UPDATED 16:00 EDT / MAY 19 2014


Where IBM fits into software-defined networking trends | #IBMEdge

rohit-mehraBroadcasting live from IBM Edge 2014, currently taking place in Sands Convention Center, Las Vegas, Dave Vellante and Stu Miniman, theCUBE co-hosts, caught up with Rohit Mehra, VP of Network Infrastructure with the International Data Corporation (IDC), to talk about what’s driving cloud and data center infrastructure growth, networking and the transformation of enterprise IT.

“How would you describe where we are in the networking business?” asked Vellante, prompting Mehra to talk about industry changes in the past decade.

“Where we are right now, at the crossroads of mobile, social, what is happening with cloud and the datacenter and the velocity behind that, it is certainly a once-in-a-generation shift. The whole paradigm of how networks have enabled enterprise IT is about to shift, or is shifting as we speak,” answered Mehra.

Recounting the days of the PC revolution and the ascension of networking brands like Cisco, Vellante asked Mehra for his thoughts on how the company maintained its market position despite industry disruption, such as software-defined and newer technologies reaching the market.

“No networking discussion would be complete without noting where Cisco has been and where it is going,” opined Mehta. “Certainly they are under pressure in terms of what they bring to the table, and how their solutions are being deployed, traditionally, and what this new age enterprise and networking IT managers are looking for. This is the flexibility and agility that networks are really being required to deliver. Applications are really moving at a rapid pace, Big Data requirements are increasing very rapidly, so when it comes to datacenter networks, the needs are here and now.”

Mehta mentioned that datacenter people (cloud providers and enterprise networking managers alike) are looking for that increased level of agility and flexibility, not willing to give up on their reliability and scalability they have been accustomed to over the last two decades. To that extent, Cisco has served up this purpose, building what he called world-class, scalable networks that have met the needs of most enterprises and even cloud providers.

Where does IBM fit into software-defined networking?


“Where does IBM fit in now?” asked Miniman.

“IBM’s blade network portfolio met IBM’s need up to a point, but it was not the answer to data center networks as a whole, especially when it came to the integration of infrastructure’s stack with compute storage and networking,” said Mehra. “Now, with Lenovo, IBM is making it clear it does not want to be in the hardware stack, but wants to be in the software-defined environment. They want to be part of that ecosystem, and that includes networking.”

Talking about orchestration, Miniman prodded Mehra to talk more in depth about the operation efficiency in the network. Rohit Mehra identified two clear market directions:

1. The disaggregation of the network

Having separate hardware stack allows for more open systems, and for the network OS to be extracted from the hardware. Lastly, disaggregation enables enterprise and network managers to think more about orchestration and automation.

2. The integrated view

Building compute, storage and network stacks and putting a management orchestration wrapper around it. For Enterprise IT, there is a growing demand for that kind of agility to be enabled within minutes.

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