HP Discover 2013

It’s that time of the year again.  HP Discover 2013 is happening this weekend in Las Vegas and I’m actually sitting in a hotel room wondering just how hot it’s going to get outside while I write this. 


I’ve actually been involved in HP Discover, previous known as TechForum, since 2010 in one way or another, but this is the first year where I’m officially involved as part of the HP Networking Technical Marketing organization.

Without letting any secrets out, it’s going to be a good show for us, but I’m really looking forward to checking out the HP Discover Zone, not to mention the various things that are going on at the HP Innovation Theatre

Some of the official blogs have covered a bit on session highlights  as well as the who’s who role call for the Social Media program. 


What I love about Discover

Learn about HP

Hewlett Packard is a HUGE company. To put this in context, HP has more employees than the top 26 smallest Countries. Not cities. Countries.  As you can imagine, it’s tough to keep up to date on all the things that are happening across the entire company. HP Discover is a place where we all come together and the curious can learn about what the other parts of the companies are doing, not to mention meet some great people. 

Learn about HP’s Partners 

The fact that the largest IT companies of the world are represented there as well as partner’s is wonderful. We get a up close and personal with VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Brocade and many others, large and small, who have something to show. Pretty amazing to see all this technology in one place. It’s a phenomenal place to learn about what’s going on in the whole industry for someone who’s willing to brave the show floor and engage with the people who have come out to educate people about their products and services. It truly is a place to Discover. ( <- see what I did there? ).


Talking with Customers

The one session I did want to mention is HOL 2809 , HP Intelligent Management Center custom scripting,  I”m co-presenting with Aaron Paxon @neelix and Lindsay Hill @northlandboy.  I’m very excited about this presentation, not just because I’m presenting with some great guys, but because it really represents to me the beauty of the SoMe community. 

Lindsay is an HP partner, Aaron is an HP customer, and I’m an HP employee.

We’ve spent the last few month getting together the session abstract working over email, twitter, google+ and even the phone!  Amazing how technology can bring us all together. I’m hoping that everyone who shows up for our session gets a good show, but also walks away with something they can use. 


What I hope to get from the week


My goals for this year are, in no order of importance, the following

  • Meet as many people as possible
  • Visit as many people on the HP Discover Zone as possible
  • Learn more about vCloud and Azure
  • Blog and Tweet about what’ going on.

As this is the first major event in my new role, it’s going to be great to see the show from an insider’s perspective. I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to deliver on my goals, but at least it’s going to be a great learning experience and that, after all, is the thing I love the most. 


Hope to see you all there,




it’s been awhile….

so it’s been a bit since I posted and as I sit here in a Toronto airport, traveling home from 2 weeks in Beijing, I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write.

The last couple of months has brought change and new experiences.

The News:

I have accepted a new role in HP Networking working for the global business unit as a technical marketing engineer. I’m sure this won’t come as much of a surprise, but I will be joining the team responsible for the HPN Network Management product, IMC.

As most people who know me are aware, and I’m sure is obvious to anyone who’s spent some time on my blog, I’ve been a huge advocate of Network Management for awhile, and specifically HPNs product IMC. In the words of one of my former peers;

” This is one of the most of obvious moves in the history of HP Networking. ”

I’ve been doing a lot of TME activities for the last few years, and I am joining an amazing team, many of whom I’ve known for years.
It’s going to be a big change moving from a sales role to a BU role, but I’m excited to learn another side of this wonderful business we all are crazy enough to love.

I’m hoping to keep up the blog and the videos, but it might be a challenge considering my former passion has now become my full time job.

Not a bad gig if you can get it. 🙂

This blog will, of course, still remain my own words, my own opinions, and not represent those of my employer in any way.


Providing Network Leadership

So I have to give credit where credit is due…  a lot of this post is directly inspired by the book Network Maturity Model By William J. Bauman et al.   It’s written in a very academic style, but there are a ton of little gems in there which I think are worth pointing out. I’m expanding a lot on some of these key points, so please feel free to drink from the source rather than the muddy water down river. 🙂


The first section of the actual maturity model deals with Enterprise Network Leadership. I think it’s important to say that when I’m using the word Enterprise, I’m not talking about a large organization. I’m just talking about the business. Whether you are responsible for a few switches and a router, firewall or UTM appliance, or you are responsible for a multinational organization with a global WAN, several large campus environments, and smaller branches spanning the globe. I think the same general guidelines apply. 


