by John Fruehe
The Open Networking User Group (ONUG) is a customer-centric group that meets twice a year to discuss the developments in open networking and also define use cases that they will share with vendors interested in marketing to this ever-growing segment of the population. The event features a mix of financial companies like Morgan Stanley MS -1.72% and Wells Fargo WFC -2.38%, along with retailers like The Gap GPS -0.31% and transportation giants like FedEx FDX +0.53%. While all of these companies come from different vertical businesses, they all share the same pressing need: to fix the networking problem. You can find a full report of the event sessions and the direct customer input in our paper.
The “problem”, in simple terms, is that everything is too mired in the past. Products from major vendors like Cisco Systems CSCO +0.37%, Hewlett Packard Enterprise HPE -2.49%, Juniper Networks JNPR -1.58% or Arista Networks don’t work well with products from startups like Silver Peak, Big Switch or Nuage. But, to be fair, the startups’ products don’t always work well with the big guys either, causing just a few IT bristles as the customers try to make all of these components work together. More interoperability is important as customer are demanding more open networking solutions to help make their lives easier and more efficient.
What I would consider the most interesting aspect of the two days of meetings was the number of times that customers said they are looking for translation or integration layers to pull all of these products together. For instance, over the past few years everyone has focused on SD-WAN, but now that SD-WANs are being deployed, customers are starting to ask the next logical question: how do I integrate multiple SD-WANs? Either through acquisitions (on the customer or the vendor front) or the need to tie suppliers into one’s systems, the need for multiple SD-WANs to communicate is now a real, concrete need. These are the types of second-level needs that are starting to arise, which is a clear indication that there is actual deployment happening in the market, not just theoretical discussions.
At ONUG, Moor Insights & Strategy is the official analyst of the event; it is our responsibility to attend every session (including the ones that are specifically customer-only) in order to capture all of the feedback. That feedback then makes it into the paper that is available for all to download. The spring meeting was out on the West Coast, but it will return to New York in the fall, so if you have not made plans already, now is a good time to pencil in October 24-26 on your calendar. And in the meantime, you can download our paper to get a flavor for not only what the meetings are like, but more importantly, what the customers are saying.
Disclosure: My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Silver Peak which were cited in this article. I do not hold any equity positions with any companies cited in this column.
This article was originally published in Forbes on May 26, 2016.