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Today’s threat landscape has led organizations to defend their networks with numerous point solutions, most of which are complex and require significant attention to operations and ongoing maintenance. While large enterprises often have sufficient skilled resources to support the security infrastructure, small- to medium-sized businesses sometimes struggle in this area.

For the SMB market in particular, Network Security-as-a-Service is an attractive offering. It allows companies to get the very best security technology at an affordable price point while having someone else maintain the complex infrastructure.

This has given rise to a genre of service provider that builds its own network backbone in the cloud and embeds network security as an integral service. More and more players are starting to offer this kind of service. They generally start with a global network backbone and software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), add a full security stack, and connect to various cloud services from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. Customers connect their data centers, branches, end users, and cloud apps to this network, and away they go. It’s networking, plus network security, all in one place, and all managed as a service.

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Up until the advent of Software as a Service (SaaS), almost every business-critical application ran inside an enterprise’s own data center. The company had complete control over the performance of the application and could use technologies such as MPLS and techniques like WAN optimization to ensure that users across the enterprise always had a good experience with the application.

That’s no longer the case now that SaaS has become the de facto delivery model for core business applications today. In effect, the cloud is the new data center, and the internet is the new LAN. The most business-critical network between the end user and the application is not the corporate LAN but the public internet, which itself is a big collection of networks. When the internet is what sits between the end user and the SaaS application, the company depending on that application may no longer have good performance, reliability, and control.

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Cisco has added new cloud and virtual deployment options for customers looking to buy into its Tetration Analytics security system.

Cisco’s Tetration system gathers information from hardware and software sensors and analyzes it using big-data analytics and machine learning to offer IT managers a deeper understanding of their data center resources.

[ Don’t miss customer reviews of top remote access tools and see the most powerful IoT companies . | Get daily insights by signing up for Network World newsletters. ]

Tetration can improve enterprise security monitoring, simplify operational reliability, give customers a single tool to collect consistent security telemetry across the entire data center and analyze large volumes of data in real time.  

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While cloud computing holds out the promise of operational efficiency and cost optimization, most big companies will be operating hybrid computing environments for the foreseeable future. As a result, cloud technology for many companies adds yet another layer on top of an already complex computing infrastructure.

Seeing an opportunity to help IT departments work with developers and lines of business to optimize their hybrid computing environments, HPE is offering what it calls the first SaaS-based multicloud management application for on-premises and public clouds. Dubbed OneSphere, the software is being unveiled at the company's Discover Conference in Madrid today.

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In 5 software licensing challenges in the next generation network , I noted the important role that licensing models would have in the transition to the software defined network.  But there’s a deeper linkage between the growing demand for SaaS applications, cloud technology evolution and new software-defined Wide Area Network solutions.  What does that linkage mean for the licensing technologies that will drive monetization for the new software defined network?

Let’s start with the Q3 Forrester Wave report “Recurring Customer And Billing Management,” which speaks broadly to the accelerating trend of consumers and businesses using Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings via the cloud versus traditional on-premises software.  The author states that as this takes place, software vendors invariably migrate to subscription, or usage-based monetization models.  The report goes on to reference a Forrester 2017 SaaS adoption report that finds “in 2017, we expect software-as-a-service (SaaS) spend in particular to be more than 1.5 times that of license software.”

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Retail hasn’t lost its “cool.” [aaaayyyyy]

It’s just reinventing it. We know this but Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods sure gave everyone a wake-up call to “innovate or get left-in-the-dust.”

I know, you’re in charge of IT, not corporate strategy… but bear with me. This ends up being an IT thing.

As Forbes recently detailed, while Amazon unveiled its plans for Whole Foods (which includes decreased prices and the addition of industry-disrupting in-store technology), the market reacted. That same afternoon, stocks of several major brick-and-mortar retailers and grocery stores experienced significant drops in stock price.

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In the late 1990s and early 2000s when it became too difficult for large companies to manage their own WAN footprints, they adopted managed multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services. These offered a simple connection at every location and offloaded the complexities of building large-scale routed networks from enterprises to the service provider.

The advent of cloud computing, however, changed the dynamics of MPLS forever. Enterprises not only needed ubiquitous site-to-site connectivity, but also required better performance from the network to support Software as a Service-based business applications hosted in third-party data centers. In addition, video was becoming a standard mode of communication for corporate meeting and training applications, boosting the need for more bandwidth across the network.

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We all know the flagship metrics by which Software-as-a-Service businesses are gauged — Customer Acquisition Cost, Customer Lifetime Value, churn and the like. Understanding these metrics is key to measuring the health and value of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business, and if you’re the operator of a SaaS company, you should have a deep understanding of what each of these metrics means, how to measure them for your business and whether your metrics are healthy or indicate potential issues.

Every company is different, but a combination of common knowledge and some business-specific reasoning should give you a sense of whether your SaaS metrics jive with where you want your business to head.

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I was recently invited to participate on a panel at a major IT conference, where questions from the audience provided an interesting window into the top issues that networking professionals are dealing with as part of their organizations’ digital transformation.

Every enterprise, it seems, is planning a cloud strategy.  On closer inspection, most are already using the cloud in the form SaaS ERP and CRM applications like Salesforce, NetSuite, etc. These applications have performed well enough on top of traditional, legacy networks.

However, newer, more multi-dimensional cloud applications are forcing businesses to look for ways to make their networks more agile. One of these is Microsoft Office 365.  Microsoft is aggressively investing in their infrastructure to provide a superior experience for users. Nevertheless, the enterprise network, and more specifically the wide area network (WAN), remains one of the biggest impediments to providing an on-premise caliber quality of experience for cloud applications. Finding the most efficient exit to Office 365 and best performance server are usually the culprits.

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Steve Ballmer's latest hobby, USAfacts.org, cast a spotlight on the effectiveness of local, state and federal governments when it launched in April. Its easy-to-read dashboards allow ordinary citizens to compare government's performance of its core missions with spending at all levels.

In a roundabout way, that's made the former Microsoft CEO something of an evangelist for companies like SAP, which has released a new cloud service to help public sector organizations manage their spending.

USAfacts and OpenGov, a young company offering financial reporting, budgeting and publishing tools for the public sector, are stirring interest in ERP tools for government, and that's creating opportunities for SAP to get involved in the sales cycle, according to Darren Koch, SAP's chief product officer for small and medium-size businesses. 

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