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 Mike Fratto
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Profile of Mike Fratto

Former Network Computing Editor
Blog Posts: 287

Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics and executive editor for Secure Enterprise. He has spoken at several conferences including Interop, MISTI, the Internet Security Conference, as well as to local groups. He served as the chair for Interop's datacenter and storage tracks. He also teaches a network security graduate course at Syracuse University. Prior to Network Computing, Mike was an independent consultant.

Articles by Mike Fratto

Rackspace Open Cloud Takes on Amazon AWS

8/2/2012
The vendor rolls out three Open Cloud offerings--Cloud Servers, Control Panel and Cloud Databases--based on the OpenStack cloud project. Can Rackspace turn OpenStack into the de facto standard? What does Open Cloud have that AWS doesn't? Find out.

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Nine Dell Acquisitions: From EqualLogic to Quest, Compellent to Boomi

7/3/2012
In recent days, Dell representatives made no bones about promoting the company’s own products over products it resells. While the approach makes sense, it’s a departure for Dell, which has historically been quite adamant about maintaining its reseller relationships even on products that directly compete with its own. But Dell’s own product portfolio is now much richer than it once was. Here are nine important Dell acquisitions leading to today.

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Time To Say Goodbye To Static IPs

5/15/2012
Configuring static IP addresses on switches, routers, log servers, databases, management systems and other parts of the infrastructure is a common practice. It's also a bad one. Extending that error to virtual machines and applications is worse.

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Should Amazon Define Cloud Standards?

4/7/2012
Since Citrix gave Cloudstack to the Apache Software Foundation, there has been a lot of blogging, tweeting, and arguing about whether cloud computing software vendors should simply let Amazon AWS drive cloud computing standards. It's time for the stakeholders--enterprises, vendors, open source projects, and anyone else interested to start scoping, developing, and implementing standards that everyone can use.

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Amazon APIs Are Fine ... For Amazon

4/3/2012
If I didn't know better, I'd say that there are many in the cloud community who are happy to capitulate standards to Amazon. What's next? Letting Cisco define networking standards? Microsoft define OS, Web content and document standards? Apple define mobile platform standards? Or Oracle define SQL standards? Hitching the standards wagon to a vendor is a fundamental problem.

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How To Set Up A Certificate Authority In 10 Minutes

3/28/2012
Having a company owned certificate authority makes managing your network devices simpler and more secure. There is nothing inherently wrong with self-signed certs, but you can do better. You can build a CA issue your first certificate in about 10 minutes. Here is how to do it.

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Data Caps And Treating Employees Like Adults

3/27/2012
Carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are using data caps to manage the explosive growth in 3G/4G data consumption. Hey, kids--the 1990s called and wants its bandwidth management strategy back. As Lee Badman points out in "4G? No, It's More Like 4Gee!" the data rates available to wireless consumers are growing rapidly and our demand is keeping pace. When you have high demand and data caps, the chance of overages is very likely, and the last thing anyone wants is out-of-control telecom costs. C

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Security Professionals Get The Best Toys

3/22/2012
Do you think penetration testers--the people that companies hire to break into organizations and test their defenses--remain immersed in the pale glow of a stack of monitors listening to techno and mainlining over-caffeinated fruit drinks? I was visiting Steve Stasikounis, CEO of Secure Network Technologies and Dark Reading contributor, last week in his offices, and he couldn't help showing off his latest penetration testing and forensic investigation tools.

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Dell's SonicWall Acquisition Follows Cheap 'n Easy Blueprint

3/14/2012
Dell's Sonicwall acquisition makes sense. Dell's strategy is to sell low-cost desktops, laptops, and servers that are cheap and easy to use to everyone from small companies up to mid-size enterprises with the occasional large enterprise in the mix. Dell is going to do with security what they did with storage and are doing with networking. Remove complexity, bring important features to the surface, and make the resulting products available to the largely under served SMB/SME market.

