The Network Hub

A blog

June 22, 2009  8:00 PM

Letter to Nortel users: It’s a wrap, and no promises on what’s next

Posted by: rivkalittle
Nortel bankruptcy, Nortel users

Nortel put to rest rumors that it would maintain any of its units under the company name in a letter sent to Nortel users this morning obtained by Nortel also said it had little information to share with customers about what would happen to their service contracts once the company’s units are sold off.

News broke over the weekend that Nortel would sell its LTE and CDMA businesses to Nokia Siemens Networks. Since then rumors have floated about whether the company would maintain its enterprise unit. Then a letter arrived in users’ email boxes this morning.

“Nortel announced that it is advancing in its discussions with external parties to sell its other businesses. We believe that the best outcome for each of our businesses is to find buyers who can carry Nortel’s rich innovation platforms into the future,” stated the letter, which was not signed. The letter went on to say that the company would “assess other restructuring alternatives” for the remaining businesses if they were not acquired.

Nortel has promised since it filed bankruptcy in January that it would emerge from restructuring a leaner, meaner machine. But Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski attended the International Nortel Networks Users Association (INNUA) annual meeting a couple of weeks ago and outlined a number of potential strategies for the companies, including a total sell-off as one.

“This is a tangible example of them moving forward with that strategy,” said INNUA exectuve director Victor Bohnert, explaining that users weren’t shocked when they received the letter.

But others users contacted have said they won’t be satisfied until they know which company is going to buy Nortel and what will happen to their service contracts. The letter was clearly an attempt to ease anxiety among these users, but it fell short of providing any details.

“We know the most important question to you right now is what all of this means to you and your relationship with Enterprise Solutions. We want to reassure you that during the process we are open for business and will continue to operate. At this time, we do not have all the answers, but we remain committed to ensuring that you experience no disruption to your business during this process,” the letter read.

“As soon as a clear path forward is defined for Enterprise Solutions, we will communicate that news to you,” the letter stated, adding that in the meantime, all product commitments would remain in tact and contracts would be serviced.

Analysts agree that even if Nortel has a buyer for the enterprise unit in the works, there isn’t much more information the company can possibly share until a deal is finalized.

“Once somebody else buys [Nortel], it’s up to them what they do with honoring those contracts,” said IDC analyst Abner Germanow, adding, however, that ongoing service contracts are a profitable business and it would be unlikely for any company not to maintain and honor them.

In the meantime, the letter was an attempt to let customers know that Nortel would keep communications open through the transition.

“Consider this a kiss thrown in your [the end user's] direction,” said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp., a consultant and analyst firm.

Now users have to hope that the acquiring company is one that will use Nortel’s portfolio to compliment its own offerings, said Bohnert. There has been some fear of an acquiring company that would snatch up Nortel for its customer base with no plans of continuing the enterprise portfolio.

Beyond that customers want an acquiring company that can deal with a major transition and “where service and support is part of the culture,” Germanow said.

Siemens and Avaya are both rumored to be considering acquisition of Nortel’s enterprise unit.

June 18, 2009  9:07 PM

Wireless LAN spending is down, 802.11n spending is up

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
802.11n, Aruba, Cisco, HP ProCurve, Motorola, wireless LAN

Market analyst firm Dell’Oro published a 1st quarter assessment of the wireless LAN market which showed that a severe 11% drop in enterprise spending from the 1st quarter of last year and a 15% drop from the 4th quarter of 2008.

Dell’Oro says Cisco’s huge share shrank a little, from 63.1% to 60% from a year earlier. HP ProCurve doubled its share from 1.7% to 3.1%, no doubt thanks to its acquisition of WLAN vendor Colubris. Aruba’s share is 8.1% and Motorola’s is 5.9%.

Despite the overall poor showing for WLAN, 802.11n technology sales grew 4% from the 4th quarter of last year, according to a report from PCWorld.  and 802.11n technology now makes up the majority of the WLAN sales for the first time ever.

Cisco’s domination in the wireless LAN market remains intact, but it’s interesting to see their share shrink just a little bit. In fact, looking at the numbers, the amount of market share Cisco lost equals ProCurve’s ENTIRE market share.

