Stories by Kevin Tolly

What will rate in 2008?

It's time to look into the crystal ball to see what exciting products will be coming your way next year. In my case, I can skip the crystal ball and just look at the testing projects at The Tolly Group that are wending their way to you. Breakthroughs in performance and functions abound.

Soft hardware: the joys of virtual appliances

For all of my 25+ years in IT, the "software vs. hardware" debate has raged on. During that time, their benefits were mutually exclusive. In many instances, software gave us total flexibility, but hardware gave us reliability and performance. As with most things in life, there were tradeoffs. Now, though, it appears that virtualization is coming to the rescue -- again -- with the concept of virtual appliances. Perhaps you can have it all, after all.

Unified communications - battle royal

For me the recent VoiceCon show in San Francisco gave new meaning to the words "unified messaging." As I made my rounds to close to two dozen analyst meetings, almost every executive was focused on laying out their company's "Unified Communications" strategy and/or its upper-stack cousin, "Communications-enabled Business Processes." UC and CEBP were certainly the stars of the show but how we'll get there is not at all clear and a big battle is brewing.

Big Iron is back

After some two decades of having its market share eroded by migration to server-based applications, "big iron" is back. And, irony of ironies, the catalyst for the comeback is the need to deal with server farms that have grown out of control.

Rethinking wireless LAN packet loss

We all know that there are trade-offs when using wireless communications. We would never tolerate the quality of our cell phones on land lines and we know that our wired Ethernet connections have better raw throughput than wireless.

App Accel and Microsoft's stack attack

"Niche killer" has been an oft-encountered modus operandi of Microsoft over the years. Whether it is disk defragmentation, disk compression, firewall or antispyware, Microsoft has eventually decided to play the game and, in the process, change the game. While in the past these forays were limited, Microsoft is now poised to potentially shake up a much bigger space -- the world of application acceleration.

Lo-Fi Wi-Fi: Taking it to the streets

Strange times in Portland, Oregon: The Unwired Portland project is aimed at delivering Wi-Fi access to every part of the city, but some people just don't get it -- the signal, that is.

Will Cisco suffer IBM's fate?

A mere decade ago, IBM was king of the corporate networks. That was no surprise, given that IBM essentially invented the mainstream corporate network. The surprise was that before 1999 was out, IBM was out, too -- out of the network business. The company had been dethroned and exiled, finally selling what was left of its network business to Cisco.

Open source and secret sauce

A few weeks back, one of The Tolly Group's testing clients got a fair bit of press when it announced test results showing that its open source, Fast Ethernet router outperformed Cisco's 2821 Integrated Services Router.

Blogs, truth and the enterprise

The Internet, in general, and blogs, in particular, give enterprise architects a vast array of informational resources to blend into their buying decisions. But are all blogs what they appear to be? Is it honest discussion and useful facts that you are getting? Or is it the words of someone with a hidden agenda?

Vista -- The calm in the eye of the PC storm

For all the attention the introduction of Vista has received in recent weeks, it has ironically been one of the calmest areas in the world of personal computing -- the eye of a storm engulfing many of Microsoft's partners.

Living in the post e-mail world

I give up. After almost two decades of e-mail being my quintessential business tool for managing people, projects and processes, I have to admit that it no longer is up to the job. It is time for me to deal with the fact that we are living in a post e-mail world.

The great afterthought: Your broadband router

We all know the saying about the weakest link and recognize its inherent truth. In the great chain of technology that is our broadband service, we seldom think of our state-of-the-art routers as being that link, but perhaps we should.

Redmond vs. Red Hat: Divide and conquer

As we close out the year, it is instructive to ponder last month's pro-Linux announcement by Microsoft. It tells us a lot about how the company's thinking is evolving with respect to competition. And, more importantly, what that might mean to customers in the coming year.

Google Docs: How much Office is enough?

When Google talks, people listen. Therefore, when Google offers alternatives to Microsoft, it is prudent to consider their impact. Google Docs & Spreadsheets, now in beta, is a multipronged assault on Fortress Microsoft.