Remember the days of networking’s summer? In the mid to late 90’s we were the cool kids in town; life in networking was fast-paced and fun. The Internet was hitting main stream, businesses put network reach at the center of their customer sales and support models, and technology was rapidly evolving. Ah, these were the glory days.
It feels more like winter now. “Old tech” is tired. The old IP architectures can’t keep pace with the speed of business innovation, and companies like Google and Amazon, who have moved to a New IP architecture that’s software-enabled, low cost and agile, are able to disrupt and out-innovate a wide variety of industries.
Maybe we got too comfortable. Maybe we’re in a rut with the old and familiar way of doing things. Maybe we’ve lost the talent and skills to continually integrate new technologies and tools. Truthfully, the networks themselves have become so enormously complex that none of this is that surprising. Giving up isn’t a realist option, but sometimes the enormity of the situation feels overwhelming.
Brocade went on a mission to talk with network managers and engineers around the globe to uncover the truths about life on the Net in our modern era. And we found a number of consistent themes. While we and other networking companies have technology solutions to overcome many of these challenges, users often don’t have the time to consider their options, the skills to use them, or the power to drive change. We felt it was the right time to give voice to the frustrations that people feel, day in and day out, and do so with a light-hearted humor that pokes fun at the daily absurdities which we all face. First we can laugh, then we can act.
Here’s what we heard
The old IP network has become so complex we’re afraid to change anything for fear of breaking something.
Life in networking is a constant upgrade path, but IP hardware and software don’t work together and upgrades themselves are complex and fraught with new dangers. For every problem they fix, two more might be unleashed.
The network is expensive, and the cost of maintaining our old IP networks eats up 80 percent of the annual budget, leaving little room for investment in new capabilities.
Vendors with innovative and cost effective solutions often have a difficult time breaking into accounts because proprietary solutions have purposely locked in customers, meaning they are stuck with old technology even if they want to introduce new capabilities.
The networking team is often under appreciated, seen only as a necessary evil or as “plumbing” while the power has shifted to virtualized servers and applications.
And yet…The network is more important than ever before! So how can this be?
Networks are at the center of a modern business model. As companies and industries digitize, it’s the network that drives rapid innovation, faster customer insights, better customer service and support, and more revenue. The network’s ability to support the business, and a rapid pace of business innovation, can make or break a company’s success and survival.
Yet at the same time, the old network holds us back, it’s in the way of innovation, and we just want it to get out of the way. We need a new type of network, a New IP, that’s cheaper to buy and operate, a lot more agile and programmable, and that lets us drive innovation throughout the business.
We are caught in the middle. We are in a time of great change, great opportunity, and great stress. People can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge, unable to keep pace with the rapid technology changes, ill-equipped to meet rising user expectations, and under appreciated by just about everyone.
So we brought in a cartoonist, had him talk with people in the networking industry, and turned him lose. Each week we share one new cartoon that he has created based on those conversations. It’s called On Second Thought…
On Second Thought…
On Second Thought takes a step back. It gives voice to what people in the network and IT industry are feeling, their fears and frustrations. It highlights the humorous side of this crazy situation in which we find ourselves, collectively, as a networking industry. It is equal-opportunity satire: we poke fun at the status quo and dominant vendor, Cisco. We poke fun at ourselves and how unknown Brocade is in networking despite twenty years of business in the data center. And we make fun of buyers and users of networking technology and the complexity we’ve created for ourselves.
We start with humor and giving voice to pent up feelings and frustrations, but by calling the campaign “On Second Thought” we also give a nod to a brighter future, an alternative approach, and perhaps a more sane and rational tomorrow. We aren’t helpless, we aren’t stuck, and we aren’t without the technology, intelligence and will to move forward. It’s just hard.
But humor helps. If we bring a smile to your morning, if we start a conversation, if people feel that they are not alone in this journey, then we’ve achieved our goal.
We believe that networks lie at the heart of every successful business, organization and government agency. We believe networks have the power to transform and transcend. And we believe that if we work collectively and without bias, acknowledge the truth of where we are today and commit to a better future tomorrow, we can get there together.