Have a Plan

The network leaders are responsible for creating a network business plan that aligns with business strategy. Now keep in mind, that there are a LOT of very talented people in the industry who are consultants. These hired guns are often jumping from engagement to engagement, so this might not apply to them. But for those who are in an Network Operation role, it’s critically important to understand:

  • What the business goals are?
  • Who the LOB application stakeholders are?
  • What their requirements are? What applications are important to them?
  • How the LOB stakeholders directly impact the profitability of the business?

and most importantly; 

  • How the ability, or lack thereof, to successfully run the network can impact the business directly?

The Network Leaders are responsible for creating both the vision/strategy, and the specific policies and procedures to support the vision in the short, mid, and long term. From specific policies such as acceptable-use statements to longer term procedures such as a planned equipment refresh on a well defined rotational schedule to avoid a massive CAPEX hit, the network leader is responsible for making sure the network has the appropriate capacity, resiliency, availability, redundancy, etc.. to meet the business requirements. 

To create the vision/strategy from which the policies and procedures are derived, they should also be ensuring that the requirements of those stockholders are taken into account when planning out the network and all the operational tasks around it. This is very broad and can be summed up as “understand the business requirements”.


Understanding the Business Requirements

This one gets thrown around a lot in our industry. But to be honest, I find that VERY few hardcore network professionals actually take the time to do this. It’s my opinion, obvious bias aside, that the network is one of the fundamental pillars of almost every network in the world now.  I’m choosing not to use the word “foundation” because I don’t believe that’s true. 

A foundation to me is something that business is built upon.  Imagine if you will that a business is responsible for making hand-made clothes. Or is responsible for growing food. I think it’s obvious that the network is not the MOST important thing. In both of these examples, I don’t think any would argue that the business will be incapable of creating it’s product without the network. 

But imagine if the network is down and they are unable to receive orders from their customers? What if the network is down and they are unable to use their ERP system to ship orders? Or to send invoices?  

I think we can all agree that if the products sit on the shelf, it’s not a good thing. Money doesn’t come in. And soon, global economic catastrophe is created, cats sleeping with dogs, total chaos!!!

All because a network went down. 

(OK… maybe I’m exaggerating a little. )


So what kind of things should be taken into account when we say “understand the business requirements”?  Here’s some of the top of my list:

What governance, risk, or compliance initiatives does the company have to adhere to?

GRC? Huh? Depending on the specific industry, country, or region of the world that the company operates in, there may many legally enforced burdens that are placed on the company. The major examples everyone seems to know are SOX, Graham Leech, HIPPA, etc..  These all have different, although often complimentary, requirements that depending on the nature of the business, you need to be aware of as a network leader.  

If you are a network leader and you are having trouble getting budget approval for some much needed networking upgrades. Learn about which GRC requirements apply to your organization. It’s amazing how quickly the purse strings open when the business leaders understand that the failure to do these upgrades may have a direct impact on a GRC requirement that they can be personally held liable for. 

What are the different Line of Business applications and how critical are they to the success or failure of the business?

Most companies have a LOT of applications they “need” to do their business. But there is a BIG difference between their Microsoft Lync implementation which they use to increase collaboration between globally dispersed teams, and their ERP system which is responsible for making sure that orders are received, shipping requests are sent to the warehouse, and invoices are sent to the customer. 

If you are a network leader and you are having trouble getting budget for some much needed networking upgrades. Learn which of the LOB applications are directly related to the business’s ability to take orders, ship product, or invoice customers. When requesting budget for the upgrade, make sure you make it clear what hourly business cost can for network downtime. 

An easy way to calculate this, if you have access to the numbers, is to look at the annual report. Figure out what the revenue was last year, divide by 365. divide by 8 and you know have the hourly cost of downtime. 


For me, these are two of the most important “understand the business” requirements, but I’m sure there are a ton of others ones.  PLease feel free to call out more examples in the comments! I’d love to hear them!






Functioning with ADHD in an IT world

So I’ve got a reputation of been a productive guy. I’ve heard through the grape vine that some of the people in my company think I don’t sleep. I work constantly. I have no life. It’s funny the things that are said out there.

