Strategy and Innovation: Weighing in on Networking in the Virtual Era, Dell World 2011

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It was a privilege to attend Dell World 2011 and to sit in on Networking in the Virtual Era: Agility and Choice on October 13th.

This diverse session, led by Larry Hart, Worldwide Network Marketing Sr. Director for Dell, included two experts who work in popular fields: sports and social media. Chris Wilson from ESPN (Sr. Director of Worldwide Network) talked about innovation. Chris’s demanding schedule includes managing up to 100 simultaneous live events a year.  Jeremy Stinson (VP of Network Operations, myYearbook) took a break from the flourishing myYearbook social media site (at 70 million + users and counting) to add his insight about critical networking priorities.

The session kicked off with discussion of the Virtual Era, and the challenges it presents with virtualization, mobility, social networking, cloud computing, and massive data growth. The presenters gave us some interesting statistics:

  • 33% of workers today access social networking sites at work from their mobile devices.
  • 77 % of businesses think mobile security is their number one priority.
  • 90 % of the companies queried said they would support corporate applications on personal mobile devices.
  • 63 million people will work remotely by 2016, which is about 43% of the American workforce.
  • What’s the #1 trend? In the next decade, consumerization of IT will have the most impact on enterprise IT.

It’s thought-provoking that personal devices at work came up in the first few minutes. Is this issue topmost on the minds of CIOs? Based on reports by Dell, it seems so. (Read about the revolution in mobile devices at work, here.)

Larry, Chris and Jeremy covered a lot of ground in a short hour. They made it clear that technology changes demand a new business paradigm. And, about getting there? That question prompted a dialogue about software-defined networking and virtualization. The consensus was that a coherent company strategy was a “must have” for business to make it in today’s virtual computing, data storage, networking, smart data delivery and service climate.

Have you heard the saying “All hat and no cattle”? This session was definitely not all “concept and no tech.” Networking and switching tactics were outlined as a method to improve data handling. How? Move processing closer – physically – to users by using smaller, workload-aware switches, incorporated as part of a network fabric. The small switch sits at the rack level, where it pushes the load balance down to the top of the rack. This keeps the data close to the users for faster response times. Great concept.

The overall message was clear:  CIOs can address and simplify the many concerns they have about networking, cloud, and personal devices at work, beginning with an efficient IT strategy that includes a move to a more holistic, virtualized environment that is workload-aware, innovative, personal-device friendly, but still operates by managing bandwidth, access, and governance.

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