similar components to be less than 10%. If you encounter a price differential ofmore than 10%, either: 1) You’re letting the vendor dictate the design conditions or pricing, or 2)your business has a special requirement. In the first case, all you need to close the gap is a skillednegotiator. If your business has a special requirement, like FIPS 140-2 certification (which ismandated by the US federal government for certain departments), you’ll have to resign yourself tothe extra expense.Build your network around Strategic Partnerships insteadWith few differences between vendors’ hardware and warranty costs, I&O teams should stopobsessing over those nuances. Instead, your CIO expects you to use your resources to deploynew services faster. Thus I&O is already in the process of architecting a system that coordinatesinfrastructure elements — including servers, applications, storage, security, and networking — todeliver the right set of services to the right user at the right time and at the right location. 2 Thissystem reconfigures elements on the fly and monitors the output to ensure that the newly createdservices adhere to business policies and rules. This is what Forrester calls a virtual networkinfrastructure (VNI), which we define as: A scalable, secure, standardized, simplified, and shared platform that accomplishes five goals: 1) It leverages and balances workloads between virtualized and physical infrastructure; 2) acts as a vertically integrated Layer 2 to Layer 7 module within the infrastructure; 3) creates a fabric of horizontally interconnected components; 4) automates and orchestrates the infrastructure to deliver the right services for each user; and 5) allows management by business units.3As the network evolves to a closed-loop system, VNI requires the components to be tightly interwoven,which leaves little margin for error. Automated and sophisticated systems require an expensiveteam of system engineers and scientists. Enterprises can’t afford to support infrastructure researchand development centers. Thus they are shifting from multivendor environments into strategicpartnerships with fewer vendors. These strategic vendors focus on consolidating componentsubsystems and ensuring that those subsystems function together. This enables enterprises to buypreconfigured and off-the-shelf systems to increase their responsiveness to the business.© 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 16, 2012
  5. 5. 4 Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals Tightly Coupled Solutions Move Past The Data Center Walls To respond to the combined competitive threat of virtualization and commodity hardware, data center infrastructure vendors like EMC and HP repositioned themselves as strategic partners by providing factory-integrated solutions that were built, tested, and supported as a single solution. These converged infrastructures allowed I&O teams to centralize the management of IT resources, consolidate systems, increase resource utilization rates, and lower costs. Your networking suppliers aim to duplicate that success by helping you to: · Support mobile and cloud users with application acceleration solutions. Citrix, Cisco, F5 Networks, and Riverbed Technology recognize that networking teams need more than just WAN optimization to support mobile, empowered, and dispersed employees. At any one time, application optimization will combine caching, security, and compression functionality and global load balancing to place users to the closest location for information. Thus, new secure application acceleration solutions coming on the market interweave capabilities from ADCs, cloud gateways, and security appliances. · Transform the access port from a static fixed entity to a wireless one. Costs rise and time is wasted when policies have to be entered in LAN system and WLAN system; thus, I&O teams need vendors to provide unified solutions for fixed and mobile. Whether users connect in through wired or wireless ports, security and policies should be similar. Redundant operations lead to errors, more help desk calls, network outages, and user productivity drain. Strategic Partnerships Lower Operational Costs In Many Ways By whittling down the number of vendors, I&O teams have standardized not only deployment and configuration of virtual infrastructures but also the capacity management, patching, image creation and management, and life-cycle management for their environments. By decreasing the number of vendors and buying more subsystems from a strategic partner, you can: · Position your employees for efficiency and competitive advantage. A strategic partner offers solutions that are standardized. I&O teams must not deploy customized infrastructures — that breaks the economics of the model. For example, your CIO won’t pay to certify your networking staffers on all 14 Layer 2 networking vendors.4 · Rely on vendor-supplied documentation. Strategic partners provide system solutions that are documented. Most best-of-breed vendors don’t provide best practice guides or blueprints for all of their partners. HP doesn’t list any design guides to support partner services on its 5400 and 8200 switch services module. This means that you’ll either have to enlist a skilled networking staffer to figure out how to make the components work together or you’ll have to resign yourself to a series of frustrating trial-and-error-related delays. February 16, 2012 © 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  6. 6. Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner 5 For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals · Improve communication by standardizing the language. Even a word as simple as “guest” can be interpreted differently, which can wreak havoc on infrastructure design and deployment. For example, Aruba Networks defines guest access as an authenticated guest sponsored by an employee, while HP defines guest access within a switch as someone who wasn’t authenticated through radius and gets dumped into an open VLAN. Thus, if the WLAN and LAN team need to work with the security team to set and implement policies, they’ll likely spend a bunch of time learning the hard way that “guest” means different things to each group when policies for guests don’t line up during a security audit.World Class Companies Achieve Better Results With Strategic PartnershipsThe technology industry needs to look outside of itself and see what others are doing if I&O wantsbetter results and to align to their business. Take for example the introduction of virtualization,which alerted I&O to the principles behind just-in-time (JIT), total quality management (TQM),and Lean Thinking — the main business principles at Wal-Mart, Toyota, and IBM. Similarly, thesesame companies don’t need to be convinced that in today’s scale-driven, technology-intensive globaleconomy, partnerships are their life blood, not the vendors. Vendors deliver products at a low cost;strategic partners reduce costs, improve quality, and develop new processes and products faster.5Networking teams will reap similar efficiency gains and time-to-market if they run their supplychains like Toyota and Wal-Mart. Sam Walton focused on low price, keeping the shelves full,and offering products that customers wanted. To ensure that that happens, Wal-Mart has keysuppliers who embed supply chain professionals, product engineers, and marketers in Wal-Mart’sheadquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Not only does this facilitate better and quicker product design tomeet buyers’ unique needs, strategic vendors react more quickly to changes in supply.6Don’t Panic: Strategic Partnership Doesn’t Equal Vendor Lock-InWith a strategic partnership, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, you’re followingthe model of a suburban shopping mall, where you invest in your strategic partners (anchor tenants,such as department stores) and rely on other vendors (specialty stores) to fill out the infrastructure.7Strategic partners come in two main flavors: · Systems integrators (SIs). These firms will take your requirements and design, assemble, test, and deploy the solution. The secret sauce for systems integrators is their creation of a central command and control center that has a common user interface, shares data, and forms a system that performs as if it were one for all the subsystems. This can mean getting disparate components to talk to each other so that one system controls the network and processes. Some systems integrators will even manage your infrastructure for you and upgrade it as necessary. Systems integrators like Accenture, Dimension Data, Sarcom, and Versatile Systems offer everything from an end-to-end infrastructure to a secure WLAN system. Enterprise options run the gamut. I&O professionals can have a system designed, and they do the deployment and© 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 16, 2012
  7. 7. 6 Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals management. Or they can choose to purchase or lease a solution that will be designed, tested, deployed, and managed by the systems integrator. Another benefit for I&O professionals is how many component flavors they can choose. Systems integrators may offer three or four choices for WOC, ADC, WLAN, LAN, or WAN. However, often SIs typically work with one primary vendor for each area and will steer I&O in that direction. · Single vendors. These vendors are really a different kind of integrator. For example HP, IBM, and Dell work with Broadcom, Intel, Seagate Technology, and many other firms. These companies basically stick their name on the front of the solution like Boeing. To assemble just one model of the 737 — Boeing’s smallest and most popular commercial jet — the company relies on suppliers providing everything from engines and fuselages to seats and exit signs. Single vendors focus on architecting the system with OEM subcomponents, getting all of the parts in the right place at the right time, and then putting them together as quickly as possible. HP, IBM, and Cisco work with partners like Network Instruments, BlueCat Networks, and others, but most of their focus is on working with OEM vendors who will customize the subsystems for the single vendor since they will order a large volume of subcomponents. Like old Compaq computers that were the first to integrate video cards onto the motherboard, single vendors spend most of their resources integrating the hardware instead of just focusing on management overlays like SIs. Single vendor solutions offer proprietary stacks. However, these systems need less tweaking, which enables I&O to start