Of the 100 attendees the analysts surveyed at the show 27% said they are already converging with NAS and iSCSI, 23% are planning to use NAS and iSCSI and 32% plan to use FCoE in the next three years. No one reported using FCoE today.
In the conversations I’ve had with data center and networking pros, it sounds like the convergence path a company takes will mostly depend on the infrastructure they already have in place. Fibre Channel shops will want to use FCoE in order to get more out of their storage area network investments. iSCSI shops will see no reason to invest in FCoE. They’ll just upgrade to lossless 10 Gigabit Ethernet and converge iSCSI and production traffic onto the same wire.]]>
Application delivery controllers (ADCs) are Layer 4-7 devices that evolved out of the load balancer industry. ADCs optimize applications deployments within a data center, performing a variety of tasks such as SSL offloading, web application firewalling, and application acceleration. Websites use them extensively but enterprises also make broad use of them for big and complex enterprise applications like ERP systems.
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ) is a market assessment device used to evaluate both the ability of vendors to build effective and innovative products (completeness of vision) and their ability to market and sell those products (ability to execute).
The Leaders (high ratings in vision and execution): F5 Networks, Citrix Systems and Radware
F5 and Citrix remain leaders in the application delivery controller (ADC) market for yet another year. Citrix drew praise for being a leader in virtualized ADCs and its rich features and deep understanding of applications. Gartner sees good potential for Citrix to bundle its virtual ADC with its Xen hypervisor products.
F5 continues to dominate in both technology and sales. It has strong customer loyalty, due in part to its DevCentral user community portal and its iRules scripting language and iControl API — technologies that have made F5′sADCs extremely customizable. Gartner cautioned that F5 is very reliant on hardware innovation; whereas competitors are doing more in software. Some vendors, like Zeus Technology, doing nothing but software, relying on industry standard servers for deployments of their technology. Gartner claims F5 also has limited features and functionality in its lower-end hardware, forcing smaller customers to spend a lot of money to get the features they want.
Radware, meanwhile, has climbed into the leader category from the visionaries box, thanks in part to the successful integration of its Nortel Alteon acquisition. Analysts praised Radware’s vision for how ADCs fit into virtualized and cloud architectures.
Visionaries (high rating for vision): Zeus Technology, Strangeloop, ActivNetworks and Aptimize.
Here’s where things get a little interesting. Gartner has added three newbies to the MQ this year and all of them are here in the visionaries box, joining the software-based ADC vendor Zeus Technology. ActivNetworks, Aptimize and Strangeloop are the new players here and each of them has a unique specialty (Technically, Aptimize is straddling the line between visionary and niche player). ActivNetworks sells a virtual ADC that optimizes mobile traffic and video streaming. Aptimize focuses on messy, browser-based apps. Strangeloop specializes in HTTP optimization. Gartner says these new vendors, particularly Aptimize and Strangeloop, are often deployed in tandem with ADCs from one of the more advanced vendors on the market.
Challengers (high rating for execution): None, same as last year.
Niche Players (low ratings for vision and execution, but generally considered good and viable options for specific environments): Cisco Systems, A10 Networks, Brocade, Array Networks, Barracuda Networks and Crescendo Networks.
Despite holding the number two market share position, Cisco continues to remain in a niche player. Gartner says Cisco makes most of its money here in straightforward load balancing and it has limited application expertise compared to other vendors, which inhibits its ability to help with complex applications.]]>
1. You advocate that enterprises save money by using Layer 2 switches wherever possible. In what scenarios would an enterprise want to have layer 3 routing on their edge/access switches?
I would say not very often, but in cases with a high degree of VLAN segmentation there may be a need for routing in the access for some more distributed network design. Or in cases where the Layer 2 functionality do not offer sufficient QoS, this could be situations with high use of both voice and video from the desktop.
2. You mention that enterprises generally don’t need Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop. In what situations would you say enterprises should pull Gigabit all the way to the desktop?
