Looking Back, Looking Forward

On this, the first “real” post of 2017, I thought it would be useful to reflect on the year that has passed, and consider the year that is coming. First off, 2016 in numbers—

  • Read 58 Books (15333 pages)
  • 115,739 blog visits (according to WordPress)
  • Wrote 110,000 words for blogs, technical papers, etc.
  • Wrote 25,000 words for PhD seminars, etc.
  • Created 850 slides
  • Recorded 14 hours of videos/webinars

These are all conservative numbers for the most part… I’ve not included journal and blog reading, nor have I tried to accurately count my writing output, as I often find it more frustrating than worthwhile. In the coming year, I plan to finish a book with Pearson, record at least one more video series (potentially more), and continue apace with blogging and other writing.

In 2016, I think we started to see the future of the networking market actually take shape. There seem to be three prongs developing; either companies will move their processing to the cloud, they will move to more hyperconverged/vertical solutions (essentially outsourcing design and architecture to vendors and consulting firms), or move to disaggregation. The day of the router as an appliance is done; we are moving to the world of choosing between the network as an appliance or build it yourself.

For vendors, this is means a major shift in their business models. For engineers, this means you either become an interface to a company providing the appliance, or you become an engineer who knows how to build things from parts and pieces. The market for the middle, the appliance focused engineer of today, is coming to an end, I think. It may, of course, take five or six years more for this to play out, but it seems fairly certain this is the future, given current trends.

Does this mean we all need to learn to be full time coders? No. What it does mean is that we need to step up to the plate and learn what we have been building all these years for real. You are going to face the choice of being completely obsessed with a single vendor or trying to remain technology based in stronger terms than ever in the coming year.

I also tend to think the networking industry is awash in vendor focused forums, augmented by narrowly focused forums—to our own detriment. There is no single general level, industry wide, non-vendor focused show or forum I can think of that is succeeding. Interop is dying (or dead)—the current leadership there is lost, with no apparent idea of how to take this venerable old venue into the future. I’m hoping SDxE “works,” (the dates are now the 26th through the 29th of September in Austin, Texas) because the networking world needs a show that isn’t Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, Amazon, Dell/EMC, etc. It’s not that any of these vendor focused shows are bad, it is that we need something more if we are going to bring this industry forward.

So—there it is, my thoughts on 2016 and 2017. I will be picking up on my blogging schedule over the next couple of weeks.