The WLAN market remains extremely crowded and some of the largest network infrastructure vendors not named Cisco (Brocade, Juniper) lack a true WLAN product line. I expect to see some more consolidation before the recession ends.

June 17, 2009  8:02 PM

Free Microsoft certification exam voucher

Posted by: Tessa Parmenter

We know earning a certification is no walk in the park. After you’ve joined a certification boot camp, read your certification books, created your practice labs and finished studying, you then have to pay someone to take an exam to earn the qualification. Well, this week, that’s no longer the case!

If you want to take any Microsoft Certified Professional or Microsoft Dynamics exam, now is your chance to take it for free: is giving away six Microsoft certification exam vouchers in our Career Success Story Contest.

In a job market that’s more competitive than ever, we want to make sure our members are able to get the edge they need to succeed and even surpass the ranks of their peers. That’s why we want you to tell us your story. We know our readers are extremely intelligent, successful and qualified professionals — we just want to showcase it.

Whether you’ve been able to keep your job because of a certification, or you know someone who has — telling us in 150 words or less can win you a voucher to take a Microsoft test for free. More details can be found in our Career Success Story Contest page or our certification and training expert, Ed Tittel’s, Win an MS Voucher blog post.

In the words of Ed: “May the best story not only win, but inspire others to get their certification.”

June 9, 2009  4:57 PM

3Com displaces Cisco at Quinnipiac University

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
3Com, Cisco, H3C, Networking

3Com announced yesterday its first major customer win in North America since it launched its H3C brand globally last month. Quinnipiac University is deploying H3C switches from the core to the edge to serve its three-campus network and the school’s 8,000 students, faculty and staff. The deployment includes several H3C S9500 core switches and more than 100 H3C S5500G edge switches. The school will also use H3C’s new network management software Intelligent Management Center and 3Com’s TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention System.

The H3C gear will replace the school’s incumbent Cisco network, according to 3Com.  In a press release from 3Com, Quinnipiac’s associate vice president for information services, Fred Tarca, said he wanted to keep costs down without compromising network performance, reliability and security.

This is a pretty good customer win for 3Com, which is making yet another attempt to break back into the enterprise market, this time via its H3C brand. H3C was a joint venture with Huawei, but 3Com bought out Huawei’s share in the company a couple years ago. H3C has a broad portfolio of enterprise networking products which has enjoyed great success in China. 3Com recently relaunched H3C as 3Com’s official global enterprise networking brand and is trying to keep head-to-head with Cisco and other market leaders.

June 5, 2009  5:55 PM

Soon-to-be-ex-Senator Norm Coleman’s next job: Network engineer?

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Ethernet, IT humor

We don’t spend a lot of time talking politics on The Network Hub, but I can’t resist this one.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who lost his re-election bid to comedian Al Franken and who has spent the last six months litigating the election results in Minnesota’s courts, was caught on tape at some Republican shindig talking about how the GOP needs to do a better job of using new media to organize itself. He tells an interviewer in the clip below that his party needs to compete on “the Ethernet.” These poor politicians. They spend all their time glad-handing campaign donors and making appearances on cable news networks and no time actually sitting at a desk working with a computer. The entire Internet thing has completely passed them by.  Just as former Sen. Ted Stevens demonstrated his complete lack of understanding of the Internet by saying it is a series of “tubes” that you can’t drive trucks through, Norm has revealed that he probably hasn’t spent much time surfing the web either.

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Or perhaps I’m rushing to judgment. As blogger Josh Marshall points out, maybe Norm, whose teeth are disturbingly white in this video, meant that the GOP needs to brush up its skills on local area networking.

June 3, 2009  7:12 PM

My inside look at the world of Star Wars

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Geek culture, Star Wars

Last week I held the original blaster that Harrison Ford – as Han Solo – used to shoot Greedo in Star Wars (Episode IV).

That’s what I consider the highlight to a vacation.

