The Network Hub

February 10, 2010  11:51 AM

ManageEngine: SolarWinds is turning to the Dark Side.

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

ManageEngine, an IT management software company that bills itself as a low-cost alternative to the Big Four (IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView, BMC and CA) says that SolarWinds is turning to the Dark Side.

Late last month SolarWinds acquired Profiler, a storage and virtual server management software technology from fellow Texas vendor Tek-Tools for $42 million. The technology provides visibility across storage, servers and virtual server environments.

On his blog ManageEngine vice president of product marketing Girish Mathrubootham claims that SolarWinds has been on a buying spree in recent years, acquiring a handful of companies like Tek-Tools, Kiwi and ipSurveyor in order to add functionality to its flagship Orion product suite. Mathrubootham argues that this is the approach that the Big Four have taken, creating management platforms that are huge, complex and pricey. He says:

Acquiring disparate products and integrating them at a GUI level may provide short-term boosts to revenue, but it is exactly this kind of headache that customers hate when dealing with the Big 4. (And SolarWinds would know this better than anyone else 🙂 )

It’s true that SolarWinds has been acquiring point tools that expand the visibility afforded by its network management and application performance monitoring platform Orion.  However, is SolarWinds really hoping to become a tool of choice to server admins and storage managers? SolarWinds says it is making these acquisitions in response to what it hears from customers. The roles in the data center are changing and the tools that support these roles have to evolve, too.

Sanjay Castelino, vice president of product marketing & product management at SolarWinds says it all comes down to virtualization. The migration of virtual machines to migrate from host to host requires network managers to look beyond their organizational silos.

One of the things we seeing within the IT organization is this need for visibility across the network, the compute infrastructure, virtual machines, storage and applications in the data center. We looked at the pieces that we have in that: We have the network piece and the application monitoring piece and some server and virtual machine monitoring. Storage was an important piece to add to that mix.There is an overwhelming demand from our customers to get visibility into network, storage and virtualized environments.

You’re starting to see that these folks are starting to work more closely together. You can’t say “I’m only going to be a networking guy and I don’t have to talk to my peers in servers and storage.” That’s going away. These people have to get shared visibility so that when they make changes on one they don’t bring down pieces of the puzzle in terms of delivering applications. The networking guys own the networking piece and the storage guys own the storage piece, but all of them are wanting visibility across their domains into the other domains because they aren’t siloed anymore.

Is SolarWinds truly morphing into one of the Big Four? Will we have to start calling them the Big Five? Given that Orion is still a product that can be downloaded online, the complexity that ManageEngine is warning about seems pretty far off.

February 4, 2010  10:51 AM

‘Save Dynamips’ Facebook group pops up in support of Cisco IOS emulator

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati

So, you heard that Cisco is cracking down on the use of IOS emulators by requiring a license registration key to activate the software on every router in its IOS v.15 update.

Angry? Want to stick it to the man? Feel a riot coming on?

Take a deep breath, put down the bricks and baseball bats, and fire up your Internet browser of choice to join the underground movement.

We spotted a Save Dynamips group pop up yesterday on Facebook, started by French networking student Benoit Goncalves in support of Dynamips, a free Cisco IOS emulator that seems to be the target of these IOS licensing changes. As I write this, it only has 18 members but sure looks like they’re rolling out the welcome mat for new recruits.

(Photo of riot police outside 2008 Republican National Convention courtesy of/politely borrowed from this flickr account)

February 3, 2010  2:25 PM

Network admin paychecks: How’s yours looking?

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Computer Economics has published its new IT salary report, which claims the average IT worker will see just a 1.8% raise in 2010. That’s pretty rough.  But in an age where many people are seeing their salaries stay flat for the second year in a row, perhaps 1.8% can be seen as a silver lining.

According to Computer Economics, the higher up in the IT chain of command you are, the smaller your percentage pay increase will be. CIOs and directors are getting just 1.3% more money this year on average. The lower you are in the organization, the better your percentage increase might me.  Computer Economics says this is part of an effort to retain talent in the trenches.

What’s the best job to have if you’re looking for a decent raise this year? Developers. They’re going to get about 2.1% more money this year, which is the highest average pay increase in the industry.