services quicker and at a lower cost. This is why DreamWorks Animation chose HP as strategic partner for its high-end compute and data center infrastructure. Getting high-quality animation movies like Kung-Fu Panda to market quickly was critical. Re c o m m enda t ions how to choose the right amount of supporting vendors Does this mean that multivendor networks can’t be a long-term option? No. They can be a solid solution for I&O teams looking to deliver plain old connectivity services as cheaply as possible, or for those in industries like education who must cope with feast-or-famine annual budgets. But most I&O teams and their businesses will get the best value for their infrastructures by moving to the strategic partnership model. However, there’s no standard rule for strategic partnerships on how many or how fast. If your networking team is working on any of these initiatives, you should pursue strategic partnerships aggressively: · Simplify operations within a network layer. For example, supporting multiple vendors within the WLAN or access layer makes it difficult to manage under one logical unit. Extreme Networks’ SummitStack stacking technology enables I&O professionals to manage a stack of switches as one unit, or Meru Networks’ technology centralizes control of all of the access points (APs), which increases management efficiency. February 16, 2012 © 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  8. 8. Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner 7 For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals · Standardize operations at each layer. Logical grouping reduces operational overhead. Leveraging Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL)-based functionality or Multi- chassis Link Aggregation (MLAG) optimizes the links between layers. Since they are vendor dependent, any other switch would require the administrator to use a different protocol and therefore potentially introduce errors into the system. · Scale the solution beyond the data center. Today, data center networking switches are so different from campus switches that many feel comfortable considering this a good demarcation to support another vendor within the campus and branch infrastructure. But that’s only true in the short term. A lot of the concepts — logical grouping, spanning tree elimination, and latency reduction — address common requirements. Thus, the features being developed in the data center will move to the rest of the network. · Deploy more secure services. Most I&O organizations approach services and infrastructure from different angles and think about how they interact or about the security hole. Take for example a recent issue Forrester saw with voice vendor A and switch vendor B. The preamble sent from vendor A’s media gateway was odd numbered. The switch from vendor B didn’t know how to deal with an odd-numbered preamble, so the switch locked up. Therefore the customer chose to go with Avaya’s switching solution and UC solution so it didn’t incur a pseudo denial-of-service accident on its core switch after powering up the media gateway. · Share resources to optimize user experience. Converged LAN and WLAN can leverage the same user policies and management center. Users can get the same set of experiences whether they connect to a wired port or wireless port. With similar authentication methods, help desk call volume decreases because users make fewer errors connecting and I&O finds fewer errors in the configuration of the systems.Endnotes1 In essence, the relationship with a vendor is transactional, like that of someone using a vending machine, and parties to a vendor relationship are said to be at “arm’s length.” This form of relationship suggests a relatively low or nonexistent level of involvement between parties. Source: John J. Coyle, C. John Langley, Brian Gibson, Robert A. Novack, Edward J. Bardi, Supply Chain Management: A Logistics Perspective, South-Western College Publishing, 2008.2 Creating the ability to orchestrate the right services requires an infrastructure that has a set of interwoven components that each add a unique value but work together as a unit. As a technologist, it’s far too easy to get stuck on a particular technology or solution. In the same vein, it’s also too easy to fall into a specific ideology and view that there is only one way to solve a problem. For example, security and optimization are two separate organizations leveraging the same basic concepts of visibility and control. Sophisticated teams are questioning this approach, and the industry has started to meld them together in appliances such as ADCs. I&O teams should think about creating a service orchestration layer that is supported by the next-generation network called the virtual network infrastructure (VNI). VNI is scalable, secure, shared, simplified, and standardized. For more information, see the December 12, 2011, “Virtual Network Infrastructure” report.© 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited February 16, 2012
