Friday, June 21, 2013

Best of breed vs unified solution - combining the two worlds the new way

Looking back there was time in the 90's when we went more and more towards the best of breed solutions in IT. You wanted to have the best virus control solution in the market, and from another vendor you found the best firewall and from the third came the switching devices. It was fun, as you could really use your time to carefully choose only the best money could buy - depending on your budget of course. When IT environments were more simple, traffic going out and coming in through only one route, it was easier to build a solution that you could manage. You didn't need to adapt into 10s of new software coming in every day, as with todays gadgets, which would've meant building new rules to firewall, enabling software processes to be run in one's PC. Every day and every hour.

From that time we grew these environments coming into the year 2000 and forward until the datacenters reached their limits, cooling systems practically melt down, electricity bills went up like rockets and the budget limits were reached. Until the last 5-10 years, we turned from adding more individual dedicated components into building more virtualization, reducing the number of devices needed in the datacenter. That time also the strickt and clear border between outside and inside network vanished and the number of end user client devices went to sky high. No-one was prepared their environment for that. We knew we were going to that direction eventually, but the speed it happen surprised everyone. IT tried to keep up, but found out that there's just too many moving parts and too few resources. At the same time the IT budgets had already grown so big that top management wanted to reduce the money spent to IT as the IT teams couldn't justify the investments, nor could they show any return of investment. So IT and the actual business went to different directions. IT which was supposed to be supporting and enabling the business, started to be a burden and actually slowing down the business development as it could't renew anymore.

With the virtualization, like VMware, we went to the right direction reducing the number of devices needed and centralizing more and more of the management too. Still there are too many moving parts and what's especially creating a major problem is that many of this kind of attempts are based on the legacy systems, having the history burden, needing to take account too much outdated solutions. Only lately there have been more solutions that are built to support actually today's needs. One very interesting example is Meraki, which started everything from the scratch and based it's management totally into the cloud - from the day one. It included very early the mobile device management, supporting the way people do business and use collaboration solutions today - all the different gadgets we have. They have wireless access points, switches, security devices. All managed from the same cloud and browser based management. Everything is very simple, just take the device to the place you need it, add it into your management, meaning very up to date browser management, and there you are. This simplicity growing the solutions from small office to the large retailers having hundreds of retail shops all over the world, is an example what a newcomer is able to do when they take the technology we have today and just build it straight to serve today's needs. As with great solutions many times, also in this case a large market leader saw their value and bought them. Meraki was bought buy Cisco and you can find more about them in

Meraki alone isn't enough of course, probably one of the reasons Cisco bought it, to complement the Cisco portfolio with the new way of thinking. There's still many areas where the same kind of development needs to happen. But this is the step to the right direction. And opportunity for new start-ups in the future (or the ones that are there but have been under the radar so far). But what it shows is that there's a totally new way to look things today. With solutions like this it's easy (easier) to show the return of investment for the management. From day one you get already not only savings but such efficiency that you couldn't get using legacy systems - the ones we have built in our networks for decades. For IT and Business management this is opportunity to move into the new way of thinking, move also back closer to each other, and back to support and enable the business to develop with the customers and with the market needs, rather than trying to blockade the outside world from progressing. New time has come and the ones who adapt into it will grap the market share and the profit in the future.