Light Reading
Hard times are going to start around Christmas for many SDN startups.

Breakfast With... Pica8's Steve Garrison

Mitch Wagner
8/19/2014
50%
50%

You think the holidays are uncomfortable for your family? Be glad you're not an SDN vendor. Things are going to get ugly in the SDN startup community around the end of the year, and it's only going to get worse next year.

I had breakfast with Pica8 Inc. Marketing Vice President Steve Garrison, at Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill, a classic 20th century diner in the heart of 21st century Palo Alto, Calif. We talked about the state of the SDN industry over eggs and coffee, and he shared his thoughts on why SDN is making life harder for startups. (See Pica8 Claims OpenFlow 1.4 First and Pica8 Adds Muscle to ABC – 'Anybody But Cisco'.)

The Technology
SDN has been unusual among emerging technologies, as big incumbent players were strong competitors from the outset, Garrison said. With most emerging technologies, startups have a two- or three-year window in which to develop before incumbents wake up and take notice. Not with SDN -- incumbents got into that game early on.

"There are so many incumbents in there with a story. It's not a great story, but it's a story," Garrison said. Busy IT managers, particularly in the enterprise, are likely to go with the safe, incumbent vendors rather than trying something new.

For startups, the "mudslinging" is against the incumbents, rather than each other, Garrison added.

And the healthy tech economy, with plenty of investment money to go around, has helped keep the startup culture fraternal and friendly.

Garrison uses a prizefighting metaphor to describe the state of the market.

"The big ring in Vegas doesn't have your two favorite fighters," he said. It's got the incumbents -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) -- fighting it out for the championship.

Sitting on the sidelines, in the front row -- "not the cheap seats" -- are the leading startups, as well as established vendors from other markets that are new to SDN: Arista Networks Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Garrison said.

These companies want a quick fight with a knockout blow so they know whose technology they have to be sure to work with. What they don't want is for things to continue as they are now, with Cisco and VMware sparring and even occasionally cooperating, dragging things out for a long time.


Find out more about key developments related to the systems and technologies deployed in data centers on Light Reading's data center infrastructure channel.


Interestingly, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is no longer in the front row. IBM has been kicked out and now sits in the cheap seats, Garrison said.

Life has been good for SDN startups for the past couple of years, with investor capital flowing. That's going to change soon, and we'll see some companies get acquired and others just go out of business.

It's going to be a gloomy Christmas and 2015 for many SDN startups.

The Restaurant
When we arranged breakfast, Garrison asked me if I was up for a classic diner. I have only two answers to that question: YEAH, and HELL YEAH. Growing up in the New York area, I spent the best wasted hours of my life in diners. Those kind of diners are hard to find in California.

But the Palo Alto Creamery fits the mold wonderfully. Founded in 1923, the diner changed hands in 1988 and has had the same owner -- and same interior design -- since. Garrison says he's been coming here since 1989, and it hasn't changed.

Strictly speaking, it's not a true classic diner because it wasn't built in a repurposed railroad car. Then again, neither were the diners where I camped in years past, so I'm not complaining.

Garrison had chicken-and-apple sausage with two eggs. I went for something called a "hash brown pie" -- hash browns with lots of peppers, onions and melted cheddar, served with two eggs. My breakfast wasn't great, but it was good. You can't go wrong with fried potatoes, peppers, onions, eggs and plenty of melted cheese.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
8/20/2014 | 3:21:05 AM
Re: Brought to you by Acura?
Sam, 

I believe a quiet place at a quiet time is much better when you are actually working during breakfast. The least you want is a crowded, noisy place where you can hardly hear what the person who is with you is saying, especially if Mitch was recording the conversation. 

-Susan 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
8/20/2014 | 3:12:28 AM
The breakfast series
Mitch,

I am loving the Breakfast with ... series. :)

The breakfast:

This is the second one I read and I believe I haven't missed any other in between. Super cool idea. The pics are nice, too. You should take pics of both dishes. :D 

The technology:

I found it surprising that IBM is no longer in the front row. It was sort of sad to read it now seats in the cheap sits. :( What happened there? 

-Susan

 
sam masud
50%
50%
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/19/2014 | 4:01:22 PM
Re: Brought to you by Acura?
Ya'll could have used more company--from the shot the place seems a bit empty to me. In any case, I would be happy to tag along next time.

On a more serious note, it may take a while for the SDN market to sort itself out because previously it would be one vendor raising a noise about its disruptive/revolutionary technolgy. Now we have couple dozen vendors shouting SDN, with some strong differentiation as to where they fit in the SDN taxonomy.

 
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/19/2014 | 1:38:03 PM
Brought to you by Acura?
This story reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld's mini-series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee... But it needs more cars. :) Nice to get a flavor of how startup founders/CEOs see their tech field growing.
More Blogs from Wagner’s Ring
President Obama opened the door to American business in Cuba, including telcos.
Transparency trumps one-size-fits-all regulations.
Shifting paradigms leave network operators scrambling.
The 25,000-person organization is... reorganizing! It's all part of a fundamental shift in industry technology.
It's hard to unite carriers and net neutrality advocates, but FCC head Tom Wheeler is reportedly working on a plan that'll do it.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive