|By Michael Bushong||
|January 28, 2014 11:00 AM EST||
We are a few short days away from the biggest spectacle in sports – the Super Bowl. It is impossible to avoid talk this week of Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos, the Seattle Seahawks, and the NFL in general. But does the NFL have anything to teach tech industries?
The NFL is a massively successful franchise by almost any measure. Despite a rash of recent scandals including a pay-for-injury bounty program and a major law suit and settlement tied to concussions, the league continues to grow its fan base – both in the US and abroad – while raking in record numbers of viewers and revenue. At the heart of the NFL’s resilience when it comes to scandal and its seemingly bottomless pit of revenues is an uncanny to reinvent itself.
In fact, it is the NFL’s overall position on its own evolution that has secured its place at the top of the entertainment pantheon.
Instant Replay in the NFL
The NFL adopted instant replay in 1986 after a fairly healthy debate. Detractors would point out that part of the history of the NFL was that the game was officiated by humans, complete with their flaws. Games had been decided in the past by a team of officials who had to get it right in the moment, and changing that would somehow alter the NFL’s traditions. But it took only a few high-profile officiating mishaps played back on national television to sway sentiment, and in 1986, by a vote of 23 to 4 (with one abstaining), the NFL ushered instant replay into the league.
But instant replay’s first stint in the NFL lasted only until 1992. In its first incarnation, instant replay ranged from effective to wildly unpopular. The rules for which plays could be reviewed was not always clear. The process was slow and at times awkward, making games take too long. And the original incarnation of instant replay allowed officials to review their own calls, which led to somewhat maddening outcomes.
Instant replay went dark until making its triumphant return in 1999. With a few process tweaks (coaches being able to challenge specific calls) and the advance of technology (HD and more angles), the system is clearly here to stay.
But what is so important about how the NFL rolled out instant replay? And how does this apply to networking?
Instant Replay and Networking
First, it is worth noting that instant replay was not a unanimous choice. There were detractors – members of the Old Guard who thought that the new way of doing business was too big a departure from the past. In networking, we face much of the same. There are countless people who fight change at every step because it is not consistent with the old way of doing things. They cling to their technological religion while the rest of the world moves forward. It’s not that their experiences are not not relevant or even not important, but their inability to work alongside the disruptors means that those experiences are kept private, forcing the New Guard to stumble over many of the same obstacles. This is not good for anyone.
Second, we should all realize that instant replay was tried and it failed. But despite the failure, the NFL was able to bring it back to the great benefit of the game. As the SDN revolution wages on, there are people who point to the past. They say clever things like “All that is old is new again” or they refer derisively to past attempts the industry has made to solve some of the same problems being addressed by SDN today.
But if ideas were permanently shelved because of setback or failure, where would we be? Using the past as a compass for the future is helpful; clinging to the past and using it to justify a refusal to move forward is destructive.
And finally, the NFL has shown a remarkable ability to iterate on its ideas. Instant replay was successful in its second run because of the changes the NFL made. New technology will not be invented with perfect foresight. The initial ideas might not even be as important as the iterative adjustments. We need to embrace failure and use it to adapt and overcome. By not being religious about its history, the NFL has successfully evolved. The question for networking specialists everywhere is to what extent our own industry is capable of setting aside its sacred cows.
Rushing, West Coast Offense, Hurry-Up Offense
Football is remarkable in how much it changes over time. Decades ago, offense was all about having a good running back. The passing game was an afterthought, used to lure defenders away from the line of scrimmage. Those days yielded to a more pass-happy time featuring the San Diego Chargers’ Air Coryell offense and the Houston Oilers Run and Shoot. Those teams handed the offensive mantle over to Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense. Then we saw New Orleans’ more vertical passing attack. And now we have the whole hurry-up offense.
It almost doesn’t matter what is different between these systems. That so many systems have been able to thrive is what is amazing. The NFL, despite its traditions, seems most committed to reinventing itself. And for every one of these offensive systems, there are a dozen others that failed to catch on.