Networking pros are sort of at the median. Network and systems support personnel are going to see a 1.9% increase this year. This includes network admins and telecom analysts. How does your salary measure up? Are you getting a raise this year?

January 29, 2010  4:50 PM

Solarwinds offers up free network configuration tool

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

For those of you who don’t have a full-fledged network configuration and change management (NCCM) system, Solarwinds released a free tool this week that could make your lives a little easier. It’s called Network Config Generator.

Here’s a video where a couple of guys from Solarwinds showing how the product works.

Basically, this tool works like a configuration wizard. You enter the parameters you want for the configuration of a class of switches, routers, etc. The tool takes this information and outputs a configuration template in   Command Line Interface (CLI) code, which you can then cut and paste into the CLI consoles on any of your network devices.

It doesn’t scale that well. If you want to configure 100 switches, you have to cut and paste the CLI it into each one. But if you have some sort of network configuration management tool, you can probably drop these templates into that. Solarwinds, of course, is suggesting you use its Orion Network Configuration Management tool to apply these templates across your network.

Also, if you go to Solarwinds’ online community for customers,, you’ll find that Solarwinds customers are sharing their own configuration templates generated by Network Config Generator. You’re free to grab them and tweak them as you like with this free tool.

January 25, 2010  5:26 PM

Will you architect yourself out of a job with cloud computing?

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

We’ve heard all of the reasons why enterprises will move toward a cloud computing model (for networking read: less network to manage for better performing apps and accessible storage, plus simpler architecture). But there is very little talk about why networking teams (and their systems counterparts for that matter) are not likely to coax CIOs to go into the cloud anytime soon.

“If you are the network architect for a big company, you’re not going to architect yourself out of a job,” says researcher and analyst Kevin Tolly. “Who’s going to say: ‘We can save the company money by going to a cloud and then you can fire me?’”

If you believe, as Tolly does, that cloud computing will deliver on its promises (though we see a lingering “if” considering all of the security and management issues that abound), it’s just as likely that network engineers will architect themselves into different jobs rather than no jobs.

Cloud computing proponents envision returning to a flat network that will cut out the aggregation/distribution layer, directly connecting access to the core. But that brings with it a host of problems that networking engineers will have to solve, including routing and management challenges.
But more importantly, network engineers will have to both build internal clouds and then inter-network enterprise and public clouds for a hybrid strategy.

Arista’s Douglas Gourlay has this to say about it: “Cloud computing architectures, whether public or private, or frankly ‘virtually private’ (private cloud extending into public infrastructure with enterprise control and trust established) will need a set of networking systems and architectures,” he wrote when he was still at Cisco. “As James Urquhart told me once, ‘you can move the servers to the cloud, you can move the storage to the cloud, but you still have to connect to the cloud.’”

One thing is clear, until networking engineers figure out where they will fall in this transition to the cloud, they are likely to push against the change. The problem is, that won’t work for long.

January 22, 2010  11:00 PM

Cisco router into space passes first in-orbit networking test

Jessica Scarpati Jessica Scarpati Profile: Jessica Scarpati

Cisco Systems got word earlier this week that the IP router it launched into space in November passed its first networking test — it works.

Using Cisco’s IOS platform…

The in-orbit test was conducted using SEAKR Engineering Inc.’s Application Independent Processor (AIP) which was used to host the router and software-defined radio functions necessary for on-board routing, enabling satellite routing capabilities to be reconfigured and updated dynamically from the ground.

The way I see it, all of this means one of three things:

  • As TorrentBomb speculates, it’s Cisco’s next step toward global (or perhaps intergalactic) domination.
  • Since the router is radiation-proof, we can confidently add Cisco routers to things that will survive the apocalypse (behind cockroaches and Twinkies).
  • Even in space (following aforementioned apocalypse), you will still inevitably be stuck next to That Guy who doesn’t mute his iPhone email alerts.

According to Cisco, the move is just a small step in its Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) project.

They say the goal is to “route voice, data and video traffic between satellites over a single IP network in ways that are more efficient, flexible and cost effective than is possible over today’s fragmented satellite communications networks.”

