Before Richard Hyatt became the CTO and co-founder of Bluecat Networks alongside his brother Michael, he dismissed solving a problem related to Domain Name Servers (DNS) to his IT guy.
“It’s your job, you figure it out,” he recalls saying at the time. But that IT guy was challenged to solve the problem at hand trying to complete a zone transfer. Even the consultants couldn’t figure it out, because the service providers didn’t want to talk to each other. It was frustrating enough that Hyatt decided he would try and figure out this DNS problem after all.
“The more I read on DNS, the more I understood how the Internet really worked,” he says, delivering a seminar on network intelligence in Toronto. He wrote a Java tool to solve DNS problems and his friends recommended that he sell it to small to mid-sized businesses. From there Bluecat Networks got its start. More than a decade later, the Toronto-based firm has grown into a company that services business customers around the world and is allied with tech giants like IBM Corp., HP, Citrix, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, and Thales e-Security.
But the seed that begat Bluecat was more than just a Java tool. It was also a wager that the infrastructure of connected enterprises would fundamentally change. That the number of IP addresses per worker would rise exponentially. Now the Hyatt brothers are being proven right.
“Most kids who go to school today get 20 plus IP addresses,” he says. “The number is going up and up… 10 years later everyone is interested in IP address management (IPAM).”
Hyatt points to several technology trends that demonstrate why Bluecat’s next big network infrastructure play, IPAM, will be important to enterprises.
When something becomes so ubiquitous that it’s the easiest way to buy a cup of coffee, you know it’s a trend worth heeding. Starbucks has been accepting mobile payments for its coffee off of a mobile app for a couple of years in the U.S. now, and almost as long in Canada, Hyatt says. South of the border, it’s processing 4 million mobile payments per week.
“Anyone in the financial industry, you should be worried about this,” he says. “Kids today don’t like to carry cash and they’re not big on credit cards either.”
All those customers walking into Starbucks with smartphones represent an important network shift because they all have an assigned IP address. Plus they’re looking for connectivity at those coffee shops. Hyatt has a suggestion of where Starbucks could take its mobile strategy in the future thanks to those IP addresses: create identity profiles for each person that walks into the store and learn what their favourite purchase is. Have it ready on the counter without them even having to approach the barrista to order it.
With convenience like that, it’s no wonder Cisco Systems Inc. predicts that half of all Internet traffic will be generated by non-PC devices by 2017.
Automation of knowledge work
Technology’s rapid progression has given businesses new opportunities while creating new management challenges at the same time, Hyatt says. It used to be that companies ran servers that delivered applications to their employees. Then virtualization came along and created new efficiencies by allowing one hardware server to run multiple operating systems out of one container. It has now progressed to the point that many companies feel like they don’t even want to run the hardware at all, but let someone else deliver the application to them.
“Everything now is going to be moving towards a service-centric approach,” he says.
Automating services like this will free up IT workers to spend more time on innovative projects rather than keeping the lights on. Companies that continue to require cloud enablement, IPv6 transitioning, and BYOD management can no longer depend on manual processes to get these things done, because 40 per cent of outages impacting mission-critical servers are caused by people, Hyatt says. He points to a case in which Germany’s country-code top level domain server was taken down when someone put an extra dot in the address. Then Sweden made the same mistake two weeks later.
“You’re talking about a multi-billion dollar mistake… from a dot, one character,” Hyatt says. “Why? Because people shouldn’t be doing mundane tasks, when they do, they make mistakes.”
Bluecat’s IPAM automation services automate routine network requests without the requirement of human action, bypassing such problems, he adds.
Internet of things
If you want to get in on the next trillion-dollar market, turn your attention to the “Internet of Things” trend, Hyatt says. Facilitated by machine-to-machine (M2M) technology in which sensors are used to compile data from equipment and devices, many industries will soon have a huge amount data to wade through and look for new efficiencies.
Hyatt points to the airline industry as an example of where M2M is already hitting its stride. A single airplane can generate about one terabyte of data in a day, aimed at reducing any delays related to problems like fuel depletion, ice formation on wings, etc. Consider there are 7,000 U.S. commercial aircraft in the sky daily and that is a lot of data being generated.
“If you’re in the airline industry, it’s all about efficiency,” he says. “If you understand what you have, if you understand how you’re going to scale your enterprise from an IP perspective, then you’re going to win.”
If you thought the wave of mobile devices boosted the number of IP addresses per person, just wait until the M2M trend hits full stride, Hyatt says. It’ll be just too difficult to manually provision all of those new IP addresses.