I have always had an interest in the use of a single computing device that could be used in different ways. Cell Phones have become very powerful and are just as good as any low end laptop or desktop computer. Is it going backwards to have these solutions? Could someone just get a low cost Chromebook versus getting a laptop shell for your cell phone?
This company recently had a successful crowdfunding campaign called Superbook. The Phone Connects to the Laptop like shell via the MHL USB port. They also provide an application called Andromium to give a laptop style feel to the user interface of Android.
My preference would be something that uses a wireless connection (Wifi etc.) to the phone instead of a wired solution.
Why would someone get this over a low cost laptop? First of all it is very low cost at about $150 with all the add-ons available. Secondly, they leverage both Android and Windows which seems to have good foundations for building an outstanding user experience. The other important factor here is the availability of cloud computing to store documents, videos and Photos.
Here are two possible use cases for using this device:
1. Developing Country User - Someone in a developing country that can only afford a cell phone could use this device to get a full computing experience for editing documents and other tasks.
2. Corporate Professional - Most professionals get a laptop from work which is not wise to use for very personal things. This device could be used as a supplement with an existing smartphone to accomplish personal computing needs.
There are other use cases for this device but for now, lets start with those two and see how this plays out in time. There are several other options out there to convert a phone into a primary computing device. We will do some discussion on those in the next post on this topic.
AT&T is working with Colt Technology Services to provision network services using a programmatic API-to-API interface between separate software-defined networking (SDN) architectures.
The test occurred between two networks — one in the U.S. and one in Europe — and demonstrated that enterprises can provision on-demand, scalable network services across multiple locations and multiple networks, even networks from different service providers.
We have always being interested to find a solution that uses a single device for multiple computing needs. There have been some initiatives to utilize a smartphone as the engine for a Laptop or even desktop computer (Check out - Casetop). This can work fairly well but the phone screen is generally too small to do any meaningful reading on its own, so that brings in the need for a tablet. We are sure there are ways to design a tablet that you could plug the phone into for the expanded screen size and there have been some attempts. We will explore this topic more in the next post but in the mean time we are sharing an article about Android being a Computing platform of choice.
Check out - Android PC Article
Recently, I was looking to find a 2-in-1 hybrid tablet which can be used as a laptop. The tablet is required to read so that is a must but also need to be able to create content on the road so prefer an integrated keyboard like a notebook. There is a strong preference for Android based tablets and we did have a 2-in-1 before which is an ASUS tablet but the touch screen started to get flaky and not work most of the time, so the hunt begun.
It seems impossible to find a pure android 2-in-1 tablet/laptop. The only two brands that came up were ASUS and Sony and did not want to go with ASUS at this point based on past experience but then the Sony was priced way too high for this purpose. On the other hand, if we look outside the Android ecosystem, Apple tablets does have plenty after market keyboard options including ZAGG and Clamcase Pro.
Looking forward, it seems that windows is now dominating the natural 2-in-1 market with most of the major PC vendors selling windows 10 with Tablet and Laptop hybrids. Definitely seems that Google missed that opportunity by wasting time on the Chromebook when they could have opened the hybrid market especially for low to medium priced offerings with Android.
One good option with the windows tablet approach is that there are several emulator software that runs Android on a PC. This means you could have the best of both worlds and indeed it does work..
The moral of the story is that Google missed this opportunity and we are pretty sure there is a market out there for a well designed android tablet hybrid. At this point, you either go Apple Ipad with Clamcase style keyboard or stick with the many windows options reluctantly.
Enjoy the hunt!!!
We all know that greener energy is good for all. For example in lesser developed countries, many areas does not have reliable modern energy sources. The economics of wiring some of these areas are not very attractive and this means that newer forms of energy would be more suitable such as wind, solar and bio-fuels. A key challenge to many of these energy sources is the whole issue of storing the energy when its available especially in the case of solar.
One key potential in this area is the whole concept of Aluminum Air batteries which can last much longer than the traditional batteries per charge. In fact an experiment was done where they could drive for over 1000 miles on a single charge using a regular sized car. This is very encouraging and exciting to know..
