Vendor, and Media, Brain Freeze

This morning I found a press release from Telefonica that described their cooperation with China Unicom and Telstra on creating a platform for managing SIMs used for embedded M2M applications.  The solution will be compatible with the GSMA standard and Giesecke&Devrient, a German-based integrator, will provide technology support.

What I find interesting about this is the fact that three operators are doing what some vendor should have been doing, and this is reflective of the problem in the telecom and even Internet space.  Particularly when you combine this with the operators taking the initiative in content (I blogged on that earlier this week) and even with Google’s initiative in OpenFlow.

This gets back to Cisco’s “architectures” theme.  Forget for the moment what the specifics of the story was.  The most important thing may be that there IS a story.  If the fairy tale industry of the past were modeled like the networking industry of the present, we’d have thrown kids a set of Scrabble letters and told them to have a ball.  Since when has it been the buyers’ responsibility to figure out what to do with a product, to build the business case for it?

Another interesting point is that enterprises are sliding into the same position as the operators took four years ago regarding vendor support for strategy.  Operators then rated their vendors “unsatisfactory” in their support for operator business goals.  Today, enterprises rate their network vendors as “marginally satisfactory” in the same category, down from “satisfactory” back in 2010.

I think this demonstrates that Cisco had motives beyond the cynical for their Live pronouncements on architecture (though cynicism likely played a part).  Network vendors, particularly those who sell in the operator space, need to show not the letters or words but the WHOLE STORY to the buyer, because the buyer wants somebody to take responsibility.

But there’s another side to this, another truth.  Since 1991 when I started to survey and model buyer behavior on a large scale, I’ve seen the influence of the media fall from second place (behind “experience of a trusted peer”) to sixth place in terms of decision support.    Let me offer an example.  One online publication has a post today that says that “some believe Cisco ONE misses the mark”.  OK, well some also believe that we never landed on the moon, that the moon is made of green cheese, that aliens from it visit us…you get the picture.  You cannot define an issue by saying that any solution that someone holds is as good as any other.  It’s particularly bad when the piece goes on to list all of the applications that SDNs are being touted as supporting.  If SDNs are what the standard currently defines, then that “support” doesn’t come from the SDN but something outside it.  SDNs don’t even address those issues today.

Then there’s the cloud.  Everyone knows that Amazon is the runaway leader in the public cloud, at least if you read.  The problem with that truth is that it’s like saying “Runs-Away” is leading in the Derby a half-step out of the gate.  We have at this moment realized perhaps four-tenths of one percent of public cloud revenue opportunity.  Who cares who leads, unless the leader is addressing the issues that will drive the other 99.6% into realization?  And how do we find out what that issue set is when nobody talks about what the real opportunities are or what’s missing to address them?

Cisco stock, as of this morning, is down over 6% YTD.  Ericsson is down over 13%, and Juniper over 22%.  If I were an executive in these companies I’d be demanding to know why we weren’t doing better.  Same if I were a board member or a big investor.  Only Alcatel-Lucent of the key network equipment vendors is up (by under 4%).  This is not the state of a healthy industry, and that in part is because we don’t have a healthy market.  We need to fix our vision of the future to achieve it.


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