Opening Keynote Presentation by Tom Burns, SVP, Dell EMC Networking and Solutions
Continual Innovation Through Continual Reinvention
The second day opened with a keynote speech from DellEMC’s head of networking, Tom Burns. He talked about how enterprises are undertaking a digital transformation, prompting continual innovation from the IT industry. For him, the future means machine learning, AI, billions of connected devices, robotics, IoT, it all means heavy disruption. As a proof point, he said Microsoft says 15% of its AzureStack traffic is IoT-related. The IT transformation means infrastructure needs to run both traditional and cloud-ready apps, while workforce transformation sees multiple devices per individual, and in future the office won’t exist. The associated security transformation will require embedded/cyber security in all software and devices.
Datacentre futures will see software-defined everything – it will be a platform not a set of hardware boxes, Burns said. It will enable speed and innovation, and datacentres are moving to the edge and becoming modular.
On the future of networking, Burns said proprietary hardware and protocols won’t work, disaggregation of hardware as well as protocols and software is the future, all open source. Software-defined everything is growing exponentially.
Keynote Session – New Business and Technology Models: Reinventing the Enterprise and the Vendor Community
Chaired by Brandon Butler, Senior Research Analyst – Network Infrastructure, IDC
Panellists: Mansour Karam, CEO and Founder, Apstra; Sachin Gupta, Senior Vice President, Product Management, Enterprise Networking, Cisco; Kevin Deierling, Vice President of Marketing, Mellanox; Tom Burns, Senior Vice President, DellEMC Networking and Solutions
Why is the network industry at a critical juncture, asked Brandon Butler. Mansour Karam said scalable, reliable networks were required to underpin digital transformation. This implies lower TOC and intent-based networking.
Sachin Gupta said there will be a million new devices connecting to networks every hour by 2020. Kevin Deierling said there is a massive amount of data around, saying that a web access generates a thousand times more data in the datacentre as systems fire up to sell you something, and this means a need for faster everything. Tom Burns said companies need to embrace digital transformation.
Butler said there’s been a shift from hardware to software-based systems, but this is only now happening to networks. Why? Sachin Gupta said that intent-based networking brings innovation, and the need to monetise and deliver software as a subscription. Burns said new network technology brings reliability and speed.
Butler asked for a definition of intent-based networking. Karam said it is about managing the network in a simple way, so humans need only to provide the intent not manage detail. It has to be an open, automated disaggregated infrastructure. Vendors are now opening their APIs to configure devices and collect telemetry. It requires a programmable infrastructure. Burns said configuration and automation tools should be the same for both network and compute – eg VMware NSX can monitor the entire stack. Disaggregation gets easier when you’re using same tools across the environment.
Butler asked if automation and machine learning will make systems management easier. Karam said people use these terms without understanding that they mean. Automation means ensuring connectivity is working as expected, but also enables the correct security posture, and ensures traffic flows are as you want.
Conference Debate Session V—Where Will Artificial Intelligence Make the Biggest Impact? And Where Will It Fizzle?
Introduced & chaired by Jason Bloomberg, President, Intellyx; Contributor, Forbes
Panellists: Sam Liang, CEO and Founder, AiSense; Dr. Vinod Peris, SVP, Central Software Group, CA Technologies; Greg Fitzgerald, Chief Marketing Officer, JASK
Jason Bloomberg showed some cartoons that illustrated popular concerns over AI – and so his first question was about use cases for AI. Vinod Peris gave the example of financial institutions protecting against fraud and reducing risk by checking customer activity for anomalous behaviour. Sam Liang said he sees voice recognition as the most important AI application. Greg FitzGerald said JASK uses AI to help people provide better situational analysis.
What about the challenges, asked Boomberg. FitzGerald said AI needed more data, in order to help AI systems learn and so make better decisions. Peris said self-driving cars will take a long time to fulfil their potential because regulations are slowing innovation. Liang said that AI is anything we haven’t done yet – for example, OCR works today but 20 years ago it didn’t.
Bloomberg asked whether AI should be used for problems people aren’t good at, or should it mimic humans. Peris said it should not be used for deception because you want to know whether you’re talking to a person. Liang said AI won’t replace people but will augment human intelligence. As an example, he said in the medical field, medical AI still lags humans for accuracy but the combination of both is much better. Peris worried that robots could be making us dumber and cited the way that GPS-based satnav system lead people astray.
Conference Debate Session VI— The Insidious Danger of Botnets: They Are Everywhere. They Are Multiplying
Introduced & chaired by Mike Spanbauer, Vice President of Research and Strategy, NSS Labs
Panellists: Peter Brecl, Director of Product Management, Security Services, CenturyLink; Wayne Burke, Technology Research Innovator, EC Council; Cricket Liu, Chief DNS Architect, Infoblox; Arabella Hallawell, NETSCOUT Senior Director, Strategic Marketing; Michael Levin, Former United States Secret Service Deputy Director, US Department of Homeland Security
Introducing the session, Mike Spanbauer said botnets drive attacks from DDOS to crypto-mining and crypto-jacking for coin mining. Attack targets are anything with a CPU. As for the impact of botnets: direct costs are high but the indirect effects are 10 times bigger.