An Israeli company Phinergy is one of several researching solutions in this space. Check out Phinergy now
P4 Is becoming a very useful language to change how network devices are programmed. Find more details on the specifications at p4.org. See the video for a demonstration on this new approach
Software Defined Networking (SDN) does have a place in the future but it may evolve in different ways especially with innovations like P4
There is definitely mixed feelings about where OpenFlow is today in terms of real world use cases and what could be done in the future to make it really useful.
Current Use Cases:
1. Hybird port - This seem to have become the most practical use case for enterprises without too much disruption. In this application, the switch data plane primarily operates independently for packet forwarding (traditional protocols). Openflow is then applied to edge ports to make important policy decisions especially around security or services chaining. Several vendors have advanced this approach including HP, Meru Networks and Brocade.
2. SDN WAN - This application uses Openflow to manage the overall WAN connectivity and apply policies to the overall movement of packets. This is very practical as the migration overhead is very low but the benefits are significant. Sonus Networks does have a good solution in this area.
3. Open Source - This has become a very good vehicle to advance the overall SDN agenda. Projects such as ONOS and Opendaylight are creating controllers and applications that could really help this approach longer term. On the switch side Open Networking Linux does have some traction while some vendors are implementing Open vSwitch on physical switches.
4. Overlay - Since there have been limitations with hardware implementations of SDN, several vendors have focused on vSwitch style solutions with the use of encapsulation protocols such as VxLAN and NVGRE to inter-operate with the physical switch network. A good example these solutions would be VMware NSX and Midokura Midonet.
How can we bring some of these solutions to a fully implementable physical network SDN solution?
Areas to Improve:
While the Open networking movement has created new models to deploy SDN and Openflow, there is still some work needed in terms of commercial deployments.
One key feature that is needed in both commercial switches and Controllers is the full implementation of Multiple Table pipelines. On the switch side, the Broadcom OF-DPA SDK is one means to implement things but there is still a lack of support in shipping commercial SDN controllers. Getting this done would solve the major scaling challenges with traditional switches.
The next challenge; how to ensure migration in the most challenging of situations? Examples would be Campus networks and Enterprise Data Centers. The larger vendors will not embrace all the attributes of Open SDN, so in that case existing networks will not have a clear path except for the case of software based overlay solutions. An important note is that Switches could also initiate and terminate overlay tunnels which means the network edge could be fully SDN while the network core remains as legacy.
Openflow and SDN has actually struggled to take hold based on many factors within the industry but there seems to be some good opportunities to move things forward in the next year or two.
SDN has been around for time now and we could there are about three basic areas that have emerged as part of the movement.
1. Network automation - While automation and scripting has been around for some time, there is a bigger interest to have automation capabilities and APIs built into the switch OS. Example of this would Arista EOS, Cisco OnePK and several others. Tools such as Puppet and Chef are becoming very mainstream in networking.
2. Control Plane Abstraction - This approach is predominantly built around Openflow for both Physical and Overlay networking. Obviously, the overlay portion is getting more attention these days. The real focus of approach is provide better network wide abstraction to allow better application level to network programming. This effort is mainly managed by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).
3. Open Switching - This could also be called Open Networking. The focus here is to separate the switch OS from the Hardware and is mainly advocated by the Open Compute Project started by Facebook. The real goal here is that any hardware vendor could package the switch with a choice of operating systems based on customer specific needs. This movement seems biased towards large cloud providers and not the typical enterprise.
Now that we have a view of the different flavors of Software Defined Networking (SDN); what are the business cases to deploy such technology?
1. Cost - The approach of open networking could reduce the cost for hardware in general as now the need for vendor lock-in would be reduced. The other side to cost reduction could be in the case of lowering operational tasks and churn.
2. Flexibility - This would come in several ways. In the case of Open OS approach, the customer can now deploy any application on the switch for network management. No longer dependent on a vendor to provide such. The other side of flexibility is the case with control plane abstraction, resources can be moved around in the network with minimal configuration effort.