So in an effort to dispel the myths, and to possibly inspire others, I’m going to dish out some of my secrets.

 I’m ADHD.

I suspect that a lot of IT Professionals can relate to a lot of the ADHD traits. In fact, I think that our industry attracts a lot of AD/H/D’res because of this industries requirement for a fractured attention span and the ability to shift focus on the fly.  I’m sure we can all relate to the ” I’m in the middle of working on this OSPF problem and I’ve got the solution right now, just let me write this down… where is that pen… hmm… what was I saying again… … Squirrel!”


One of the common misconceptions about ADD is that people with it are unable to concentrate. The truth is, that the pendulum swings both ways. We can be hyper or hypo attentive. In plain english, we are either unable to focus at all, or unable to shift focus.  In our industry, the ability to sustain high focus for long periods of time can be a blessing when trying to troubleshoot a difficult problem. As well, the ability to shift focus on a dime and concentrate for short bursts on a new problem is also extremely useful when you are in a firefight and things are coming at you from all sides.

It’s sad to me how our school systems and parents today treat ADD as a disease that needs to be “treated” with medication. Especially when this is the very “disability” that I attribute a large part of my success to.

How do I use ADHD to my advantage?

Living with ADHD does require putting some tools, habits, and processes in place so that you don’t fall into the traps.  Like so many things in life, I think that most important part is just accepting it for what it is.  I don’t fight how I am, I flow with it.

Don’t fight the days when I can’t concentrate.

Please don’t tell my boss this, but there are some days that I’m sure I don’t get anything done at all. These are the days when I just can’t focus on anything no matter what I do. They happen. So what do I do? I water my social networks and I catch up on podcasts.

What do I mean by this? I pick up the phone and I call people I haven’t talked to in awhile. I tweet. I blog. I log into linked in and see if there are any suggestions for contacts who are not in my network. I call people I talk to all the time and argue over frame types, whether or not programatic nms’s qualify as SDN, whether or not VxLAN are complimentary or in competition. Whether or not network professionals will have a place in the world in 5 years. We argue about anything and everything. I ask about their families.

You get the picture. Basically. I pick up the phone and reach out and touch the people who have helped me grow professionally, intellectually, and emotionally over the years.

This might seem like I’m wasting time, but I promise you that when I have a problem that’s outside of my areas of expertise. I know who’s working in what areas, who’s got what special skills and who I can leverage for help.  I know who I can call just to bounce a crazy idea of off, and most importantly, I get into an environment where I’m supposed to shift from one subject to another which helps me feel sane on a day when I just can’t stay focused.

On these days, I’ve been known to go to the gym. Go for walks and catch up on industry news and technical content. Whether this is the packet pushers podcasts, something from iTunes U, the audio tracks from the http://www.INE.com CCIE written videos that I ripped. ( Yes… I paid for them! ), or sometimes even just pulling up the Khan Academy app and learning how to calculate net present value. Anything is up for grabs and I just go with what I’m inspired with on that particular day. Sometimes, I just unplug from tech and  listen to an audiobook ( currently game of thrones A storm of swords ) and let something that’s been causing me trouble muddle around in my head.  You would be surprised how often I come up with a solution by the time I get back from my walk.

I’ve found that on these kinds of days, I am usually the most creative. Ironically, these are also the days when I am totally unable to act on that creativity.

So I write things down. I used to use post-its, but I have recently switched to mostly electronic formats. I would love to say I’ve settled on one tool, but to be honest, I use apples notes app ( nice that I can synch these to outlook, to my Mac, or to my iPad/iPhone combo. ). I use Evernote, and occasionally, I still use post its.

admission of guilt: I would love to say it’s because I’m getting more ecologicaly aware, but to be honest, it’s because I kept losing the post its. 

Make Hay while the Sunshines

When I have one of those days that I am hyper focused. I work. hard. non-stop. through lunch. I produce documentation. I lab up problems that I’m having issues with, and I keep at it until I get it done. Sometimes my wife has to come into my office at 6:00pm to let me know that I missed dinner because I’m so focused.

On these kinds I open up my notes, I pick whatever is the most pressing, or often just what I feel like doing that day, and I do it. Until it’s done. no matter how late.