  9. 9. 8 Source Your Network Architecture From A Strategic Partner For Infrastructure & Operations Professionals 3 I&O teams should think about creating a service orchestration layer that is supported by the next-generation network called the virtual network infrastructure (VNI). VNI is: 1) scalable — businesses cycle, and so do the resources supporting it; 2) secure — with systems orchestrating services for each user, device, location, and need, no service would potentially be in the same spot twice; 3) shared — to build a better car, total quality manufacturing (TQM) dictates that everyone share responsibility for quality; 4) simplified — physics shows that simplicity can decrease resistance (or waste) and therefore improve performance; 5) standardized — the system should offer consistency so that repetitious activity can be automated. Proprietary elements can exist within a solution, but the ability to connect, have visibility, and leverage the resources must be done in a standard way. See the December 12, 2011, “Virtual Network Infrastructure” report. 4 Allocate valuable IT professionals to more business-centric projects. The opportunity cost of running email on-premises is that your staff must spend time on email support rather than revenue-generating projects. How much more valuable might that email administrator be if she were available to help roll out a cross- sell application in the call center or to improve data quality on a business metric like churn risk or seasonal demand forecast? 5 These business strategies came to fruition when the Japanese manufacturing industry was taking the world by storm. James Womac and Daniel Jones, in their 1990 book The Machine That Changed the World, point to Japanese manufacturing philosophy with their supply chain and strategic partners to describe the phenomenal success that Japanese manufacturers were having in global markets. For example, Toyota was able to do three things: 1) react to customer tastes more quickly by producing a new model every four years while the American auto industry took a decade to roll out new models; 2) reduce the amount of components and cost on yearly bases; and 3) produce higher-quality cars, which saved them on the cost of recalls, warranty repairs, and litigation. 6 Offer personalized products and services. From Starbucks to Nike’s NikeID shoes, consumers want unique products and services that fit who they are at that moment in time and where they are located. Even Burger King capitalizes on this by encouraging consumers to “have it your way.” The consumption of media has changed from monthly predetermined stories to Google Alerts and RSS feeds that offer information based on individual tastes. The Millennials and future generations, ages 18 to 30, will grow up in an era of “have it your way” and are expecting a customized experience. For more information, see the June 21, 2011, “Why I&O Must Design A WLAN To Provide The Best User Experience” report. 7 One useful metaphor of planning a software portfolio is the shopping mall. Shopping malls have developed a common model based on a few anchor stores, such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s, augmented by many boutiques, such as Radio Shack, Foot Locker, specialty clothiers, and at least one pizza shop. Management tool portfolios can benefit from a similar model. The management software “anchors” are the megavendors, also known as the big four: BMC, CA, HP, and IBM. Most other vendors fall into the “boutique” category. Some of the retail boutiques can also anchor a mall; these anchorettes include retailers like Best Buy, Staples, and Burlington Coat Factory Direct. The anchorettes have aspirations to be your future anchor, and some will succeed. In management software, there is also a middle ground of anchorettes: large vendors with multiple offerings in their arsenals with perhaps not yet the breadth of the pure anchors, but in a situation to challenge their position in some cases. Examples of anchorettes are ASG, Compuware, EMC, Microsoft, Oracle, and Symantec. For more information, see the September 25, 2008, “Managing The IT Management Software Portfolio” report. February 16, 2012 © 2012, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  10. 10. Making Leaders Successful Every Day Headquarters Research and Sales Offices Forrester Research, Inc. Forrester has research centers and sales offices in more than 27 cities 60 Acorn Park Drive internationally, including Amsterdam, Netherlands; Beijing, China; Cambridge, MA 02140 USA Cambridge, Mass.; Dallas, Texas; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Frankfurt, Tel: +1 617.613.6000 Germany; London, UK; New Delhi, India; San Francisco, Calif.; Sydney, Fax: +1 617.613.5000 Australia; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Toronto, Canada. Email: Nasdaq symbol: FORR For the location of the Forrester office nearest you, please visit: For information on hard-copy or electronic reprints, please contact Client Support at +1 866.367.7378, +1 617.613.5730, or We offer quantity discounts and special pricing for academic and nonprofit institutions.Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR)is an independent research companythat provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders inbusiness and technology. Forresterworks with professionals in 19 key rolesat major companies providingproprietary research, customer insight,consulting, events, and peer-to-peerexecutive programs. For more than 28years, Forrester has been making IT,marketing, and technology industryleaders successful every day. For moreinformation, visit 61299