Pros and Cons of Using a Reseller for Networking Equipment


There are various advantages  for using a reseller when purchasing networking equipment.  There are also benefits to buying direct from the Manufacturer. Below we detail those trade-offs with some intelligent introspection.

 

Reseller: Logistics, the reseller holds local stock, and takes care of taxes, tariffs, currency fluctuation in your region.

Within the US and Canada  and other common trading partners, there may be no logistical advantage for ordering from a reseller over  a direct purchase; however if you are in a remote country where most products must be imported it is almost  a necessity. Some countries have less than above-board customs,  and taxation rules, dare I say bribes. In these cases,  a  local reseller who specializes in local corruption etiquette is a necessity .

Reseller: Local Support, easy to reach technical support in your time zone, training, returns, and trials.

A well-trained reseller who  exclusively  handles the product you are purchasing is essentially an extension of the Manufacturer. Think of Automobiles. This complex and expensive product to support, could not exist without a large dealer network. In the world of Networking equipment , some things are becoming  more of a  commodity , routers  ,firewalls, and thus, diminishing the need for a reseller. Buying through a channel and the associated mark up may not be worth the added value ,especially if the manufacturer  offers good direct support , and an overnight replacement policy.

Reseller: Pre Sale Product Knowledge, a good reseller will educate and explain options for the products they represent.

The potential downside here is that often the Reseller is motivated by the Equipment they give them better OEM incentives to sell, hence if they are selling more than one product line, they may actually downplay one over the other.

Reseller: Representation to the manufacturer , for new features, re-calls

The reseller often times can carry clout to represent you back to the Manufacturer since they represent many sales , they can be very  beneficial if you have a problem that needs to be resolved by the manufacturer .

Reseller:  Requirements for competitive bid, or government contract dictating approved venders

Companies that provide this type service are generally puppets set up by a government agency , often out of political need to create jobs.  If you work for a government agency that forces you to buy through an approved reseller , you are likely well aware of the game.

Reseller and Manufacturer: Personal Relationships

Having  a trusting relationship with the person you purchase equipment from is the tried and true way of doing business in many industries, and often these relationships trump all other factors.  I personally try not buy based on relationships because I feel it is a disservice to my employer, hence I keep them at arm’s length.

Manufacturer: Price Price Price

Buying direct from the Manufacturer should give a major price break. Any product purchased through a reseller channel is going to add a minimum 35 percent to the direct price and often even double or even  triple, depending upon the product and number of hops in the channel. OEMs and channels partners have had a love hate relationship since perhaps biblical times. As mentioned above, personal relationships are the key to most sales in many industries,  and for this  reason  manufacturers must rely on a local sales partner. On top of that, there are also agreements that manufactures sign so as not to undercut the local reseller price, hence the end customer has no choice but to purchase through a reseller. For many traditional products. However new companies  coming on the market are often going direct to get a pricing advantage, after you talk to your reseller for a product  be sure and do some research on your own and look for similar products sold direct, the price difference could be significant.

Manufacturer:Support

Why is it that Cisco’s best customers  are provided with direct engineering support?  The answer is simple, because it is better.  If you can get direct support take it.  I’ll leave it at that.

For Profit Wired Home Internet, is it Coming to an End?


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Low resolution ghost mode is where your video quality drops down to save bandwidth.  The resulting effect transforms once proud basketball players into a slurry of mush, as their video molecules are systematically destroyed.”

Last night, I was trying to watch a basketball game on my Hulu through my Business class Comcast line, which promises 20 meg down and 4 meg up.  Not only was my Hulu feed breaking up periodically, but my Drop Cam was going up and down constantly, and sending me emails that it was offline.  I checked my bandwidth through my NetEqualizer to find that I was not even pulling 6 megabits, less than 1/3 my contracted rate.   When  Hulu was not locking up completely, it was dropping down into low resolution ghost mode.  I have documented my Comcast findings before through various experiments. Clearly, Comcast has upstream congestion issues or is shaping selected video traffic. Either way I am at their mercy when trying to watch video on the Internet.

What options does one have for alternative Internet service in the Denver Metro area, or for that matter other Metro Areas around the country?

Option #1 Get Closer to the Source

Beam Internet directly via Microwave Link from a hot building. A friend of mine runs an ISP that does essentially this.  He buys large bulk bandwidth and from a point of presence rooftop downtown, he can beam internet via  point-to-point circuit, directly to your residence or building.  I called him out of desperation but I am not in line of sight for any of his services.

Option #2  Century Link

They constantly run commercials touting they are better than Comcast. I call them perhaps once a year or so, only to find out that my neighborhood is not wired for their high speed service.