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Brocade HyperEdge Promises To Ease LAN Management

3/6/2012
Brocade has announced a new initiative to simplify switch configuration and management. HyperEdge lets IT professionals designate a master switch that can manage all other switches on the LAN. Brocade HyperEdge is a response to Cisco, Juniper and other vendors that are offering simplified management. HyperEdge software creates a virtual stack of Brocade's ICX and FCX switches, allowing IT to manage tens or hundreds of devices as a single logical unit. HyperEdge should ease multidevice management

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Cisco And Deloitte Wrong: Good Practices More Impactful Than Vendor Choice

2/21/2012
Cisco is fighting back against the notion that a multivendor network can simplify operations and reduce TCO. The networking giant commissioned a report by Deloitte that finds equipment operation costs will increase over the life of a network that uses equipment from disparate vendors. The fact is, one vendor versus multiple vendors is the wrong fight. Sound management practices and smart production selection will have a bigger impact on your IT costs than the number of vendors you use.

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Why I Like Juniper's QFabric (And A Mea Culpa)

2/1/2012
While I was visiting Juniper in early December, I got a chance to sit down with the QFabric folks to discuss some of issues with QFabric and what I saw as a proprietary—with all the badness that word implies—product set in search of a reason. While QFabric is proprietary because of how the components are interconnected, I came away with the impression that the overall design and capacity looks extremely powerful. I think the upsides of the QFabric product set far outweigh the downsid

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IBM And NEC Leverage OpenFlow For High-Performance Networking

1/23/2012
IBM and NEC are collaborating on high-performance OpenFlow deployments. OpenFlow, developed at Stanford University, has enjoyed acceptance in university networks because an OpenFlow network can run alongside the campus production network without impacting it. In 2011, OpenFlow broke out of its education niche into the mainstream with announcements from Big Switch, Fulcrum and NEC. IBM's and NEC's announcement is a proof point that OpenFlow has a role in enterprise IT and can be used in high-perf

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Microsoft System Center 2012 Revealed

1/19/2012
Microsoft's System Center 2012, which we discussed in Microsoft's System Center 2012: Building A Private Cloud, is the latest attempt by a big vendor to bring private cloud to the masses. While there are many improvements to System Center, building a private cloud using anyone's software is far from easy. At Microsoft's private cloud reviewers' workshop, we got a peek at the sausage factory. There are a lot of components to configure, but Microsoft has done a good job of streamlining many of the

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Microsoft's System Center 2012: Building A Private Cloud

1/17/2012
Microsoft is beefing up its private cloud offering by enhancing existing modules in System Center 2012, adding an application controller that disconnects apps from the OS, an orchestration module that automates application and virtual machine deployment, and unified management tasks. Microsoft is also reducing System Center 2012's licensing options from 113 different combinations to two editions--a Standard edition and a Data Center edition. This is Microsoft's big move into private cloud, which

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Transferring DNS Registrars Not A Problem

12/29/2011
It's Dec. 29, and I have started to transfer personal DNS domains from GoDaddy. The company's position on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)—its reversal notwithstanding—was the nudge that pushed me over the edge. Frankly, GoDaddy has been acting poorly during the last few years, and I decided to move my domains elsewhere. So far, the transfers have gone well, with nary a hiccup.

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2011 Was An Awesome Year For Networking

12/27/2011
After about eight or nine years of networking innovation stagnation, the number of new innovations starting in 2010 and exploding in 2011 is astounding. Speed and feeds are increasing, but the exciting work in 2011 occurred in new technologies to support initiatives such as cloud computing, storage and data convergence, as well as migrating to IPv6. Here are the highlights.

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Networking APIs Should Be A Critical Feature

12/16/2011
When you are looking at your next network equipment refresh, be sure to take a long, deep, look at the APIs the vendors are exporting and importing. Integration features should be near the top of your must-have feature list.

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Fat Apps Are Where It's At

11/23/2011
Virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, is seeing something of a revival lately due to the increased penetration of mobile tablets. Why lug a laptop around that has a short battery life and takes forever to load when you can use a lighter, more responsive tablet? If you can get your desktop on your tablet, all the better, right? No. Not at all. More over, server-based desktop applications, such as those served from the likes of Citrix XenApp and VMware ThinApp, or just the UI components. We need

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Can Dell Do For Networking What It Did For Storage?