3. Services - With all these tools at your disposal its now possible to add and deploy new services on the network without significant network changes. This is especially important for security and other functions.
4. Analytics - This has become a very important part of the network as it gives you the ability to see what has been happening in time down to the application level between end points.
There are probably other good cases but we do think these are some of the core benefits for deploying an SDN style network in the future.
What is your take on these business cases? Leave a comment
While the software defined networking (SDN) movement is still alive and trying to evolve the concept. There also the notion of Open Networking is especially being pushed by the Open Compute project. What this means in a nutshell or basic terms is that a customer can buy a bare metal switch with no native operating system (NOS) and then get the Operating system from another vendor. Of course this in itself is not SDN although many of these software companies does have some concept of SDN. Lets look at a few of these companies especially on the software side:
1. Big Switch - Their current solution is built around Openflow but they supply both the switch OS and the controller in order to build out a solution. They do allow you the choice of hardware from certified vendors. Switchlight is built on the Open Networking Linux (ONL) which is part of OCP.
2. Cumulus - This solution is built around the Linux OS which allows you the flexibility to develop applications that is tailored to your network needs.
3. Pluribus - The concept of a network fabric does allow ease of management and therefore allows more predictability for application deployment especially using the fabric API concept.
4. Pica8 - Openflow focused switch OS but does have a very mature traditional protocol suite.
Those are the main players today in the open networking arena as independent switch OS providers. The question that comes to mind is; How well does these different offerings play together? This is where standards could play a better role over time. The customer has choice in hardware but today it would be difficult to pick multiple switch OSes and get a clean infrastructure management story.
One good narrative is to standardize on a protocol like Openflow then settle on say Open Day light (ODL) as the main foundation for a controller (Vendors can deliver controllers leveraging the ODL base). Once that is in place, then vendors would focus on delivering applications as their main differentiators. This will probably not happen any time soon but there maybe a case to build out open standards to really enable choices.
The story of RIM is well known in the mobile phone world. They were the leaders and pretty much number one supplier of "smart phones" at that point in time. All that changed when another company unknown to the mobile phone world came along with a different approach to phone features and that company was Apple. Ironically, Apple is now the number 1 mobile phone company by revenue and RIM (Blackberry) is pretty much near the bottom.
What could RIM have done differently? Sometimes, its hard to beat another company coming along to disrupt the overall market. However, there are things that can be done to protect the business without suing all the competition. There are two basic principles that applies here which are (1) satisfy the core customer segments and (2) innovate.
One of the benefits that the iPhone brought along was that Apple had a large fan base to work with. In some ways, its almost like a cult and that gave them a core market to start with. Once that core market is satisfied, others will see the benefit and jump on board.
Again, how could RIM avoid the large subsequent loses that followed? Well, they started to build a Mobile phone OS that was suppose to be better than both Android and IOS. That was probably the first mistake in the process. Looking at the spec sheet, that OS was actually better than those others but their biggest challenge would be to recruit mobile app developers to embrace this new ecosystem. Following the rules of segmentation, RIM needed to ensure that their core business customers were being served and fill the gaps they had with the current market.
Here are some options that RIM could have explored back then.
1. Port their BBM platform to IOS and Android to allow communication across all platforms - Its seems that WhatsApp is now filling that void.
2. Offer phones running the Android OS. While one could argue that this would undermine the core OS that the company had, it goes a far way to satisfy Customer needs and that is the essence of business.
3. Add new hardware features to their existing core products. For example adding touch screen to the popular Blackberry classic. Many other features to consider for incremental improvement.
4. Double down on their security strengths especially for corporate users while adding the incremental features to give them flexibility.
There are many other iterations of what could be done but the bottom line is to speak with customers and really have a feel for what will sell. The iPhone is not perfect but it does the job for a core group and consequently most people. The lesson, we can all learn is that customer focus is very important while innovating around those customers. There is no point in trying to please everyone in the market but select a core set of customers and give them the thrill.
UK Chartered Engineer and Manager focused on Innovation in Networking technologies