The other thing I do is to look at my upcoming project work and see if there’s anything I can prepare in advance. Many people with ADHD are habitual procrastinators. One of the best things I’ve had to learn how to do is to become aware of my ADHD mood and to tackle things which are not due for a couple of weeks far in advance.

This is tough. It’s really tough. But I’ve found that when I’m hyper-focused, all I have to do is to jump in and after 5 minutes or so, I don’t have worry about it anymore. My ADHD takes over and I get the task finished.

Finding your Balance

ADHD is just a different way of thinking. It’s funny to me that people have focused so much on suppressing the symptoms when they should be focused more on simply ridding the waves.  To be honest, I usually go through waves where I will be either hyper-focused, or hypo-focused for about a week at a time. So it actually works out pretty well.

Sometimes, I end up with a project deadline when I’m in a hypo-focused cycle and I’ll admit, it’s tough. But life is tough and I don’t believe in using the “I’m sorry I have a disability” is an excuse for not getting your job done. The trick is just pushing through, planning ahead and finding ways to use your ADHD to your advantage.


I think I’ll save the tools subject for a future post. There are quite a few things I’ve put in place as far as software utilities, processes, etc.. to try and work with my ADHD instead of against it. Hopefully, sharing some of my coping mechanisms might help to inspire someone else.

Final Thoughts

To me, ADHD is like so many other things in life. It is a blessing or a curse. Which one it is to you depends completely on how you perceive it and how you react to it.

Troubleshooting Performance Issues in a Virtual Environment

So today I got to sink my teeth into a good problem. Performance issues in a virtual environment.

I have to say, this is probably the first time in my career where I walked in and I didn’t have to prove it was the network. The customer was prepared. He had his NMS tools in place ( Cacti ) and had been trending various points in the network over a period of time. 

Of course we started at the 101 stage and looked at counters, and when I said “Hey, you have some issues on your ASA” he pulled up the Cacti graph and said “Yeah, that’s an offsite backup that runs at midnight, we know about it and it’s fine with us. “

Can I say it out loud?  


A lot of the customers I see are SMB/SME customers ( I am in Canada, remember? ) and although it’s uncommon to find a network with NMS tools in place, it’s even more rare to find one where they are actually using them!

I got called onsite to help out with some performance issues. The nice thing is that it was not the network, at least not yet. ( Until we’re 100% sure, I’m not going to discount anything, right? ). But we DO need to figure out where to start targeting our efforts.  

This is one of the problems I’m starting to see more and more of. Hard to troubleshoot anything when it’s in the cloud.


Picture Courtesy of Microsoft’s Online ClipArt Gallery.


No idea where the apps live in that picture, right? This gets even more interesting when you have VDI accessing virtual applications and start having performance issues on the client side. 

I know I’m going to get some snickers from this one, but my suggestion to deal with this is to create application flow maps to document how a complete transaction is made in a multi-tiered application. 

I know…  ” We can’t get them to create visio’s for the networks they already have, and you’re suggesting to ask them to create more?” 

Yeah… I know. But I can dream, right?


So let’s look at the following VDI multi-tiered application. This is pretty simple, right?

1) A client workstation connects to a Citrix Server over ICA or RDP.  

2) The citrix server browses to a web-app on a webhost.

3) The web host connects to a remote MS SQL Database and returns the results to the web host.

4) etc… 


Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 9 59 02 PM

Can’t get much easier than this right? The great thing about this is that it becomes fairly easy to overlay this to the virtual environment which starts to allow you to get a better idea of how the application is currently instantiated in the physical/virtual environment. 

Let’s look at the above example installed in a blade server environment where the three parts of this particular app flow lives on three different blades in three different chassis. 

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 9 59 07 PM

As you can see from a performance troubleshooting standpoint, we just went from a three points to check ( let’s throw out the client as that’s just screen caps ) to twenty-one points, without counting the network devices which are used to provide connectivity between the blade chassis.  

Although you can create affinity rules between VMs to ensure they are located on the same hypervisor physical host to avoid performance issues, we all know that people make mistakes, so by creating and applying the application flow map to the physical environment so you can start looking at only the specific devices which are actually involved in your specific performance issue. 