Option #3  Use my unlimited T-Mobile as a Hot Spot 

Believe it or not, I actually did this for a while,  and the video service was a bit better than Comcast. The problem with this solution is that T-Mobile will drop your speeds down once you have consumed 24 Gigabytes in a month, and it will become useless for anything other than email.    (24 Gigabytes would be approximately 4 full length movies).

Option #4 Move

The city just to the North of me , Longmont, put in it’s own fiber ring to the curb. Early reports are that it works great, and that the residents love it. Since it is essentially a public utility,  there are no shaping games destroying your Hulu.  If you contract for 20 megabits, you get 20 megabits. And now the city of Boulder is considering doing the same.

With two nearby cities essentially kicking out their entrenched providers within a few miles of my home, I can see other municipalities quickly following suit.  Having good quality, affordable municipal Internet service is not just a luxury for a city, it is essential for economic development.  As I can attest, it will be a factor in where I choose to live the next time I move. I will not put myself at the mercy of Comcast again.

By Art Reisman

 

 

Top 5 Reasons Confirming Employers Do Not Like Their IT Guy


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  • The IT room is the dregs
    Whenever I travel to visit with my IT customers, it is always a challenge to find their office.   Even if I find the right building on the Business/College Campus, finding their actual location within the building is anything but certain.  Usually it ends up being in some unmarked room behind a loading dock, accessible only by secret passage designed to relieve the building of cafeteria waste near the trash bins.   Many times, their offices are one and the same thing as the old server computer room, with the raised floor, screaming fans, and air-cooled to a Scottish winter.
  • Nobody knows you are in the building.  Often times I enter the building on the upper floors, the floors with windows and young well-dressed professionals trying to move up the ladder.  Asking these people if they know where the IT room is usually brings on blank stares of confusion and embarrassment.  To them, the IT guy is that person they only see when their computer fails with a virus.  Where he emanates from nobody knows, perhaps a trap door opens in the floor. I am not making this up.  The usually way I am instructed to meet the IT guy is tht they send me an e-mail instructing me to meet at some well-known landmark out front, like a fountain or statue with a rendezvous time.
  • You are expected to be an expert in Wireless technology. Let’s face it, the companies that make wireless controllers are sending out patches almost hourly. Why? Because they have no idea what works in the real world, and so you are part of the experiment.  The real fact is nobody is an expert in real-world wireless technology. As the IT guy, you can never admit to any holes in your wireless knowledge. If you are not willing to lie, there are plenty of people with no experience willing to make that claim with a straight face.  You just can’t be honest about this – because your boss has already told his boss you are an expert.  Here is the last paragraph of a recent article on Verizon’s trial with the latest 5G wireless….

Of course, 5G wireless has never been truly tested at scale in true market scenarios. There’s talk of gigabit capable speeds, but how would a single tower supporting fixed wireless 5G at scale compare to fiber and HFC based networks connected all the way to homes and businesses? No one really knows – yet.

Setting up a new wireless network with the latest technology is like a taking a physics test in wave propagation before you have taken the class, and expecting to pass.

  • You will never get rewarded if things work without issues.  I like to compare a good IT tech to a good umpire or a ref in a soccer game.  At best, if they do a perfect job, nobody notices them.   If I ran a big company, I would hand out bonuses to my IT staff for the days I did not need them, but I do not have an MBA. (see next paragraph)
  • Any time a  company hires a brilliant MBA from some business school, the first thing they do is explore outsourcing the IT staff.  Why ? Because nobody teaches them anything about IT in business school. They live in a fantasy world where some unknown third party with a slick brochure, and an unrealistic low-ball estimate, is going to care more about IT needs than the 4 poor schlubs in the basement who have been loyal for years. You and the in-house staff have always been on call, missing many weekends over the years, just to insure the IT infrastructure stays up, and yet the Harvard guy will shoot himself in the foot with outsourcing every time.

Together We Can Put an End to Pop Up Advertisements


Normally I would not advocate something like I am about to propose, but those pop up video advertisements are just killing me. Especially when I am using my wireless device as a hot spot,  these unwanted annoyances add insult to injury by draining my precious data usage. Yes, I have ad blockers on my browsers, but it is only a matter of time before they are subverted with some new technology. There is a better way to put an end to Pop up Advertisements but it will take a village to make a difference.

Believe it or not, the best way to put an end to unwanted advertisements is to click on them and then quickly abandon the resulting web page. Abandonments are the bane of the Marketing world. Here is why…

In traditional media a marketing team plays an advertisement/commercial for a known demographic at a fixed price, whether it be Television, Newspaper, Magazine, etc. They then measure the effectiveness of the advertisement by the increase in leads or sales over the period of time that the advertisement runs.

