I will say right up front – I’m a foodie. I like to cook and I like to dine out too. When I do dine out, I want to choose what I want off the menu – I don’t want to be told what I have to eat.

Imagine if you went to a restaurant where the only thing you could get was a badly overcooked steak served with fries and ketchup and the waiter told you they don’t do fish/chicken/vegetarian . . . or starters or desserts. Oh yeah – no coffee either. You most probably would move on somewhere else.

The whole process of dining can and does vary from customer to customer but . . . . the chairs and tables are the same, the staff are the same and so is the kitchen. It doesn’t get re-modelled because today I want an omelette instead of a steak. The same equipment is used by the same people. Just in a different way.

It would be a bit odd if a chef used a particular pan to sear scallops and was then told the next day he could not use the very same pan to create a risotto. Why then do many IT networks and Vendors do exactly that – not allow you to do something different with the same piece of equipment. That makes no sense but it’s real.

Think of food as the “application” – I want my selection, cooked my way, served with the right wine, on time . . . preferably with a smile.

Think of the kitchen as the network underlay – it physically remains the same but is used in a multitude of ways to suit the customer’s selection. To take this further, I came across a company called Angelo Po who make commercial ovens. The CombiStar FX manages 20 cooking processes simultaneously, you can load recipes from USB and it even cleans itself! Software defined Cooking anyone?

Consider the people involved. Let’s say you have a venue with a function suite and a couple of dining rooms and a bistro. Bit like an enterprise network with HR, Finance, Engineering and Sales departments. The Maitre d’hotel of the venue has overall responsibility for the smooth running of all the dining facilities and ensuring customers get what they want . . . and pay for. So, this could be seen as the “Orchestration” function.

In each room there will be a Head Waiter responsible for that section – the seating, staffing level, wine list and communication with the kitchen – like a “SDN Controller” say.

The Executive Chef is the one responsible for menu choices – these have to be created and tested before packaging them for customers. Flavour combinations, portion control, seasonal availability all have to be taken into account – and sometimes tweaked at short notice. Anyone see “DevOps” here?

OK – maybe it’s just the left field way I look at the world but . . . if networks were more like good restaurants and Vendors provided multi-function (open standard) “kitchen equipment”, the customers would return time after time, building loyalty and a solid revenue stream. And they’d enjoy every minute of it. Good business in anybody’s book.