Evolution and Networking
The NFL has figured out that they are a league that thrives on new ideas. Whether its the NFL as a whole, or individual teams and players, the entire league is committed to trying new things. That commitment has created a hyper-fertile breeding ground for new ideas. It is no surprise that the league has managed to reinvent itself every few years, much to the delight of its legions of fans.
Networking is going through an interesting time. This period of 3-4 years might very well be looked on as a Golden Era for networking. The amount of new ideas that are being tested in the marketplace right now is amazing. SDN, NFV, DevOps, Photonic Switching, Sensor Networking, Network Virtualization… and the list goes on. But these new ideas came on the heels of what really were the Dark Ages. After the Dot.com bust, the networking world went dark. Sure, there were new knobs and doodads that were useful for folks, but as an industry, the innovation was pretty incremental.
So when this Golden Era of Networking is over, which networking industry will we have? Will we return to the Dark Ages, or will we end up in another Period of Enlightenment? If the NFL is any indication of what continuous innovation looks like, it would seem the better answer is to embrace the new ideas. But are we culturally prepared to continue embracing disruption? Are we collectively unafraid of failure enough that this type of future suits us? If you ask me, we have to be.
Defense Wins Championships
There is an old saw that goes “Defense wins championships.” At this time of year, it gets trotted out as one of those universal truths. But here’s the reality: evolution wins championships. In the NFL, offenses and defenses win about the same amount (a slight nod to defenses, but only by a hair). It’s a team’s ability to evolve over the years – and even during the game – that dictates success.
Our industry is no different. We have our own Old Guard that talks about past technologies with the kind of reverence that you see when historians put on their smoking jackets and grab their pipes. But our industry is defined by its future more than its past. There is a lot to learn from our history, but if we let those teachings get in the way of our future, we will be no better off than we are now.
So when you are grabbing a beer or diving into that 7-layer dip at whatever Super Bowl party you end up at, talk about the role of innovation and how it reigns supreme over those dusty old defenses.
[Today's fun fact: Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down, hence the expression "To get fired." I wonder where the term "lay off" came from then?]
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
Jul. 7, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,574
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Jul. 7, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,631
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
Jul. 7, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 644
"We have seen the evolution of WebRTC right from the starting point to what it has become today, that people are using in real applications," noted Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President and Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy and Ecosystem at GENBAND, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 7, 2015 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 998
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than
Jul. 7, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,280
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Jul. 7, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,272
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Jul. 7, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,961
"In the IoT space we are helping customers, mostly enterprises and industry verticals where time-to-value is critical, and we help them with the ability to do faster insights and actions using our platform so they can transform their business operations," explained Venkat Eswara, VP of Marketing at Vitria, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Jul. 7, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 966
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
Jul. 7, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,976
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Jul. 7, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,821
To many people, IoT is a buzzword whose value is not understood. Many people think IoT is all about wearables and home automation. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed some incredible game-changing use cases and how they are transforming industries like agriculture, manufacturing, health care, and smart cities. He will discuss cool technologies like smart dust, robotics, smart labels, and much more. Prepare to be blown away with a glimpse of the future.
Jul. 7, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,186
Connected things, systems and people can provide information to other things, systems and people and initiate actions for each other that result in new service possibilities. By taking a look at the impact of Internet of Things when it transitions to a highly connected services marketplace we can understand how connecting the right “things” and leveraging the right partners can provide enormous impact to your business’ growth and success. In her general session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, discussed how this exciting emergence of layers of...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,808
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Jul. 7, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,043
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is corr...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,068
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,761
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,030
SYS-CON Events announced today that kintone has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. kintone promotes cloud-based workgroup productivity, transparency and profitability with a seamless collaboration space, build your own business application (BYOA) platform, and workflow automation system.
Jul. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,281
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fillin...
Jul. 7, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,837
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 7, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,018
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company helps mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to deploy new levels of reliable and cost-effective computing and high availability solutions, leveraging the cloud and the benefits of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS...
Jul. 7, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,102