Digital pop advertisements are a bit different. It is a pay-for-click scheme where the advertiser gets charged by the click.  They blast these annoying advertisements to perhaps a million people with no real cost consequences, (other than fraud, but that is another story) because they do not pay unless people click on their ad.  As the people who click on the advertisements are very likely their target audience, this model is very efficient.  Advertisers love this model, as it allows them to essentially only pay advertising dollars to a self-qualified audience. After all, who clicks on an advertisement unless they have some level of interest in the product to start with?

However, if we consumers and web users rise up and just simply click on one or two web pop up ads a day that we have no interest in, the practice of bombarding us will come to end.

Why?  Because the cost of these extra clicks will make their advertising campaign much less efficient. The advertiser is looking for a return on investment, and the more clicks with no follow through sale that happen, the more unpalatable pop up ads will become.

If you too are annoyed by pop up ads, please share this article. Let us see if we can drive these advertisers back into the margins of our web pages, and get them out of our faces. I cannot do this alone.

Bandwidth Shaping Shake Up, Your Packet Shaper May be Obsolete?


If you went to sleep in 2005 and woke up 10 years later you would likely be surprised by some dramatic changes in technology.

  • Smart cars that drive themselves are almost a reality
  • The desktop PC is no longer a consumer product
  • Wind farms  now line the highways of rural America
  • Layer 7 shaping technology is now clinging to life, crashing the financials of a several  companies that bet the house on it.

What happened to layer 7 and Packet Shaping?

In the early 2000’s all the rave in traffic classification was the ability to put different types of bandwidth traffic into labeled buckets and assign a priority to them. Akin to rating your food choices  on a tapas menu ,network administrators  enjoyed an extensive  list of various traffic. Youtube, Citrix,  news feeds, the list was only limited by the price and quality of the bandwidth shaper. The more expensive the traffic shaper , the more choices you had.

Starting in 2005 and continuing to this day,  several forces started to work against the layer 7 paradigm.

  • The price of bulk bandwidth went into a free fall, much faster than the relatively fixed cost of a bandwidth shaper.  The business proposition of buying a bandwidth shaper to conserve bandwidth utilization became much tighter. Some companies that were riding high saw their stock prices collapse.
  • Internet traffic became invisible and impossible to identify with the advent of encryption techniques. A traffic classifier using Layer 7,  cannot see inside HTTPS or a VPN tunnel, and thus it is essentially becomes a big expensive albatross with little value as the rate of encrypted traffic increases.
  • The FCC ruling toward Net Neutrality further put a damper on a portion of the Layer 7 market. For years ISPs had been using Layer 7 technology to give preferential treatment to different types of traffic.
  • Cloud based services are using less complex  architectures. Companies  can consolidate on one simplified central bandwidth shaper, where as before they might have had several on all their various WAN links and Network segments

So where does this leave the bandwidth shaping market?

There is still some demand for layer 7 type shapers, particular in countries like China, where they attempt to control   everything.  However in Europe and in the US , the trend is to more basic controls that do not violate the FCC rule, cost less, and use some form intelligent based fairness rules such as:

  • Quota’s ,  your cell phone data plan.
  • Fairness based heuristics is gaining momentum, lower price point, prevents congestion without violating FCC ruling  (  Equalizing).
  • Basic Rate limits,  your wired ISP 20 megabit plan, often implemented on a basic router and not a specialized shaping device.
  • No Shaping at all,  pipes are so large there is no need to ration bandwidth.

Will Shaping be around in 10 years?

Yes, consumers and businesses will always find ways to use all their bandwidth and more.

Will price points for bandwidth continue to drop ?

I am going to go against the grain here, and say bandwidth prices will flatten out in the near future.  Prices  over the last decade slid for several reasons which are no longer in play.

The biggest driver in price drops was the wide acceptance of wave division muliplexing on carrier lines in the 2005- present time frame. There was already a good bit of fiber in the ground but the WDM innovation caused a huge jump in capacity, with very little additional cost to providers.

The other factor was a major world-wide recession, where businesses where demand was slack.

Lastly there are no new large carriers coming on line. Competition and price wars will ease up as suppliers try to increase profits.

 

 

The Exploitation of the American Tech Worker


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By Art Reisman
CTO http://www.netequalizer.com
I know what you might be thinking ,”Really? High tech workers being exploited?” And my answer is yes.  I’ll concede that this exploitation is not like the indentured servitude of the rubber barons of the late 19th century.  The players are more sophisticated, but the motives are the same.  Get a bunch of naive, young, impressionable people and waive a carrot with the possibility of riches and game on. Here is how it works.