Last, but not least, I would also suggest you have on hand the storage flow maps for both the specific application as well as the relationship between the physical hypervisors hosts and their storage arrays. 

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 10 01 43 PM

I’m not a storage expert, but I’ve seen my storage buddies tell stories of Database and VDI LUNS thrashing on the same physical disks that had obviously left them with nightmares for weeks. 


Any one have any tricks or suggestions on troubleshooting application performance issues in highly virtualized environments? As we move towards “THE CLOUD” I don’t see this getting any easier. 

Let me know how you’re approaching these problems! I’d love to see a better approach! 


A different kind of SDN? Programatic NMS with Management Layer Abstractions

I was at an internal event this week where we were going over some of the amazing things that HP is working on, some which will come to market soon, and some which may never make it out of the labs. 

To answer the obvious question: No, I’m not going to talk about that.  


But during one of the sessions, an interesting conversation took place which I wanted to put some additional thoughts down on paper, or e-paper as it were. 

As is the case so much in the industry right now, the conversation came down to a discussion around this question

What is SDN?

The speakers statement, which I’ll look at below, was that programatic NMS is NOT SDN.  Now he is a very smart guy and I do have to say that his presentation was very good, but I had to object to that particular point.  I’m still not sure if I’m right or wrong, but I think it’s worth at least examining the point. 

So first I’ll refer to Martin Casado’s slideshare presentation which you should check out as I’m going to take parts of it out of it’s context in an attempt to make my point.  ( As they say, when you take the text out of the context, all you’re left with is a con ).

For those of you who didn’t check it out, the presentation focuses on the idea that the true benefit of SDN is the power of abstractions. The idea that abstractions allow for much greater flexibility and evolution because you don’t have to worry about the fundamental underlying complexity.

Imagine if all the software in the world had to be written in assembler. I’ll wait while your body works out the sudden urge to scream and jump out a window.

Screen Shot 2012 08 23 at 3 08 07 PM


So one of the fundamental tenants of SDN is that

Abstractions are the way forward.

I agree with this 100%. Abstractions take away the underlying complexity and allows us to concentrate on the task at hand. 

So the slideshare preso above deals primarily with the idea of control plane abstraction in the sense that OpenFlow’s purpose is to allow for instructions sets abstractions to be sent to OpenFlow enabled switches which will allow them to bypass all the current control plane complexities that we all know and love in the current network paradigm.


I’m 100% in agreement with that.

But what is of particular interest to me is the idea of management plane abstractions. Now for those who don’t know already, I’m an HPN Solutions Architect and an avid evangelist of HPN’s NMS platform, HP IMC.  ( Full Disclosure ).  So I will be attempting to make this argument in context of what IMC is providing now and where I see it going. 



If one of the core ideas behind SDN is the idea that abstractions NEED to be created in the networking world to allow us to evolve past the current “protocol-per-problem” paradigm that we are all living in,

It seems to me that allowing management plane abstractions should also have value and should qualify as a type of software defined networking. 

I fully admit that this will not be as revolutionary as the idea of a complete control-plane abstraction like what OpenFlow is promising in the next 2-10 years. ( I’m not holding my breath ). But I do strongly believe that there is some pretty amazing benefits that can be gained today IF the management abstractions are in place.

As well, I also believe that this could easily be the current missing-link that will allow us to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be.



So let’s look at the following simple example so I can try and make my case.

Imagine, if you will, you are running a dual-vendor strategy. I know you all are, Gartner said it’s a good thing, right?  But now you have discovered that MOST of the current networking hardware manufacturers are offering NMS platforms that limited to managing their own devices. 

So let’s imagine that you are running Cisco and HP equipment in your network and you want to deploy a new VLAN across your data centre. 

Assuming that your NMS’s are single-vendor NMSs ( like Cisco Prime LMS ). You’re stuck  You MIGHT be able to login in to your Cisco Prime LMS interface and deploy VLANs, or you might be able to rely on VTP or GVRP/MVRP to take care of this for you. 

Now if you were using HP IMC, we have already abstracted the management layer to allow you to just say ” DEPLOY VLAN 15″ and the programatic NMS actually takes care of the rest. 

Check out this video for a demo.

So how does this work? 


Let’s take the a step further and look at this in the context of SDN. Imagine the following scenario if you will.

