Window on WANs

July 16, 2009  9:56 PM

Juniper’s a day late, a SoftWOC short

WPeterson William Peterson Profile: WPeterson

Juniper Networks announced a host of exciting new WAN features Monday. Unfortunately, that was almost two weeks too late for Gartner’s WAN Optimization Controller Magic Quadrant (published June 30), in which Juniper fell from “leader” to “niche player” since the report’s last update in 2007, based on the company’s (then) lack of a software-based WAN optimization controller and a number of other factors, including low market share.

Juniper didn’t have a comment when I originally contacted them about the WAN optimization Magic Quadrant, referring us to Gartner for comment. After the article came out last Tuesday, however, PR reps for Juniper called and asked for a correction to the story, because a post-report release update by Gartner stated Juniper had a softWOC coming in Q3 2009. Sure enough, Gartner forwarded us another copy of the report:

Continued »

July 9, 2009  6:02 PM

From the WAN Mailbag: Encryption, MPLS, optimization and more

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell


One of the benefits of online publishing, as opposed to traditional paper and ink methods, is the Internet provides a more capable (and sometimes culpable) two-way street in terms of getting readers involved in the information purveyance process.

Social computing networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Plaxo add to the interaction by channeling bits of information to specific user communities, or providing a faster and more effective route to important and useful articles. Over the past few weeks, we have received a number of comments from readers on various topics related to WANs and networking. The following is a quick taste and excerpts of what some of our readers are saying.


On the subject of WAN-based encryption technologies:

Wouldn’t it be more prudent to encrypt data when it is written, so no data integrity is compromised? This way data can traverse the WAN, public or private, without compromise.

It is about centralized control and management. WAN throughput might be impacted, since most WAN optimizers need to cache or manipulate data for some type of acceleration. If the data has already been compressed or encrypted or de-duped, how do you optimize it? Continued »

June 30, 2009  3:59 PM

A year of networking dangerously: Security breaches at the brink

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

Ask network administrators what their biggest concerns are over the next several months, and most will quickly rattle off such things as bandwidth optimization, network reliability and remote access management.

When the day is done, however, and they are sitting in the comfort of their homes, away from control consoles and dashboards, their real worry is network security. Who is gaining unauthorized access to the network right now, and how much data is at risk because of an impending breach?

There is no valid way to measure just how many networks are violated each day and data stolen or corrupted, since most companies decline to go public with that information unless it results in criminal prosecution. Most prefer not to admit that their seemingly secure networks were breached unless they can also say they got the culprit.

Ironically, the only way to put a dent in cybercrime may be to fess up when it happens and let the world know just how prevalent the problem is within the sanctums of businesses large and small. Such efforts won’t stop network security breaches, but they may provide common ground for companies at least to slow it down.

Continued »

June 24, 2009  6:20 PM

Social computing goes enterprise mainstream

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

Imagine holding an Olympic high diving event where there wasn’t a drop of water to be found. Or, a professional baseball game with no bases, bats or (gasp!) cold beer! That is a little what it’s like today at the Enterprise 2.0 conference and social networking gathering taking place this week at the four-star Westin Boston Hotel, adjacent to the sprawling Boston Convention Center.

As vendors, users and Twitterati experts talked about the latest developments and trends in social networking and collaborative software, attendees in the audience had to deal with little or no WiFi access and signal strength that was as bashful as a freshman at a senior dance. WiFi signal were bouncing all over the hotel lobby (where I am writing this blog), but couldn’t seem to penetrate the meeting rooms where people Twittered and tweeted in vain.

This didn’t stop speakers at the event from expounding about the benefits of social computing to the enterprise – a claim that was backed up with a lot of concrete examples from heavyweight companies like Allstate Insurance, the Humana health services organization, and JetBlue airlines. Many companies are pretty early into social computing, with most involved in pilot projects and efforts that are happening outside the sphere of IT and the corporate network. But, nearly every company making a presentation at Enterprise 2.0 agreed the technology will have a profound impact on the corporate technology structure and strategies over the next five to ten years.
Continued »

June 22, 2009  6:53 PM

Timing, or lack of it, is everything to Nortel

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

News this week that Nortel Networks Corp. is selling its CDMA and LTE wireless telecom division to Nokia Siemens Networks for a cool $650 million is not too surprising, considering the state of the global telecommunications industries and a continuing reluctance by enterprise customers to invent in new technology.

Let’s face it, more and more companies are learning to make do with what they have rather than spend any additional money on the latest gadget or technology ‘breakthrough’ that promises speed and reliability, but is missing that all-important applications return on investment (ROI) validation. In short, if the promises and numbers don’t translate into increased revenue, then smart enterprise buyers will probably take a pass on your latest products.

WAN optimization appliance market

Continued »

June 16, 2009  2:11 PM

Reading the writing on the WAN wall

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

One of the more vexing issues facing network managers today is how to cost effectively tweak a WAN to keep up with the rising number of remote workers and increasing reliance on branch office activities and technology capabilities.

On the one hand, companies are trying to centralize IT and network operations to maintain costs and simplify operations. On the other, there is an effort to provide more operational autonomy to branch offices, as they become the ‘frontline’ conduits for mission critical information and access to customers and suppliers.

This is an issue we continue to cover in the digital pages of, most recently in an article that looks at the trend to avoid costly WAN appliances in favor of WAN virtualization and software, and in profiles of major global companies like Carhartt, Inc., which is taking an “old school” but nonetheless successful approach, and deploying optimization appliances at critical branch offices.
Continued »

June 9, 2009  8:49 PM

Email’s Sting: Moving beyond the buzz of ‘killer apps’

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

Of all the overused and inane buzzwords in the IT industry, the phrase “killer application” has to be right up there in the top five. Vendors peddling superfluous technology and latest add-on add-in kudzu always seem to truck out this term when they talk about future strategies and market share, as in, “Our new whiz-bang gizmo will surely take off when that ‘killer app’ surfaces to drive the demand for our product!”

Analysts and market researchers, like weather forecasters, don’t often take the time to look out the window to see what is happening in the real world. As a result, they too throw around buzzwords and generic terms like beaded necklaces at a Mardi Gras parade. Among the terms now being tossed in the air to giddy end users are cloud computing, telepresence and social computing -– the last one of my favorites since the antithesis would, of course, be anti-social computing. I also like it when vendors marry buzzwords and come up with terms like “unified communications in the cloud,” which suggest that clouds are getting in the way of clear market thinking.

WAN-dow dressing

Killer app is particularly annoying, though, since there is really no such thing because the applications in use are obviously more important to me than the applicants used on your systems. It’s just that simple and personal. If there is one application that might be awarded “killer” status, however, it is email, since everyone knows it, loves it (most times) and uses it. You can drape it in all sorts of buzzword dressing and fold it into such terms as collaborative computing, unified communications or instant messaging, but, at the end of the day, it works, it’s effective and it is the mainstay of most any enterprise computing network.

Continued »

June 5, 2009  4:54 PM

Color my (IT) world…green

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

The Great Recession apparently hasn’t put too much of a damper on corporate green IT initiatives. The reason? Most likely because these efforts can dramatically cut costs (by reducing the number of servers in an organization’s network, for example), and environmentally-sensitive efforts can generate positive PR in a rising tide of negative economic news.

While spending on green IT projects has slowed, along with everything else, these efforts are still top of mind when it comes to project priorities, says market researcher Gartner, Inc., noting that 2009 will most likely be a ‘gap year’ for initiatives. This is a term familiar to Europeans that refers to a period of time taken by a student before attending university to reflect on life, get involved in volunteer services, and oh yeah, have a bit of fun.

In the corporate sense, however, it means keeping a low profile to avoid short-term cost cutting and hopefully survive to budget another day.

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May 26, 2009  9:10 PM

Networking and IT vendors prepare for the changing face of customers

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

Now that the last WAN appliance has been packed away and that forgotten computer charger tucked into a drawer, never to be reunited with its owner, Interop 2009 is just a memory. 

However, one question may be lingering long after collected business cards are reviewed and sales prospects investigated: Who are the customers of tomorrow and how will their personal and business makeup impact the way communications products are bought, sold and marketed to the masses?

The answer to this question will have a huge impact on the long-term strategies of such leading networking vendors as Cisco, which believes newly empowered employees, borderless collaborative computing and green initiatives will play a significant role in the psychology and demographics of next-generation buyers, said Tom Wesselman, senior manager of software development at Interop.

The newer generation of enterprise executives and those who will make key purchase decisions over the next decade are very motivated by such things as who has control within a network, universal tele-presence, and consumer-driven technology options, he explained, noting the impact of such devices as Apple’s iPhone on their personal and work habits.

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May 20, 2009  1:21 AM

Verizon dives into deep end of network services pool

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

Technology trade shows can be surreal places, especially when the location is Las Vegas where fantasy takes a quick left turn and everything eventually turns up in an all you can eat buffet.

At Interop this week, which has evolved to become one of the more important networking events in the industry, the ghost of Elvis and lesser entertainers were everywhere as vendors on the exhibit floor resorted to showgirls, D-list magicians and even a full-scale boxing exhibition to attract attendees and collect an audience for new product pitches.

A handful of companies even collaborated to create a beer safari on the exhibit floor, offering a taste to people who trekked from booth to booth. Others took a more ‘rat pack’ approach and provided martinis, olives and garnishes included. Ah, Vegas!

Verizon Business provided one of the more unique venues for a press briefing at Interop, when plans for a conference room apparently fell through and executives met poolside at the Mandalay Beach Hotel in private Garden Cabana #8. To get there, I had to take a short cut through the Bikini Beach Bar, which not so oddly was populated only by rough-looking males sporting an interesting assortment of tattoo body art.

Continued »

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