Thanks to some business contacts that a certain friend of mine has, I was fortunate enough to receive a tour of the center of George Lucas’s entertainment business empire in San Francisco, including LucasFilm’s headquarters at the Presidio in San Francisco and the fabled Skywalker Ranch north of the city. It is no easy feat to get a look inside the homes of LucasFilm and its various divisions, such as Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light & Magic. I once read that Ronald Reagen’s request for a tour of Skywalker Ranch while he was president was denied.
Continued »

June 1, 2009  3:45 PM

Cisco replaces GM on Dow Jones

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Wall Street

I’m not a big believer in relevance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a leading economic indicator, but Cisco’s ascendancy to the 30-company list is certainly significant.  Cisco’s addition came at the expense of bankrupt General Motors, which had been on the Dow since 1925. Only General Electric has been on the list longer.

The move means that the Dow Jones is no longer an “industrial average” per se.  IT companies now make up a large block on the list, with Cisco joining Microsoft, IBM and HP and Intel.  The Dow chooses companies for its list based on their reputation and their ability to generate sustained growth. For a long time, that meant reliable industrial performers like General Electric, 3M and GM. But in the 21st Century, Wall Street has clearly recognized that IT companies may have more potential to deliver wealth to investors than the makers of light bulbs, Scotch tape and pick-up trucks.

May 28, 2009  9:17 PM

Interop: NetScout demos location-based wireless LAN troubleshooting

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Cisco, NetScout, Network management, wireless LAN

At Interop, NetScout announced the integration of its Sniffer Global network analyzer product with Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine. This integration gives network managers the ability to do location-based troubleshooting of wireless LAN networks. A user can find the location of a client device that is experiencing performance issues, determine what access point that device is using and discover all other proximal network activity that could be affecting performance.

In this video, Netscout’s director of systems engineering Eric Gray demonstrates the integration.

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May 28, 2009  7:31 PM

Interop: Fibre Channel over Ethernet demo by Ethernet Alliance

Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Ethernet, Ethernet Alliance, FCoE, Fibre Channel over Ethernet

While walking the floor at Interop Las Vegas last week, I met with Brad Booth, chairman of the Ethernet Alliance, who demonstrated Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). In this video, you can see how the Ethernet Alliance used priority flow control and enhanced transmission selection to protect video traffic moving over FCoE. As Brad describes, this video features a NetApp Fibre Channel array  sending Fibre Channel and ISCSI traffic across an Ethernet network into two servers. The servers are sending streaming video to a monitor while a Finisar Xgig traffic generator is blasting the network with simulated traffic.

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May 21, 2009  5:31 PM

Interop attendees upbeat, but focused

Posted by: SusanFogarty
Interop, Networking

While walking the expo floor at Interop Las Vegas this week, I was pleasantly relieved to see that the gloomy economy has not dampened the spirits of the networking industry. Although I have heard rumors that show traffic is down, it looks pretty healthy to me (certainly a far cry better than any of the New York events). And the mood is upbeat. In fact, several conference attendees have expressed to me their belief that the economy has “turned the corner” and they are thinking about what comes next.

The Expo floor at Interop Las Vegas 2009.

A survey conducted by vendor Network Instruments at the show seemed to validate that. Of 100 network engineers and IT executives interviewed, the survey found that 67% of respondents had not experienced layoffs in their IT departments in the past year, and 31% are continuing to roll out new technologies.

Of course, you have to assume that in a down economy, the attendees that make it to a conference are the lucky ones working in IT departments that can still afford to send their staff to events and investigate new products. But I was heartened to see that there were a significant number of these folks in attendance, and they were very interested in up-and-coming technologies, not just the tried-and-true stuff.

The bottom line has changed, however. While 10 and even five years ago, IT pros might have delved into a technology for technology’s sake, that’s unspeakable today. I would hazard to guess that every Interop attendee had the same ultimate goal in mind: saving money via technology and achieving ROI for their IT investments.

That’s driving a lot of what networking pros have come to Vegas to learn about: virtualization, unified communications, cloud computing, 10 Gigabit Ethernet. These technologies are new ways to collapse more services onto one infrastructure, doing as much as possible with fewer devices and fewer people. While there may be an investment up-front, the long-term savings can be monumental if you plan correctly.

Attendees told me they are re-architecting their data centers, building out telepresence to cut back on travel budgets, and installing only wireless connectivity in branch offices, among other innovative ideas. The IT pros here are learning to think in whole new ways, and that makes them doubly lucky. Maybe we’ll hit the craps table this afternoon.

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