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Campus Networks

The audacity of innovation – Customers moving from the physical to virtual

by bobyee on ‎05-08-2015 11:06 AM (2,801 Views)

I’d like to share some very cool innovations that I’ve seen in some of our customers, as they transition from a physical world to a virtual world.  You’re probably thinking virtual servers or virtual storage.  I’m talking virtualizing the core business.  I’ll provide examples of 3 very different businesses:


Jim Henson Company – Yes, this is the home of the Muppets.  Their magic is the performance of puppets; and the interaction that happens between them.   Along the way this customer found that they had a wildly successful business; and found a productivity challenge as each performance had to be videotaped and then edited.  So what’s the big deal?  Jim Henson Company had the audacity to develop a proprietary workstation and software, with a sensor glove, to automate puppetry.  Think of ePuppetry.  How cool is that?  They not only improved productivity by skipping the whole video taping process and going from performance straight into editing, but they can more easily do special effects.  They are now state-of-the-art in virtual simulation in Hollywood.  Here’s what I heard from the customer: “Time is money in this town. Basically what we’ve done on the editing side of things is if we reduce the time of transferring digital data from cameras to storage in under thirty minutes, which once took eight hours, that’s huge.”  This new paradigm of digital puppetry generates terabytes worth of data for each film; and they needed to upgrade their switching to a 40G node! 


Miller Welding and Machine Company – This is a middle America 3rd generation family run business.  I was really impressed by our host who was the grandson of the founder.  “Complacency is a four letter word.  We never want to be complacence or we’ll be left behind,” he says.  So what’s so cool with a welding company?  They virtualized the quality control of their welding.  It’s not enough to do a physical visual inspection of the weld, in today’s competitive world. They’re capturing data like temperature, duration, and amount of weld for manual welders, not just their robotic welders.  That’s pretty audacious out of the box thinking. This rural Pennsylvania company is on their way to becoming world-class, so they can compete with other metal fabricators on a world stage.  One of their international automotive OEM customers is pushing them to become world class in quality; and that requires collecting a myriad of data.  Upgrading to a highly available switching infrastructure was necessitated by the growth in data and just in time manufacturing requirements.  At each welding station there’s power, compressed air, and now an Ethernet port.  That was pretty cool.


University of New Mexico – Universities have really pushed applications into the virtual space; and examples include the transition to a digital curriculum, distance learning, virtual collaboration with social media or increased mobility with BYOD.   The push into the virtual space generates a plethora of data; and necessitates network infrastructure refreshes.  There was one engineer at the university who articulated his challenge: “The devices that we have in now kind of capped out … to go with the same equipment that we had, we would have had to upgrade all the line cards, upgrade the management modules … we could do all those upgrades into a 15-year-old chassis or we can look at something new.”  I couldn’t help but to smile, as we have a Distributed Scale Out capability with our stackable core switches, which provide chassis level performance in a pay-as-you-grow stackable form factor.


These are all examples of our customers changing the game, developing a new paradigm or getting to the next level.  In many ways, we’re on the same innovation highway moving from the physical to virtual with our own new paradigm of an open world with SDN, Openflow, and a multi-vendor OpenDaylight Controller.