Mike Levin said Facebook is not as dangerous as botnets. Arabella Hallawell said botnets are a global problem, and that people need to adhere to best practices to protect us all. Cricket Liu said all botnets need to communicate with their command and control centre using DNS, so his company has been working on ensuring that known botnet addresses don’t connect. Peter Brecl said that the network is a sensor, so we know who is hosting command and control infrastructure and can disrupt their comms if they don’t respond to requests to stop. We take down 40 C&C infrastructures every month, he said.
Asked about the role of government, Levin said government needs to provide direction and guidance to help tackle the issues, then end users need to be educated.
Conference Debate Session VII—Next-Generation Service Provisioning – Standards, Challenges, Opportunities
Introduced & Chaired by Rajesh Ghai, Research Director, Telecom Network Infrastructure, IDC
Panellists: Wayne Cheung, Director of SP Marketing, Juniper Networks; Dan Pitt, Senior VP, MEF; Michael Hallett, Co-Founder and Head of Global Sales and Business Development, NetFoundry; Paul Gampe, Chief Technology Officer, PCCW Global; Damon Ennis, Senior Vice President of Products, Silver Peak Systems; Mike Frane, VP Product Management, Windstream
Rajesh Ghai’s introduction discussed the core carrier challenges: commoditisation, competition, complexity. Wayne Cheung said the network edges are turning into edge cloud, and these are needed, he said, to support new innovative services. Mike Frane said that BSS and OSS not easily automatable. Asked about the current state of innovation, Paul Gampe said that industry collaboration is key, and that PCCW is a proud member of the MEF which he described as a key standards organisation. Service providers need to be able to manage our network as if it were their own using RESTful APIs, he said. Dan Pitt said east-west APIs concatenate services between enterprises – they set up a service. In future we’ll need to be able to set up the network to support a service in real time. 5G will allow us to do service slicing, and dynamically configure the network in real time.
Conference Debate Session VIII—Finally! New Storage Paradigms for Enterprise Petabytes and Exabytes
Introduced & Chaired by Steve McDowell, Senior Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
Panellists: Lynn Lucas, Chief Marketing Officer, Cohesity; Tom Leyden, Vice President Corporate Marketing, Excelero; Kevin Deierling, Vice President of Marketing, Mellanox Technologies; Thad Omura, EVP of Marketing, ScaleFlux; Stefaan Vervaet, Sr. Dir. Product Marketing & Alliances, Data Center Systems Business Unit, Western Digital Corporation
McDowell opened the session with a discussion of data tiers and the uses of high-speed to low-speed media. For him, interconnect disruption is happening. But is direct-attached storage dead, he asked. Kevin Deierling said not quite – but it does have to be shared. Tom Leyden said that leading enterprises are those who can access and process faster – this means using NVMe but also new architectures that eliminate bottlenecks – which usually means storage controllers, so you need to eliminate those and make the storage accessible over the Ethernet network. Lynn Lucas said software-defined storage allows IT to abstract storage and deliver services independent of where the data lives.
What about latency, such as in analytics apps, asked McDowell, where data placement is critical. Lynn Lucas said that business owners don’t care about data location but IT does. Stefaan Varvaet said the replacement of traditional SANs is definitely happening. Kevin Deierling said hyper-convergence makes infrastructures go away, while software-defined storage does the same thing for storage.
Conference Round-Up – Analyst reflections & predictions for the future
Chaired by Alan Zeichick, Tech Analyst, Camden Associates
Panellists: Jeremiah Caron,Global Head of Research and Analysis, GlobalData; Scott Raynovich Principal Analyst, Futuriom; Rajesh Ghai, Research Director, Telecom Network Infrastructure, IDC
What surprised you at the event, asked Alan Zeichick.
Jeremiah Caron said he eas surprised to hear that IoT for business, also some networks, are not fit for purpose. He said with respect to security that there are too many different approaches and players, and while companies are trying to make the impossible possible using automation to keep ahead of the threats, the market is too fragmented. Rajesh Ghai said he was not astounded but was excited by machine learning and AI use cases. Automation is the way to cut costs, and then use data to provide insights and analysis. Voice recognition using AI was a highlight for him. Scott Raynovich said AI is a great tool, and it’s a horizontal technology that anyone can apply to their apps, citing event attendees JASK, Apstra, Cohesity and others. He noted that startup activity is very strong right now.
But what about negatives? What’s not right, Zeichick asked.
Caron said he found nothing negative but was amused by IoT which he described as “a mess of opportunities”.
Raynovich said that IoT is hyped. “I’m boggled things that are happening in China – have their own FANG* alternative, and China is spending $5bn to make them a leader in AI technology. Tech is being weaponised – everyone is doing it.”
Ghai said he agreed – China wants to lead the world.
*FANG: Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google
And with that, the end of the debate drew the plenary session to a close.