If you add bandwidth needs for a typical enterprise user and incorporate UC and Video you will not even get close to 100M to the desktop. Some enterprises with CAD/CAM such as city planning or architects may have higher bandwidth needs or in the medical area with X-ray images. But this is a niche which is typically easy to identify.
3. You mention that enterprises can drive costs down even further with commodity switches by adopting automation for operational tools. Could you elaborate on this further?
A large percentage of the ongoing cost is labor-based, i.e. time based on configuring or trouble shooting. For larger networks operational tools that can automate these processes can thus save time and thus reduce the ongoing operational costs, i.e. bring down the TCO.
4. You talk about using fixed-format switches over modular ones where possible to drive down costs. In what kinds of situations will enterprises be required to deploy modular switches at the edge?
Most cases I have seen have been just in case investment where the enterprise was not sure of needs so they chose a modular switch partly for switch port expansion but also for housing of other functions such as WLAN controller
5. These low-cost vendors use merchant silicon instead of ASICs to keep costs low. What exactly is the value of those ASICs? What are enterprises losing by deploying switches with merchant silicon at the edge?
There is some loss of performance by using merchant silicon and there may also be some degree of performance variations depending on traffic load but for most enterprises this is not really an issue within the edge of the network.
Gartner says that NAC gets a bad wrap because it’s not generating a ton of revenue and many vendors have disappeared. The most recent exit was ConSentry Networks, which mysteriously still has a live website even though it went out of business in August 2009. But enterprises are using NAC. Guest access is a hugely popular use case, and Gartner believes the “consumerization” of IT will only drive up NAC adoption. With end users bringing personal devices into work, enterprises will need to provide secure access to them.
Gartner is actually projecting a flat market for NAC in 2010, with no revenue growth. Total adoption of NAC is increasing but the revenue is flat because many vendors are offering NAC as part of a larger product or service. As we first pointed out while covering the first NAC Magic Quadrant a year ago, There are the infrastructure vendors like Cisco, Juniper, Enterasys, HP and Avaya, who embed NAC in their switching or security products. There are endpoint security and network security vendors like McAfee, Sophos, Symantec, Check Point Software, who bundle NAC in their products. The indie vendors have to compete against all these guys, many of whom might throw in NAC for free just to close a deal on some switches or some malware protection software. (Does anyone remember how popular Netscape Navigator was before Microsoft decided to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows for free?)
So what does this crowded quadrant look like?
Cisco and Juniper stand alone here. These are the companies who have both excellent technological vision and the ability to deliver on that vision to their customers. Symantec, a leader last year, was bumped into the challenger quadrant because its guess access capabilities are weak. Gartner kept Cisco in the leaders’ spot even though it says Cisco’s NAC solution is too complex and expensive. Gartner noted many Cisco customers have turned to NAC competitors recently. However, Gartner gave Cisco points for its roadmap, noting that the company will release a new line of NAC appliances later this year that consolidates many of the functions that were spread out over too many products. Gartner complimented Juniper for its early embrace of the Trusted Computing Group‘s protocols for NAC interoperability and its IF-MAP specification.
These are the companies that have the ability to close deals but whose technological vision needs a little refinement. As mentioned above, Symantec got bumped from into here for a poor approach to guest networking, which many industry observers see as a major use case for NAC. The only other vendor here is Sophos lost points because its NAC Advanced product, the high end choice of its two NAC products, requires agent software separate from its endpoint protection agent. Its counterparts (McAfee and Symantec) have integrated their NAC products into their overall endpoint protection agents.
These are the companies who are leading the market in terms of what they are doing with their technology but don’t have the robust sales, marketing and support capabilities required for closing deals against bigger companies. Here we find McAfee, the other major endpoint protection vendor in the space, along with NAC specialists ForeScout, Bradford Networks and Avenda Systems. Avenda is new to the MQ, it’s just four years old. Gartner gave it high marks for its embrace of interoperability and its focus on guest access. Bradford scores high in these areas, too. ForeScout is known for being easy to use and having an out-of-band approach that allows companies to move from one use case to another easily.