A user plugs in to the switch. What happens

1) The dot1x supplicant kicks in and says ” Hey NAC ( sorry BYOD ) server; Is this guy allowed?”

2) RADIUS server says ” Yup, but he’s a sales user, so he needs to go in VLAN 15 

So far, this is pretty standard, right? RADIUS server responds back with the tunnel-group attribute or some other proprietary VSA and the switch puts the user in the right VLAN, right?




The NAC software has no knowledge of whether or not that particular VLAN is actually present on switch where the user is plugged in.


So imagine if there was a programatic interface, like the eAPI in HP’s IMC that would allow the conversation to go like this. 

1) User plugs in to a switch, dot1X process takes place, switch contacts NAC software through RADIUS protocol and the RADIUS server says ” This user should be in VLAN 15 “

2) The NAC software checks with the NMS to see whether or not the VLAN which we are trying to deploy is actually present on the switch in question. 

3) The Programatic NMS would then check the VLAN database to see if that specific VLAN is present on the switch in question. In this case, the the NMS will respond with a no.

4) So now the NAC program knows that the user authentication is going to fail because the underlying infrastructure does not have the necessary services in place ( the VLAN ) to be able to complete the transaction, so it then asks the programatic NMS to deploy the VLAN in question to that switch. 

 5) The programatic NMS would then connect to the switch, and add the VLAN. The NMS would check the bridge MIB, or whatever other MIB might be present to verify that the transaction was completed successfully.

6) After some arbitrary time value, the NAC program would then ask the NMS if the VLAN is present on the switch.

7) The NMS would then respond with a resounding ” Yes! It’s there!” 

 8) The NAC program would then complete the RADIUS request, place the user in the right VLAN and everything is great, right?


The best part of this, no human intervention, the program is able to request a service from the network, the network is able to respond that it’s not present and reconfigure itself to meet the needs of the application. 


So where’s the abstractions?

Look at the flow above. The NAC program asked ” Is this VLAN present” it didn’t say “When I run the command show VTP Database, after you parse through it, is VLAN 15 present?”  which of course would not work on a juniper or hp switch. 

The NAC program uses the self-describing RESTful API calls like device id15

And the NMS responds with an XML output which does not contain that VLAN ID.

Then the NAC program sends an HTTP post to the NMS and says


note: I don’t have the eAPI SDK in front of me, so I’m making up those calls, I’ll try and fix them later with the real syntax when I have a chance. 

And then the really cool part happens.

If it’s a Cisco IOS based Switch, it uses the Cisco IOS switch device adapters which define the specific commands or SNMP OIDS to set the VLAN on that particular platform.

If it’s an HP Comware switch, it uses the HP Comware switch device adapters which define the specific commands or SNMP OIDS to set the VLAN on that particular platform.

If it’s an HP Procurve switch, it uses the HP Procurve switch device adapters which define the specific commands or SNMP OIDS to set the VLAN on that particular platform.



No matter what kind of switch that user is connected to, HP’s Intelligent Management Center will hide all of the underlying complexity from the NAC program and respond to the same specific RESTFull API call. 


So instead of all the device specific syntax, it’s almost like a simple conversation.

NAC Program to HP IMC ” Is VLAN 15 present? “

HP IMC to NAC Program  ” Nope”

NAC Program to IMC ” Can you please add it for me?”

HP IMC to switch ” Add VLAN 15 to your configuration “

HP IMC to switch ” You done yet? “

NAC Program to HP IMC ” You done yet? “

HP IMC to NAC Program ” I’m done”


Now are their other failure modes which should probably be checked? Absolutely, off the top of my head, you would also have to check the dot1q trunks between the device and the L3 interface for that particular VLAN to ensure that you have end2end L2 connectivity and you’re not going to create an isolated orphan VLAN which dumps you user into no connectivity, but that’s just adding more logic to the program.


So back to the original question: Does a programatic NMS qualify as SDN or not?

Let me through out the following description. 

A paradigm where a application can request a specific service from the network and the network is able to dynamically reconfigure itself to respond to the applications specific requirements. 


That kinds sound like software defined networking to me.

What do you think? Is it the law-of-physic changing paradigm that much of the media would have you believe is coming? Nope. But does it have value? I’ll let you decide. 

