The Network Hub

November 25, 2008  3:49 PM

HP ProCurve could threaten Cisco’s dominance

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

The New York Times has an interesting article about the rise of ProCurve, Hewlett Packard’s networking division. Gartner analyst Mark Fabbi told the Times that Procurve’s revenue has grown by 40% over the last two quarters, putting some pressure on Cisco’s status as the undisputed market leader.

The story explains that HP’s change in leadership from Carly Fiorina to CEO Mark Hurd has had a major impact on the company’s networking business. Fiorina maintained a close partnership with Cisco, in which HP sold computers and printers and Cisco sold networking gear to the same customers. Fiorina even offered incentives to HP sales reps who sold Cisco equipment without offering similar rewards for selling ProCurve gear. Hurd has reversed this policy, encouraging HP to focus on sales of ProCurve technology.

The company has also built up its ProCurve division this year through acquisition. This summer HP acquired Colubris, a maker of wireless LAN technology known for high quality products that are favored by manufacturers, hotels and other vertical industries that require reliable, large-scale wireless networks. Colubris also gave ProCurve instant credibility with 802.11n, the next generation of wireless LAN technology.

While HP builds up its networking business and threatens to be a serious competitor in the industry, Cisco has its eyes on a much bigger threat: the recession. Cisco has announced plans to shed $1 billion in expenses in order to keep its margins healthy during the downturn. Citing UBS Research, GigaOm has reported that Cisco will shut down operations for four days at the end of this year to save money. This follows other reports that Cisco has canceled its annual sales conference in San Francisco.

November 24, 2008  7:09 PM

Five things network administrators do to mess up their enterprises’ virtualization

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

Selecting the Right Virtualization Solution

Network monitoring authority Paessler PRTG has seen the good, bad and ugly of network designs that prevent monitoring a system, which is why their product line solutions cover everything from network management to server performance.

To get an idea of what they’ve seen, PR rep Michael Krems got the company talking about the top five most common mistakes network administrators and IT systems managers make that cause their virtualization deployment to fail.

Here’s what Paessler says will mess up your enterprise’s virtualization:

  1. Virtualizing systems without knowing their usual CPU/memory load, disk usage and network usage: You must monitor a system prior to virtualization in order to know how much load it will put on your VM host servers. System with high load may also be not suitable for virtualization at all.
  2. Running too many VMs on a host: causing overloads: All virtualized systems suffer in performance.
  3. Running too few VMs on a host: spending too much money buying too many host server[s]
  4. Compare mid/long-term monitoring results before and after virtualization to ensure quality of service doesn’t suffer.
  5. The performance of all virtual systems on a host usually suffers from one virtual system going amok or running into a performance/load peak. Without monitoring, such events often happen undiscovered.

It seems like applying common sense would fix a lot of the issues surrounding virtualization. I wouldn’t place a lot of blame on the network manager though. Much of what goes wrong with a virtual deployment just has to do with the capabilities of the technology. Take these issues for instance:

As with any new technology, most of the struggle too, is not having the right information. In the end, do you feel like enough conversation surrounds the impact virtualization has on your network?

November 21, 2008  10:35 PM

Microsoft offers free certification exam retake

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

Can’t afford to get certified? Well, these days, with an even more competitive job market, you can’t afford not to be.

The good news is that Microsoft is giving you two incentives to certify for their exams. Through Second Shot, you get to retake your Microsoft certification exam for free if you don’t pass on your first try.

If you’ve mastered the test on your first try, then you get 25% off your next exam that you decide to take.

All you have to do is register for Microsoft’s Second Shot offer by December 31, 2008. Details can be found on their website (in cased you missed the link above):

If you need that little extra nudge, think of it this way: Those who have higher credentials, especially of the expert levels, get higher pay. If you want to be Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certified, for example, you need to pass about seven exams altogether. Each one costs $125 through Prometric, so if this seems steep now, think of the payoff later down the line with your new starting salary!

If MCSE isn’t the exam for you, take a look at this newtorking certification guide from our career and training expert, Ed Tittel, to get a taste of the certification landscape. If you need some certification or career training advice, feel free to check out Ed Tittel’s expert section or ask Ed your own career question to guide you in your work ahead.

November 8, 2008  1:13 AM

IT economic outlook: Not so good

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

One way to make financial projections into your company’s IT future is by taking a look around at other IT corporate giants, like Google and Cisco, to see how they are faring. If the company at the top of the food chain is feeling affects from a depressed economy, then chances are, lower down the chain, you’re going to be feeling twice the burden.

magic 8-ball outlook not so good

This past August, although Cisco reported strong 2008 earnings (Compared to last year, net sales were up 9.9%, net income was up 4.4% and earnings per share were up 6.5%.), today, Outlook’s Ritsuko Ando reported Cisco’s shares were down 28% from a year earlier. This downward jump is a jolt I’m sure we’ll all be feeling.