11/18/2011
Dell is focused and while it isn't considered by many to be a solutions provider--many consider Dell to be a box pusher--it plans on changing perception. As Fritz Nelson points out in discussing Dell's earnings, the company did a remarkable job of acquiring storage companies that fit with its overall vision, investing in the product lines, doubling or tripling the head count in some cases, and setting off on an integration path that continues today. However, Dell has a difficult road ahead if it

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New And Notable On Network Computing

11/16/2011
It's been a busy year for our IT staff. We've moved to a new platform that is more stable and faster. We have a new commenting system in place, and we are adding more kinds of content. Network Computing Pro, once a subscription service, is now free (registration required). And we'll have more changes in the coming months. All of these changes have been part of a long process, but one that lets us bring you more and better news, views and actionable information. Now I'd like to hear from you. Wha

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Dell Is Focused

11/15/2011
Last week, some colleagues and I had a chance to spend the day at Dell's headquarters in Austin, Texas. It was seven hours of meetings, getting a dump on Dell's various lines of business, and was capped off with a meeting with the man himself, Michael Dell. It was an informative day, meeting with folks who run the storage, server, networking, and channel divisions of the company. I came away with one overriding thought: Here's a company that is focused.

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A Brief Introduction To OpenFlow

11/8/2011
OpenFlow is a specification now managed by the Open Networking Foundation, which defines the functions and protocols used to centrally manage switches via a centralized controller.

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BlueStacks Brings Android Apps To Windows

10/12/2011
Bluestacks is a virtualization layer that runs on Windows PCs and allows users to run Android apps. Rather than run a full Android emulator, including the UI, Bluestacks provides enough of the Android OS to run most apps as if they were native Windows apps.

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Juniper Is 'Simply Connected'

10/3/2011
Juniper has announced a new go-to market strategy for the enterprise LAN called Simply Connected. The strategy has two connotations, according to Juniper: Users simply want to connect to the network easily and quickly, and IT wants easy-to-manage networking extending from the user to the core.

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Interop Video Previews

9/30/2011
Interop New York 2011 is upon us. Starting Oct. 3 and running through Oct. 7, UBM's Interop show sill be taking place at the Javits Center. It going to be a full week, starting with pre-conference days on virtualization, cloud computing and CIO boot camp. Wednesday through Friday, the conference kicks off with three full days of in-depth sessions and panels covering virtually every aspect of IT. The expo hall will be open Wednesday and Thursday so you can meet with vendors and see the latest gea

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Proprietary Networking Kills Opportunity

9/22/2011
When we ask IT about proprietary vs. standards-based purchases, the majority of responses indicate that standards are nearly always preferred. So why are the network fabrics proprietary? There is a disconnect between what we are hearing from IT and what vendors are offering, and it seems to me that vendors are collectively shooting themselves in the foot.

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Certificate Authority Compromises Are Global In Reach

9/9/2011
There has already been a lot written about the compromise at DigiNotar, GlobalSign and Comodo. One day we will look at the summer of 2011 as the time when the PKI collapsed. That's not hyperbole. The problems with certificate authorities and the inherent weakness they present have been known for years--a fact we alluded to as far back as 1997. Browsers accept certificates as trusted in that they have the signing CA certificate in their local browser store. Browsers do not check that a particular

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Assessment: Brocade Network Subscription

8/31/2011
Network Subscription is an acquisition model that lets companies pay for network ports when they are used. As monthly demand changes, the port count and costs rise and fall. This is a good model for companies with large differences between normal and peak usage, though subscribers pay more over time compared with a capital purchase. It is not a fit for companies with small variations in demand. Network Subscription doesn't include Fibre Channel ports. .

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Brocade Announces Network Subscription And VDX Switches At VMworld

8/30/2011
Brocade’s Network Subscription, new switches and Network Advisor enhancements are all aimed at establishing Brocade as a data and storage player in cloud infrastructure. Network Subscription brings flexible, on-demand costs to networking—as flexible as installing hardware can be—where enterprises only pay for the ports they need when they need them. The new VDX switches offer more options for Brocade's Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS), while Network Advisor catches up with compe

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VMware Focuses On Cloud Services

8/29/2011
While VMware is best known for virtualization technologies, the company is making a significant push into cloud services by enabling service providers to run VMware products and seamlessly integrate with enterprise installations. It’s a fairly targeted move that counters other initiatives like OpenStack, which is an open source alternative being developed for public and cloud providers.