The Niche Players
These are the companies that don’t stand out for either their technological vision or their ability to execute. There are ten vendors in this category, some with big names (HP and Avaya) and some with small names (Nevis Networks, Trustwave). Gartner says all these companies are valid options for NAC, many of them targeting their products to serve specific vertical industries.
OK, so all 18 vendors are valid NAC options for someone. But there are EIGHTEEN of them. That’s a lot of NAC. This has been the case since the very beginning. NAC vendors have come and gone, and yet the market stays crowded. Even the Great Recession failed to thin the herd by very much.]]>
For the uninitiated, the Magic Quadrant is Gartner’s graphical evaluation tool for the technology markets it covers. It breaks down the vendor landscape into four quadrants: Leaders, visionaries, challengers and niche players. Gartner evaluates vendors via two general criteria (which in turn contain a handful of sub-criteria). The evaluation criteria are “completeness of vision” (or how much Gartner likes the direction a vendor is going with its technology) and “ability to execute” (or how much Gartner believes a given vendor has the marketing, sales and engineering resources to deliver on their promises to customers). Leaders score high in both, challengers score high in execution, visionaries in vision. Niche players score relatively low in both.
The only major change to the quadrant this year is the entry of Juniper Networks, which has quickly established itself as a big-time player in the switching industry. Gartner has named Juniper a challenger in this year’s quadrant, when last year it didn’t even meet the revenue requirements for inclusion. Gartner praised Juniper for its strong history in networking (particularly in Layer 3 routing), its aggressive pricing and its strong, young portfolio of switches. Gartner cautioned that Juniper needs to continue expanding its product line and it needs to get more specific on how it’s going to address next generation data centers. Project Stratus remains relatively vague. Juniper also has no clear WLAN strategy, which is a concern since 60% of enterprises like to buy switches and WLAN products from the same vendor.
Cisco Systems and HP Networking remain leaders. Cisco still has the broadest portfolio of switches and WLAN products on the market. It’s introduced several innovations recently, such as StackPower (the ability to manage the power systems of a stack of Catalyst 3750s collectively) and its new NX-OS operating system for its new Nexus data center switches. However, Gartner says Cisco has been slow in executing a unified wired and wireless product line. Cisco has also left many customers confused about how data centers built with the Catalyst product line will be integrated into the Nexus line. Gartner also claims that customers continue to be critical of Cisco’s efforts in sales, engineering and support.
Gartner says HP’s acquisition of 3Com (a visionary in last year’s quadrant) has combined the number 2 and 3 vendors in the market into a single Tier 1 vendor that has transformed the market. Gartner says enterprises should now consider HP for all its networking needs when evaluating vendors. The lifetime hardware warranties and telephone support across most of its products lowers the TCO HP-built networks. However, Gartner warns that the integration of HP and 3Com will take time simply because the product lines are so big. And there is quite a bit of redundancy between the two vendors, which will cause some confusion. HP’s sales force is also relatively new to networking, which some enterprise networking pros might find as a turnoff if they’re used to buying network hardware from knowledgeable sales pros.
Brocade remains a visionary. Its combination of high-end switching and storage networking expertise bodes well for its vision for its data center strategy and Gartner says the customer support legacy of its Foundry Networks acquisition remains strong.
Extreme Networks, Enterasys/Siemens, and Alcatel Lucent remain niche players. Nortel (now Avaya) is also still a niche player. Force 10 Networks, which dropped off the the quadrant last year because of revenue, has not made its way back.
Although the quadrant looks very similar to last year’s, Gartner says that the networking market has transformed tremendously in the last year. Juniper and HP have established themselves as legitimate Tier 1 vendor alternatives to Cisco. The days of “Cisco and the seven dwarfs” are over. Brocade (with its Foundry acquisition) is strong in the data center, not so much in campus LAN.
