Is Technology Just a Means to an End?

Technology, to a PR person, is often a means to an end.  I’m such a PR person even though I have been in the technology industry for 20 years now. It was earlier this month when the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise technologies team I work with was recognized for achievement with its third Best of Interop Finalist award in the past five years, that it occurred to me how wrong I was about technology as just a means to an end.  Technology is and continues to be the future.

In my career in tech, I’ve seen some hurry up and wait things happen (ATM, unified communications, SDN, etc.). But, it’s these innovative concepts that either evolve to become reality or have pushed another innovative movement which improves upon what was done previously, becoming the finishing piece to another puzzle.       

For 29 years, IT professionals and technology providers have gathered at Interop to push infrastructure technology to new heights. Indeed, this year is no different. The example I’m close to actually addresses a real need that many IT departments face – how to simplify and automate the deployment and the daily operation of the network. The new Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Intelligent Fabric (iFab) technology does this, and as a Best of Interop Finalist in Networking, it promises to be a game changer in the world of networking.

Automation = less $, more time

The Intelligent Fabric technology uses automation to reduce IT costs associated with deployment and moves/adds/changes, while eliminating error-prone manual steps. We had a senior network engineer at ALE recently give the iFab a test. He set up a typical three-node network.  It took him approximately 45-60 minutes to complete the configuration. Then, using our OmniSwitch 6900-Q32 switches with Intelligent Fabric, he set up an identical three-node network – plugged in cables, went to get a coffee – and 10 minutes later the network was configured and running. Like magic! It sounds easy enough for this PR person to set up.

You can see inside tunnels and packets?

But the REALLY cool element of this new Intelligent Fabric that wowed me – and possibly the judges -- was the ability to work with VXLAN overlay technology. To a layperson, it’s just another acronym. What my product specialist and engineers explained was that a VXLAN technology creates tunnels to interconnect machines and applications across a network or data center. Typically the network can’t see what’s inside the tunnel or in the packets, but iFab can! IT can now see not only what type of application is running, BUT also apply quality of service, prioritization, and security for that app. THIS is unique! This has the ability to change the game of networking by eliminating the gap with the overlay world, and industry analysts seem to agree.

So to my original point, though technology may be a means to an end, it should not be taken for granted. It can contribute to tangible business outcomes – positive results you can see and measure - just as this new iFab technology ultimately delivers faster installations, network upgrades, improved uptime, and a better bottom line. Sounds like a bright future ahead for all of us.




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