On election day, Scott Moritz of Fortune 500 magazine wrote:

“As a supplier of Internet gear and computer networking systems, Cisco has a broad reach into markets across the globe. And given its position as the dominant provider of data infrastructure, Cisco’s view of tech spending trends, while not always accurate, commands a great deal of attention.”

After all, seeing Cisco Looks into the Abyss at the top of commanded my attention.

November 6, 2008  7:01 PM

Extricom: We’ll live free or die hard

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Extricom made clear they will live free … or die hard.

We haven’t touched on Juniper’s WLAN acquisition aspirations in a while, so I’m happy to throw out another tidbit: Extricom, publicly at least, loves the single life as much as Aruba.

“I’ve made my opinions vocal before,” Mike Doheny, director of corporate marketing for Extricom. “I think in general, in this macroeconomic climate that we’re in, no company wants to sell itself voluntarily. Valuations would be dismal. Anyone whose selling out now through these acquisitions is not doing it because they want to do it, they’re doing it because they have to do it.”

Fighting words from Mike, but he said he sees this time as an opportunity to grab some marketshare.

“Even as we watch the macro-economic news get harder and harder, we had quarter over quarter growth,” he said, adding that the wireless LAN’s potential to seriously cut op-ex could make the technology counter-cyclical.

“We’ll worry about ourselves,” he told me. “And we’re not going to worry about consolidation.”

Background Reading:

October 31, 2008  11:08 PM

Scariest computers in movie history

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

 This week, my friends and I decided to assemble our own lists of our all time favorite scary movies in honor of Halloween. I came up with a list of the top 30 movies that scared me the most in my lifetime. While at work, writing about networks and data centers, I starting thinking about what were the scariest movie computers of all time. I came up with a top five list. Here they are. I’m sure you can think of some others. I’d appreciate some other suggestions in order to make this a top 10 list.

1. H.A.L. 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey): It’s simple really. You’re on a mission into the far reaches of the solar system and the artificial intelligence that controls your ship starts to misbehave. And no matter how badly he behaves and how many times he puts the life of your crew in danger he keeps speaking in that soothing, creepy voice.

 2. Skynet (Terminator and its many sequels, etc.): I think the 1984 version of Arnold was scarier than any supercomputer, but Skynet sure was relentless. The evil supercomputer from the future just refused to give up. No matter how many times its time-traveling, robotic assassins failed to kill John Connor, it would built another, and another and another – forcing movie studios to make sequel after sequel. Skynet sounds kind of like a botnet. Now I hear “filmmaker” McG is making a post-apocalyptic Terminator sequel with Christian Bale. That’s right folks, the man who brought us two Charlie’s Angels movies is directing a Terminator movie.

wargames3. W.O.P.R, AKA Joshua (Wargames): W.O.P.R., the Defense Department’s ultimate supercomputer, was behaving just fine until Matthew Broderick, the hacker with a dial-up and a IMSAI 8080 home computer, started messing with it. Soon after that W.O.P.R. decided to take over NORAD and bring the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Thank god Broderick was such a hardcore gamer. He pwned that mainframe 

3. Colossus (Colossus: The Forbin Project): A decent movie, Colussus is a little dated today, which is strange since it’s two years younger than 2001. The movie is about Colussus, a supercomputer that runs America’s nuclear arsenal. One day it becomes self-aware and decides it wants to rule the world. Wargames wasn’t quite as original as we thought.

4 Proteus IV (Demon Seed): Proteus IV is yet another evil supercomputer. Instead of just destroying things, it wants to procreate. Instead of building cute baby servers and desktops, it wants to do the deed biologically. So it forces itself upon the wife of its creator and somehow manages to impregnate her with a hybrid fetus, half human, half supercomputer. Yikes!

5. The Matrix (The Matrix) The Matrix is pretty scary when you think about it. A supercomputer that’s taken over the world and grows human clones to serve as a sleeping energy source to power its circuits. And all its minions (both virtual and real world) were pretty creepy. Of course, the scariest thing in this movie is watching Keanu Reeves try to act.