Aside from the horse race aspect of the vendors, Gartner has also identified several key innovation trends that enterprises should follow closely to see how their vendors respond.
Snyder writes that Cisco Systems in particular is guilty of going off the rails with NAC. Basically Cisco’s acquisition-happy ways has led to yet another case of two many cooks in the kitchen. Its acquisition of Perfigo, a vendor of a wireless access gateway product, evolved into the overlay product Cisco NAC Appliance. Meanwhile Cisco’s routing and switching business unit has built its own NAC product, Cisco Secure Access Control Server. If even Cisco can’t decide how to tackle the NAC market, how is an enterprise to figure out which direction to go.
Regardless of the failures of the NAC industry to truly catch fire, I continue to be amazed by the industry’s ability to continue supporting so many different vendors. Sure there are plenty of network infrastructure and network security vendors that can dabble in NAC as a side business. But there are still plenty of independent start-ups out there, too. They’re still trucking along, with few taking the next big leap to an IPO or a buyout. Occasionally you’ll see one go under, like ConSentry Networks, but the others insist they’re doing just fine.
Trusted Computing Group (TCG), the not-for-profit independent standards-body which promotes vendor-neutral NAC standards, has issued a response to Network World’s takedown with an email entitled “What’s Right with NAC?”
TCG cites a projection from Gartner that NAC will become a mature marketwithin two to five years (Gartner issued its first NAC Magic Quadrant last summer). TCG goes on to say: “Well, we agree with both Mr. Snyder at Network World and with [Gartner]. Certainly the path to NAC products has been neither short nor particularly easy, but today there are a lot of good products to choose from and people ARE using NAC successfully.”]]>
This is a story of a small-time vendor who, after years of being stepped on by a billion-dollar analyst firm, throws open the windows of its San Jose office and screams, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
The question is, will anyone else join them?
ZL Technologies, an email archiving company who has languished in the niche corner of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for four or five years, is suing the analyst firm for $1.6 billion, claiming defamation, trade libel, unfair competition and negligent market interference, etc.
Gartner contends that it has a First Amendment right to express its opinions on technology markets. It’s hard to argue with that.
As I have mentioned before, there are many people who dislike Gartner and its influence over the IT industry and claim that its Magic Quadrants are more about who you know and what you spend with Gartner than the quality of your product and your company.
My colleague Mark Fontecchio did a nice job of collecting some reaction to this lawsuit from the people who matter: IT decision makers. It’s clear that for all the ridicule that bloggers, out-of-favor vendors and competing analysts heap on the Magic Quadrant, the market measuring tool still has significant influence over buying decisions. One IT veteran said the Quadrant represents about 20% of the decision-making process while another said a CIO should always review a Quadrant with his CEO before buying a product.
IT executives have a fair amount of skepticism about the Quadrant but they still rely on it to some degree. Every time I write about one, the page views come pouring in. Cisco might be the leader for the 100th time in a row for enterprise Ethernet switching or wireless LAN, but everyone still wants to know the nitty gritty about the Quadrant.
So what could Gartner do to reduce criticism? Well, how about more disclosure? Exactly how does that magic box get drawn up? Maybe the mathemtaical model should be disclosed. How much money does each vendor on the Quadrant spend with Gartner? How many hours has the analyst spent with each vendor? How many customers of each vendor were consulted? These are facts that inquiring minds want to know.]]>
Amsler’s main argument is that Gartner is an arrogant organization that brings little value to the IT industry. Well, his words are actually, “they truly don’t provide any real value to our industry.” For proof of arrogance, he points to this privacy debate which broke out on Burton Group analyst Bob Blakeley’s blog. He also deconstructs Gartner’s ballyhooed Magic Quadrants, calling Gartner’s method for constructing them “fishy.”
I’ve never had a problem with Gartner, myself. I have had run-ins with vendors who were unhappy with Gartner (and my coverage of Gartner’s research). I find that most Gartner analysts — at least those who return my calls — are as knowledgeable as any other subject matter experts I talk to on a daily basis.
Since I’m a member of the press, people aren’t always candid with me about their views on subjects like this. Or their candor is issued to me under the blanket cover of off-the-record comments, which means I can’t share them with anyone. In any case, I remain curious about this whole issue and I hope to hear from readers who have an opinion (whether on or off the record).]]>
In my 14+ years at Gartner, I have never, ever allowed a vendor to influence my opinion with anything but facts. Period. They have certainly tried to influence me with non-facts. I can say this definitively – it has never worked.
Tom’s rant has sparked an interesting debate among current and former analysts, bloggers and vendors in his blog’s comments section. It’s worth reading.
There has been plenty chatter in the blogosphere and elsewhere about whether analysts are offering any value to enterprise clients. Many analyst firms, such as Gartner, count both IT vendors and end user enterprises as customers. It’s hard to serve both masters while maintaining an appearance of integrity. This is probably why Gartner has an ombudsman... the only ombudsman I know of in the analyst industry.
Gartner’s use of an ombudsman doesn’t protect it from attacks on its integrity. James Watters, for instance, suggested recently that IBM’s favorable position Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Hosting and Hosted Cloud System Infrastructure Services was due to IBM being a very important paying client of Gartner. Trapeze Networks came to me after I wrote about Gartner’s last wireless LAN Magic Quadrant and suggested that Gartner had unfairly placed Meru Networks ahead of Trapeze because Meru’s current VP of marketing is a former Gartner analyst and one of the authors of the MQ was very briefly an employee of Meru.
It’s hard to prove your integrity. For some people, there just isn’t enough proof in the world to erase any doubts. Journalists face the same challenge. In my newspaper days people would occasionally accuse me of being a mouthpiece for politicians. I knew I was doing my best to write fair and balanced stories, but the accusations still stung.
Gartner’s use of an ombudsman is significant, I think, although the office would have more impact if the ombudsman’s blog were updated more than once a month. An ombudsman is the voice of the client (or in a the traditional journalism sense, the reader). Clients will have more faith in a an analyst’s advice if the firm has someone on staff who tackles each and every significant attack on its integrity head-on, in full view of the public.
Gartner and other analyst firms should also disclose the nature of their paid relationships with the vendors that they evaluate for enterprise clients. This way, clients can understand the full context of the advice they are receiving. Some firms do this. Others don’t.
If you could talk to the CEOs of the leading analyst firms out there, what advice would you give them to help them establish that they are giving unbiased and independent advice to enterprises?]]>
In this blog post I’ll review this year’s Magic Quadrant for the LAN market, and I’ll compare it to last year’s Magic Quadrant for Campus LAN infrastructure, which is essentially a measure of the same market.
As I wrote above, Cisco is THE leader in the LAN market, scoring high in both of Gartner’s criteria for the quadrant: completeness of vision and ability to execute. In their assessment of Cisco”s position, analysts Mark Fabbi and Tim Zimmerrman noted that Cisco maintains the broadest portfolio of LAN switching and WLAN technology on the market. The introduction of its Nexus switches have shown that Cisco is providing some leadership in addressing emerging connectivity demands in data centers.
However, Gartner cautioned that Cisco remains the high-priced vendor, with some workgroup switching products being twice as much as alternative products on the market. Gartner also said Cisco might be taking its customers for granted, especially those customers who believe in buying networking gear from more than one vendor. The analysts wrote:
We are hearing increasing concerns about Cisco’s presales organization taking customers for granted, and not providing expected levels of service, especially for customers that have not endorsed an end-to-end Cisco solution.
The only other leader in this Magic Quadrant is HP ProCurve, which was a leader last year as well. Gartner described ProCurve as the fasted growing LAN switch vendor during the past two years and when clients speak with Gartner about their shortlists for vendors, ProCurve is the the second-most-asked-about vendor after Cisco. Gartner praised ProCurve’s integration into HP’s Technology Services group, which gives it access to HP’s broader sales force. It also praised ProCurve’s low cost of ownership and the successful integration of the WLAN technology it acquired with Colubris Networks.