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Oracle's VM 3.0 Plays Catch-Up

8/25/2011
Oracle's enhancements to its hypervisor, VM 3.0, are significant for current and potential Oracle VM customers but aren't likely to woo those using other hypervisors. The new features address automated VM management, centralized management and integration features. Oracle's VM hypervisor doesn't have the market penetration that VMware's vSphere does, but by packaging virtual machine images with Oracle applications, the company offers a relatively pain-free way to step into Oracle's application s

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IPv6 Is Coming. Time To Get Prepared

8/24/2011
IPv6 is coming. Sooner or later, you will be deploying IPv6 on your network, data center, or co-lo servers. It may be a few years off--longer if your ISP has a well thought out transition strategy in place--but IPv6 is different enough that you can learn the ins and outs on a smaller network before you have to deploy it widely. If you are looking for resources, start there. If you have a good resource you want to share, send me an email and I will check it out.

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Raining On Cloud Bursting's Parade

8/9/2011
Cloud bursting--the ability to dynamically move processing temporarily to a cloud provider in response to some excess demand--sounds like such a great idea. If successful, you can continue to handle the excess burst without having to acquire new hardware, software and licenses, and, equally important, you can do it right now. But before you start popping champagne corks and taking a celebratory lap, you will likely have some significant hurdles to get over.

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FCoE: Standards Don't Matter; Vendor Choice Does

7/27/2011
During the last year or so, some Fibre Channel over Ethernet experts have been arguing nuances of FCoE and which protocols you need or don’t need. FCoE interswitch interoperability? I will be old(er) and gray(er) before that happens in any meaningful way. While these are interesting discussions—if you go for that sort of thing—ultimately, they won’t impact your purchasing decisions. You are going to use whatever your SAN vendor tells you to use.

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Dell Acquires Force10, Solidifies Data Center Story

7/20/2011
Rumors about which networking company Dell was going to acquire have been silenced today with the announcement of its intent to acquire Force10. What Dell gets from Force10 is an equipment vendor that specializes in high-performance computing and has a clearly defined strategy to support cloud computing, orchestration and automation.

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Follow Amazon Example In User Account Management

6/17/2011
Organizations that manage sensitive customer information have largely done their users a disservice by using links in emails. While they are trying to be helpful by providing links, the critical side effect is that users get used to clicking on them, and that is one way of facilitating phishing.

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Vint Cerf's Internet Safety

6/14/2011
At the Internet Society INET conference, there was wide-ranging discussion on a variety of topics, from Net neutrality to privacy. A highlight was Vint Cerf's keynote in the afternoon. He focused on the importance of safety mechanisms for those using the Internet--safety in terms of being protected from abusive behavior and safety in terms of the ability to speak freely and, where and when needed, remain anonymous. These are big issues in the international theater.

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Six Reasons It's Blame IPv6 Day

6/8/2011
As far as I am concerned, it's not World IPv6 Day. It's Blame IPv6 Day. This is a good opportunity to take any new technology (OK, IPv6 is not new, but it might as well be) and use it as the whipping boy it deserves to be. It's IPv6's turn. So, lets get started!

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Single Point Of Failure: The Internet

5/31/2011
No matter how well you architect for redundancy and availability, there will certainly be single points of failure (SPOF) that you can't account for. The SPOF, in all of its forms, can make application mobility via VDI, cloud services, and netbooks like Google's Chromebook less attractive computing options when compared to fat clients, fat servers, and boring but reliable storage. While services can fail, let's not forget that the most frequent SPOF we deal with is the access networks at the Int

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Interop Premieres New Technology; Everyone Wins

5/17/2011
One of the coolest displays I saw at Interop was not in Start-up City nor in the Czech Republic zone. It wasn't the Lamborghini that Securent rolled onto the floor, nor was it the Barracuda Bus. It was the fiber backplane that HP brought out from its R&D facility and had running as a proof of concept, as well as the number of vendors that had products--nearly all proof of concepts--in the InteropNet Openflow lab. Staying awake is hard after sitting through the sixth top-of-rack switch of the day

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What To See At The Interop Exhibit Hall

5/10/2011
Yesterday I had a chance to walk the Interop show floor before it opened. Controlled chaos is a good word for it. It's hard to imagine that all the exhibitors and show staff get the exhibit hall ready in a little more than 24 hours. Forklifts are flitting around, carrying everything from equipment racks to rolls of carpet. Cherry pickers are rolling through the aisles hanging signage. Vendor system engineers are setting up booths, racking equipment and preparing demonstrations for the show. You

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We Are IPv6 Ready!

