The Network Hub

June 29, 2009  9:51 PM

Are you a cable boy or a network engineer?

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

Recently ran a news story highlighting the emerging skills necessary for network engineers and administrators to survive. The article summoned an outraged call (I believe the word he used for his temper was simmering) from a network engineer at a global firm. He was appalled that any network engineer or administrator would not already come equipped with the skills we outlined.

The story in question called on networking professionals to train themselves in application management, cloud computing, security – a lot more than providing simple IP pipe access.

“Opening dumb pipes is for cable boys. If you don’t know this stuff already, you’re not an engineer,” my annoyed friend said. “You’ve set the bar too low.”

My first thought? Do you really believe that all high level network professionals are ready to push into emerging technologies without some urging?

My second thought: What does this guy have against cable boys? And isn’t that as un-PC as you can get in the world of networking?

But that’s not what he meant.

“The assumption of the story should have been that the network is seeing a demand for more senior level network administrators,” he said.

Sound a bit arrogant? Maybe, but he explained that a real network engineer, administrator or manager is a homegrown product that starts as a cable boy and listens to others to learn. Real engineers, he said, don’t get one or even two certifications and settle for what vendors feed them.

As they grow, they find the humility to reach across IT silos and get over networking protectionism to learn more about complex technologies that increasingly sprawl across departments.

At every level of the networking team, a professional will find this is the time to form alliances between systems, security and networking groups.

“If you have one guy who does firewall and that’s all he does, you’re going to have a problem,” he said.

What’s more, if these departments don’t approach the C-level executives together, they are not likely to get the resources and support they need to implement complex technologies.

“If you’re not working as an alliance, you’re setting yourself up to be outsourced,” he warned.

June 26, 2009  8:07 PM

Ethernet Alliance hosting exploration forum for 40/100 Gigabit Ethernet

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

The Ethernet Alliance has issued a call for papers for an upcoming Technology Exploration Forum on 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet. The forum is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2009 in Santa Clara, Calif. The forum will be open to non-members of the Ethernet Alliance. The event is intended to be a discussion on what additional work needs to be done on the standards beyond the physical layer specification of IEEE P802.3ba

If you want to speak at the forum, submit a proposal. Find details at the link above.

June 25, 2009  3:55 PM

New York Stock Exchange chooses Juniper switches and routers for two new data centers

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Juniper Networks scored a big customer win this week, announcing a deal with New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext. NYSE  Euronext is building two new data centers in New York City and London that will support several billion daily transactions across different geographies and asset classes. This is part of the NYSE’s effort to consolidate its 10 global data centers down to two.

In a joint press event, Juniper and the NYSE claimed that the 10 Gibabit Ethernet (GbE) network infrastructure in the data centers will support internal round-trip latency of 50 microseconds. The data centers will have EX 8216 chassis switches in their cores and EX 2500 top-of-rack switches providing access to 10 GbE servers. The data center designs also call for the use of Juniper’s MX Series Ethernet Services Routers.

One interesting bit of information which came to my attention with this release is that the EX 2500 (which does not run Juniper’s JUNOS operating system) is a third party technology (possibly from Blade Network Technologies) which Juniper OEMs.

June 22, 2009  8:00 PM

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

rivkalittle Rivka Little Profile: rivkalittle

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

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

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

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: 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

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

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?

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

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.

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

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

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

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

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.

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