BYOD – The other implications

WARNING – MIDNIGHT POST.  I’ll come back and fix this in a couple of days, but it’s been banging around in my head and I needed to get it out.


So I’m going to get a little controversial here. I’m actually hoping to have my thought process attacked on this one. Hopefully, not personally attacked, but I guess that’s the danger of blogging.


Open Disclosure: I don’t work for Cisco.  I guess that’s why I can write this piece and think this through as I’ve got nothing to lose here. I’m sure someone will point and say “Hey! HP GUY!” but I truly don’t feel that whom I work for is going to change the power of this argument.  But because some people get wrapped around those things, I wanted to state that loud and clearly. I am an HP employee. This blog is purely my own thoughts and musings and i no way represents that of my employer in any way shape or form. 🙂


So I was at HP discover last week and had a chance to catch up with a TON of customers and partners, as well as have some great conversations with the independent bloggers. To be honest, those are my favorite, because they are the last people to drink the koolaid.If you are trying to convince them of anything, you better have a well constructed argument and proof to support it.


So the other topic on everyone’s minds was of course BYOD. Bring Your own Device. Other than Openflow and SDN, I think this is one of the most talked about waves that’s hitting our industry right now. Of course we had the usual discussions about access control, DHCP finger printing, user-agent finger printing, dot1x , web portal, etc… but we also got into some VERY interesting discussions about the greater implications of BYOD.

Now keep in mind, I’m an old voice guy too. My voice books are so old, they’re actually blue, and not that snazzy purple color that you kids use to color coordinate your bookshelves. I know what the SEP in the Callmanagler stands for, and I remember CCM when it shipped on CDs. ( yes, it actually did kids ).


So in some ways, I feel like I’m watching my past wash away when I type the following words.

Voice is dead.

Now it might be a few years before everyone realizes it, but there are a lot of forces going on in our industry right now and they seem to all be pointing to a place where handsets are obsolete.

The argument goes something like this


1) BYOD is here and it’s not going away.

2) If BYOD is here, then employees are probably teleworking and using their cel phones.

3) If customers are teleworking and using their cel phones, they don’t need desk phones.

4) If customers don’t need desk phones…. they don’t need desk phones.


The implications of this really started to hit me and I did a self check and realized, I don’t remember the last time I used a “normal” handset. I work out of a home office. I use a cel phone with unlimited calling.

Not to mention the fact that HP has hooked us up with Microsoft Lync, which means plugin the headset and escalate that IM call to voice or video whenever I need it. and NO handset involved. Oh.. and the Lync client for the iPhone was released too.

The last time I looked, this was an approx $1-2B business for Cisco, so I’m fairly sure they don’t want anyone to realize that investing in new handsets is probably not the wisest move right now. This is a Billion dollar market that they are going to have to replace with something else, or continue to milk it for as long as they can.

Now to be honest, there’s always the Call Center argument which I’ll try and stop right now. Call Centers are not going away. There’s always going to be a business need. Voicemail systems? They might just become part of the cloud, I don’t know. But traditional handset deployments? I think maybe people just haven’t realized they have been throwing money away.


On with the rambling midnight logic!


The extension to this logic is that if we’re done with handsets, then

why do we need all this POE everywhere?


To be honest, I think the only phone that every used anywhere close to the 15.4 watts of 802.3af was the Cisco 7970 series. Most other phones used 2-3 watts, maybe up to 7 with a speaker phone on. So the whole ” I need all 24 ports running full 802.3af class 3 devices at the same time ” is a something that never actually happened ( or at least I’ve never seen it ). 

Now we’re seeing RFP disqualifiers requiring 740 watts per switch ( full 15 watts on all 48 ports ), and I’m sure we will soon be seeing new models coming out with 1,440 watts of POE+ power!!! ( 30 watts per port on a 48 port switch ).

Now POE is an enabling tool, we still need it for access points at the least, but other than that? I can’t name one practical business tool that runs on POE right now that would not qualify as a corner case.

And I don’t see anyone plugging in 24 or 48 access points into the same switch.


I would love a sanity check here guys. Is it just me? I’m making an informed prediction throw a crystal ball. Feel free to let me know if my ball’s broken. 🙂