5/3/2011
I am happy to say that Network Computing is now IPv6 ready. That's a pretty neat leap for us, and when I get around to setting up a tunnel broker from my home office, I will be enjoying some IPv6 goodness. The neat thing about being IPv6 ready is that whether you are coming from an IPv4 or an IPv6 network (and, frankly, you won't know or care which), you will still get to the same place. Making Network Computing available via IPv6 means you will get to us no matter where you are. Congrats to our

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The Future Of Networking On Display At Interop

4/29/2011
Saying there is a lot of change in networking is like saying the sun is hot. Virtually every aspect of networking in the LAN and the WAN is developing new core protocols and technologies to meet growing demand. Networking isn't just about bigger, faster, denser. The changes are about smarter networking that discovers optimal paths from point to point, ensuring zero packet loss. The changes are being driven by (and are driving) server, storage and network virtualization. And the changes are about

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Amazon's Cloud May Seem Magical, But It Isn't

4/22/2011
By now you have heard that Amazon Web Services had a massive disruption yesterday, affecting Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) instances in the company's northern Virginia data center. The disruption was/is long-lived (Amazon's dashboard is still showing problems), and certainly blew any claims for an annual uptime of 99.9 percent, which is 8.76 hours downtime per year. In fact, it likely blew 99.8 percent uptime, which is 17.52 hours of downtime. While 99.8 percent sounds good, the fact that some s

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Putting Controller-Based Networks' Security Risk In Context

4/12/2011
OpenFlow is starting to gain some buzz in the industry, with a demonstration at the upcoming Interop show in Las Vegas and vendors starting to adopt the protocol. However, as others begin to learn about OpenFlow and controller-based networking, complaints about single points of failure and single targets of attack get fired off in an almost knee-jerk reaction. Let's stop and take a breath. Single points of failure and single points of attack are common issues in networking and, frankly, have bee

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InteropNet's IPv6 Plans

4/8/2011
One of the more interesting aspects of attending Interop is seeing the demonstrations that the InteropNet team is putting on. At the upcoming show, the InteropNet is running several IPv6 capable networks that are supporting both exhibitors and attendees. This marks the first show since Interop returned its Class A address space to ARIN in 2010. If you are at Interop, check out the various InteropNet locations offering IPv6. I caught up with some of the InteropNet team by phone to talk about IPv6

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Tenuous Chains Of Trust In Digital Certificates

4/6/2011
Hot on the heels of RSA suffering an attack of unknown origin and resulting in a loss of unknown data with an unknown impact, news that certificate authority Comodo issued nine fraudulent certificates that browser vendors and OS vendors have had to issue a patch for highlights the fragility of the security systems that protect your data in transit across the Internet. In Comodo's case, neither the root CA nor any of Comodo's systems were compromised, according to its own incident report. Rather,

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Dear RSA, Trust Is Earned Every Day--You're Not Earning It Today

3/22/2011
Trust is earned every day, and in information security, your customers' trust is easy to lose and hard to earn back. RSA had a breach with unknown ramifications. RSA Chairman Art Coviello's cryptic notice, and RSA's relative silence since then, is not helping customers feel confident in SecurID as a product or RSA as a company. Just look at what's happening on Twitter for gems like this: "Dear #RSA, open your pants and show us the problem, or we will never trust you again."

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OpenFlow Coming To InteropNet Labs

3/21/2011
One of the most interesting aspects of Interop is the Interop Labs area on the show floor, which highlights new and emerging technologies. In years past these technologies have included VPNs, network access control systems and various Trusted Computing Group projects. This year, InteropNet's OpenFlow Lab is going to showcase OpenFlow, with live demonstrations of the OpenFlow protocol. Openflow may well become an important networking protocol that will have significant impact on how you can depl

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Standardizing Cloud APIs Is Useless

3/9/2011
In a session on open source in the cloud at the Cloud Connect show in Santa Clara, Calif., Randy Bias of Cloudscaling dropped a bombshell of a statement: "API's don't matter." What Bias was really asking was, "What role do standards play in cloud computing?" With a wry smirk, Bias went on to explain that mimicking Amazon's APIs, for example, is useless if providers don't have the ability to deliver all of the features and functions of Amazon's service, including the things you don't see like rel

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