October 31, 2008  8:12 PM

How to kill a network zombie

Ron Richard Profile: Ron Richard

Network security meets George Romero zombie movies: a combination I can’t resist. So I had to share this computer zombie post from Peggy Rouse, over in the “Overheard in the tech blogosphere” blog:computer zombie

“Before a zombie hunter can kill some zombies he has to find them. In themovies the hero can listen for low sorrowful moans or slow shuffling feet to track them down, or just look for the carnage of half eaten people. On your network you can look for similar signs of the undead so you can blast them to oblivion.”

— Adrian Duane Crenshaw, LAN of the Dead: Putting computer zombies back in their grave, Ash style

Unlike a lot of bloggers who write about zombie armies, Adrian doesn’t just scare you — he actually tells you how to hunt down zombies on your network and and kill them.  Recommended reading.

If you encounter any actual zombies, on the other hand, remember to aim for the head.

Happy Halloween!

October 29, 2008  6:00 PM

Get inside Cisco’s head

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Want to pick long-time Cisco CEO John Chamber’s brain? Want to track Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior’s daily insights? Now you can, thanks to Harvard Business Review and the magic of Twitter.

HBR recently posted a lengthy interview with John Chambers which covered everything from his management style to strategies for weathering the economic storm. It’s light on the technical details but does give a fair amount of insight on where he believes the future is headed, and how networking will take it there:

In terms of what’s happening right now, I think the biggest market transition is the shift to a more collaborative world, which is only made possible by what we call an “intelligent, network-centric” world. This network-centric world encompasses the whole range of communication experiences and seamlessly delivers information. Consumers will access voice, the web, e-mail, and video by any of the 14 billion devices that we think will be connected to the internet by 2010, all loaded onto the network. In the very near future, for example, you won’t need to hang up your cell phone if you want to switch to a landline; you’ll stay connected as you change devices, as long as they’re all connected to a network.

It’s pretty high-level stuff and mentions some of the customer-centric strategies Chambers said have kept the company competitive throughout the years.

For a more intimate look at a Cisco executive, check out Warrior’s Twitter feed, where occasionally readers are greeted with the mundane — “Halloween party in 15min. Costume-ugh, not done. Skip or go as is?” — but more often can get clued into regular reading gems on a variety of technical and leadership topics, handy for any ambitious IT professional.

October 28, 2008  3:00 PM

Cisco busted for crushing one of its channel partners

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Sometimes the little guy wins.

According to our sister site,, Cisco Systems has to fork over $6.4 million to a former channel partner. A jury in Orange County, Calif., found that Cisco had poached a customer from its value-added reseller (VAR) Infra-Comm and then kicked the VAR to the curb when the company’s owner sued Cisco for damages.

Infra-Comm had accused Cisco of violating its deal registration agreement by taking a prospect for a $1.5 million IP telephony deal from the VAR and handing it to AT&T. After Infra-Comm sued, Cisco kicked the company out of its partnership program, costing the VAR about 90% of its business. Cisco countersued Infra-Comm, alleging that the VAR had violated a contract and was unlawfully continuing to use Cisco’s name to do business. The jury agreed that Infra-Comm had unlawfully used Cisco’s name, but declined to award Cisco any damages.

This is all a very sordid story, and the court case may have set an important precedent about the nature of relationships between vendors and channel partners. To find out more about it, read SearchITChannel’s stories about the verdict and the lawsuit.

October 20, 2008  10:03 PM

TelePresence, now yours for an hourly fee

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Have you been eyeing Cisco’s TelePresence ever since Vice President Noah Daniels and Russian President Suvarov squared off over one in 24, Season 6?

Well now’s your chance to re-enact your favorite moments, as Cisco begins renting TelePresence rooms to the general public. There will be over 100 rooms to choose from by the end of 2009, Reuters reported, so you and your 24 play pals will have plenty of spaces to choose from, and price points vary from $299 to $899 depending on the size of the room.

Considering TelePresence rooms (and they really are whole rooms, with everything from the carpeting to the tables to the angle of the HD TV’s pre-determined) can run $300,000 to install, a few hundred dollars an hour isn’t a bad deal, particular if travel expenses can be cut down several thousand while big wigs meet virtually instead of globe-trotting around the world (it’s also easier on the environment). And while Cisco’s plans were fairly modest for deployments, focusing on the global 500, this could help push the technology out to a much broader base.

Cisco is also supposedly touting telepresence as an option to bring together people together for distance weddings and births, according to Network World’s Cisco Subnet, but I’m a wee bit skeptical this will develop into a serious market … Do people really want to give birth in a sterile business suite? Maybe one of the lower end, less “total” solutions is more feasible here, but we doubt a whole lot of wedding parties will want to cram into a suite in the Pierre Hotel, however seamless the experience.

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