But Gartner cautioned that ProCurve still lacks high-end core switches (An acquisition of a high end core switching vendor like Arista Networks or Blade Network Technologies would do the trick!). The company also needs to expand its channel for larger sales opportunities. ProCurve has in the past been known as a good vendor for SMBs.
A third leader from last year’s campus LAN Magic Quadrant fell down a notch in this year’s quadrant. Foundry Networks, now known as Brocade, the storage networking company that bought Foundry last year, was classified as a visionary in this year’s Quadrant, scoring high on its completeness of vision but scoring a little lower than last year in its ability to execute.
Gartner praised Brocade’s integration of Foundry but said Foundry lost momentum last year due to its U.S.-centric and data-center-centric sales focus. Gartner said it wants to see market evidence that Brocade’s integration of Foundry is successful and that Brocade can regain market momentum. I have no doubt that last week’s announcement of a new Ethernet switching OEM agreement between IBM and Brocade will go a long way toward helping Brocade regain some of that lost momentum that Gartner is looking for.
Gartner identified three other visionaries in this year’s Quadrant: 3Com, Enterasys/Siemens and Extreme Networks.
Last year Gartner classified 3Com as a niche player, but it elevated the vendor to a visionary in this year’s Quadrant, giving it higher marks for its completeness of vision. Gartner praised 3Com’s revamped product lines and its growing market share in China and other emerging markets. H3C, 3Com’s Chinese subsidiary, has a 35% market share in China, for instance. And 3Com has a very large, low-cost R&D workforce in China. 3Com recently told me H3C has 2,300 engineers in China. But Gartner cautioned that 3Com and H3C have been, until recently, run as two separate companies. It will be important for the two to integrate. Also, 3Com has very little market penetration outside of Asia. Gartner warned that taking products developed for China and selling them globally will be a challenge.
Enterasys, which merged with Siemens Enterprise Communications last year as part of a Gores Group acquisition, maintained last year’s position as a visionary. It drew praise from Gartner for it full complement of products from the data center to the access layer, its tightly integrated security technology, and good customer buzz around support and services. But Gartner said Enterasys’s market footprint remains small and its distribution channel is limited. Marketing has also been weak, Gartner said, as the market waits for the new combined company Enterasys/Siemens to change its name.
Extreme Networks, the third visionary in the Quadrant, drew praise for broadening its XOS-based switch line and its policy-based configuration and open architecture. But Gartner noted that Extreme is struggling to maintain revenue and it remains one of the smallest vendors in the market. Gartner also cited some support issues affecting the company’s install base.
Gartner identified two niche players in this year’s Magic Quadrant. First there is Nortel, which was downgraded from its visionary status in last year’s Quadrant. Gartner cited Nortel’s bankruptcy as an impediment to the company competing for new business. Gartner is predicting significant loss of market share and revenue for the company as it remains in bankruptcy. Gartner also said Nortel needs a new core switching platform.
The second visionary, Alcatel-Lucent, drew praise for a solid product strategy and its growing market share and revenue; however, Gartner said the company needs to invest more in R&D to keep pace with the latest innovations in data center switching and wireless LAN technology.
Force10 Networks, which was identified as a niche player last year, was dropped altogether from this year’s Magic Quadrant because it no longer meets Gartner’s revenue requirements for inclusion, whch is 1% of ports sold overall or 5% of ports sold in a specific market segment.
Gartner also noted that Juniper Networks has entered the Ethernet switch market, but it hasn’t earned enough of a revenue share to be included in this year’s Magic Quadrant. Juniper’s switches earned the company $56 million in 2008.
So there you have it, for what it’s worth. Cisco remains on top, but the other players in the market continue to make moves. ProCurve and 3Com are on the rise. Nortel and Force10 are in decline. Everyone else is looking to take a step forward.]]>