Sure it is. Next they’ll tell us there was only one gunman involved in the JFK assassination.

January 13, 2010  4:33 PM

Cisco HP battle heats up in China and in the channel

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

Cisco’s move to restructure its Asian operations is a clear sign that the HP-3Com acquisition has lit a fire under the router king’s you know what. It’s also yet another vote of confidence in the Chinese technology market.


Cisco’s restructuring plan announced this week will involve the creation of a separate Greater China Theater that will include China P.R.C., Hong Kong and Taiwan, formerly all part of the Asia Pacific Theater. The remaining Asia Pacific countries will remain their own theater and Cisco’s Japan operations will continue to be its own theater.


Cisco must do whatever it takes in China to hold down core networking considering 3Com controls 32% of that market — a percentage that will jump once the HP-3Com acquisition is finalized. In fact, many speculated that the 3Com acquisition was solely a geographic move maneuvered by HP specifically to kick Cisco the one place it hurts.


On another note, Cisco and HP will hold partner summits on the same day in different cities — never mind the fact that the companies have tons of cross-certified partners. After all, the former friends were once known for their cross-selling incentives.


And so the Cisco-HP battle ratchets up.

January 12, 2010  6:23 PM

Nothing’s free? How about a community lab to experiment with Cisco gear

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

Free education? What a concept. Packet Life blogger extraordinaire (also a network engineer) Jeremy Stretch has built a community lab that enables users to experiment with a host of networking devices.

The Packet Life Community Lab can be used for six-hour stretches to play with Cisco 1841s, 2811s, Catalyst 3550s, and ASA 5505s.

Users access the lab via Telnet and SSH sessions that are bridged directly to the physical console of each device by an Opengear CM4116, an open source console manager.

A full topology documentation of the lab is available on the Packet Life blog, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the lab. While Packet Life Community Lab is completely free to users who register, donations to support the lab are accepted.

January 11, 2010  4:17 PM

Cisco supply chain woes: Core networking product shortage

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

The Channel Insider reports that Cisco is struggling to fill orders for core networking products after enterprises started buying products in greater numbers at the end of the year. In an official statement, Cisco told the web site that its suppliers are struggling to deliver to Cisco “based upon their labor and other actions taken during the downturn.” Apparently Cisco is dealing with a shortage of the raw material used to manufacture semiconductors and other basic components of its switches and routers.

A similar supply chain crunch struck the wireless LAN industry last fall when a surge in orders for 802.11n enterprise wireless LAN gear caught many vendors off guard. Aruba was forced to push back a product announcement by a week, due to this shortage.

Now Cisco is dealing with its own unexpected surge in orders, and its supply chain is struggling to deliver.

Cisco helped create this supply chain disruption, according to Jerald Kolansky, of the consultancy Gerson Lehman Group and a former executive with semiconductor firm PLX Technology. Kolansky wrote on his firm’s website that Cisco cut orders for supplies drastically in the fall of 2008 with little warning for its suppliers. This forced suppliers to make drastic cutbacks of their own and they are now struggling to ramp up production again.  Kolansky wrote:

Firms such as Cisco have reaped what they sowed. If they had been more willing to share the pain and in fact had not overreacted in cutting orders they would not be in the situation they are in today.

January 8, 2010  7:40 PM

IT jobs growth detected with a microscope

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

National unemployment remains at 10% (officially), but if you include people who are underemployed and who have given up looking for work that number is actually at 17.3%. Not pretty.

But Foote Partners LLC, the IT workforce management consultancy, points out that the country has experienced four consecutive months of growth in the IT jobs market (PDF).

On its face, that sounds nice. Four months of jobs growth? The country would love to see something like that for all job categories. However, Foote notes that the country gained about 7,600 IT jobs in December. That’s not exactly an explosion of opportunities, but it is a flicker of hope.

Despite this job growth, it doesn’t look like IT departments are actually hiring. Foote notes that the Department of Labor stats are showing the most growth in two categories: “Management & Technical Consulting Services” and “Computer Systems and Design and Related Services.” This implies that the companies are bringing in consultants, contractors and managed services rather than adding new employees.

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