Many top tech companies of today have started as more or less small unfunded garage shops, such as Google, Facebook, etc.  Venture capitalists have taken note of this, and they have also noticed how some of these young engineers will work day and night once they get sucked into thinking that their idea is the next Facebook.

The odds of any company growing into a valuation of a billion or more is quite small. What products will take off, what idea will get picked up on social media?  You just can’t predict this, but you can improve your odds by spreading your investment across a large number of infant startups.

From the investor standpoint, the equation makes sense. If you have a million dollars, you could perhaps fund one marginal existing company and hope they blossom; or you could take 50k and waive it front of 20 early stage startups who have not accomplished anything yet and are most likely running on fumes.

I see the articles 2 or 3 times a year in the local papers.  Boston alone has 50 start up incubators.  A typical investment company trolls these incubators, often sponsoring them, looking for promising, hard-working tech people with an idea and a prototype.  They offer them a small amount of cash, perhaps a nicer work space, advice, and so forth in return for a percentage of the fledgling company. Is this evil or wrong?  No, of course not. But there is the concept of subtle but very real exploitation going on here.  I’ll get to that part shortly.

A typical deal works something like this. Come to our incubator for the summer, we will give you office space, advice, and 50k for the three month period.  You’ll also get your company featured in a few newspapers and journals.  Local newspapers love giving free publicity to these incubators, especially if some big name VC is behind them.

Most likely 18 of these startups are going to fail through no fault of their own, it’s just their idea/product will go nowhere. One out of twenty might struggle along and create a small viable company with a niche market. And perhaps, just one will return 1000 fold or more on their 50k investment. That is the game.  Even that is a long shot, and you may have to play this game for several years before you hit that jackpot.

So now let’s take the 50k investment. Divide it by 3, for 3 months of summer and divide it again by 4, assuming the start up has four employees.  That breaks down to about 4k per person for three months, and most of these blokes are working 80+ hour weeks minimum, because they are chasing a dream. That is the culture of a tech startup.  Somehow, if you beat yourself into a tired frenzy, you are more likely to succeed, right?

Not really.  There are some people who do these insane hours, but the good ones are knocking off at 40 and are much more productive. But that is another article for another time.

Conservatively,  I can assign 300 hours a month per employee. That breaks down to about $4.50 an hour. Now granted, many of these tech startup people were working for free anyway before they struck a deal. So is this exploitation?

I don’t know, but take this into account – many of these investors are worth 100’s of millions or more and have multiple houses, boats, planes, etc. Essentially, when they buy a big stake in these start-ups, the engineers working for them now become their indentured servants.  Yes, the company employees are also driven by the potential of a big payout, but the odds are stacked against them.  Most will end up with a pile of credit card debt, and an old newspaper clipping for their resume.  I would hope that if I were the investor in this scheme I would make sure the people in the trenches made a living wage, perhaps $20 per hour?

Top Ten Article Teasers for May 2016


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By Art Reisman
CTO http://www.netequalizer.com

I was wound up and ready to write an interesting blog article today.  Problem was , I had a serious issue getting started.  I spent an hour or so with so many angles and things on my mind, that I just could not narrow it down and get started.  Then I had an out of the box idea.   I decided  to use my freedom as one of the Editors of this blog to make my article the list of headlines and associated teasers of all the article ideas in my head.  Who does that ?

Sorry if any of these leave you hanging.

Why do so many companies take technology advice from Gartner ? If their information was really that good, they would not need to be selling it.

The TSA is now talking about 3 hour lines at airports this summer. My instinct tells me this organization has realized a new-found political power. They control the airports and you must pay up if you want to fly.

Deep packet inspection. Is it dead ? A simple VPN tunnel renders it useless.

A competitor of ours, ETINC, has a really great explanation on why DPI does not work when trying to eliminate P2P . The case against Deep Packet Inspection.

Umpires and IT people nobody really likes them.

Do you hire two plumbers when one is sufficient to fix your sink ? No of course not . Your employer is no different they don’t want you on their pay-roll.

Mega Mansions and Bandwidth how much do we really need? I am expecting a tiny bandwidth movement where millennials compete on how small their bandwidth foot print is.

Does anybody pay for good content anymore ? I stopped reading Back Packer Magazine when their content every month became a list of product reviews .

How many people are moving to Colorado because weed is legal ?

The Home PC will be completely dead in 10 years.  Replaced by the PC in  Virtual Cloud.

 

 

Let us know if you want any of these expanded on for next week.

 

 

 

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