In my previous two posts, I offered an eyes-wide-open view of two often-cited criticisms relating to Cisco networks – Complexity and Cost. In this third and final installment of the myth-busting series, I want to dismiss the assertion that Cisco networks limit choice. Conversely, I’ll argue that Cisco networks actually offer the greatest choice to network operators.
Before I dispel the myth of Choice, I want to state that there are a number of variations of the Choice myth. I’ll focus on the five that I see as most relevant to the network and the network operator – Network Options, Open Standards, Support Resources, Partner Solutions, and Business Innovation.
Does buying Cisco limit your options in network design? In product selection? In IT plans? Ask a Cisco customer about choice. Most often, they will cite that they have too many choices to make – not too few. Routers. Switches. Wireless. Security. Application acceleration. Unified Communications. TelePresence. The list goes on and on. I say the choice is the network operator’s – not ours. While Cisco provides loads of expert and proven guidance (Design Zone, Cisco Validated Designs, web-based support…), ultimately, the choice rests with the network operator.
Does buying Cisco translate to vendor lock-in? Cisco is indeed proud to lead the network industry in innovation and will continue to offer network operators the best that technology offers. However, this does not mean that Cisco is bent on delivering proprietary solutions that restrict operator choice. An examination of any of our products will reveal a long list of supported standards. As further proof of Cisco’s commitment to open systems, examine Cisco’s role in network standards over the last 25 years. Here, you will find that Cisco has been and remains at the forefront of driving the development, availability, and adoption of standardized technologies. Just submit us to a vendor litmus test. Wondering where MPLS came from? BGP? PoE? VLANs and VSANs? CAPWAP? Check out the related Cisco Platform blog and this whitepaper for more information.
Does buying Cisco limit your external and internal support options? The availability of over one million Cisco-certified engineers would certainly point to a wide and deep pool of experts available to any organization operating Cisco networking solutions. And with thousands of Cisco Networking Academies worldwide contributing to an annual expansion of this number by around 15%, staff choice is increasing. In addition, Cisco-certified partners (system integrators, VARs, Distributors) offer yet more choice to operators looking outside of their organization for needed high-impact expertise and services. The combination of these support options with Cisco’s own customer support experts, resources, and services delivers more choices to network operators than any other networking vendor.
Does buying Cisco limit your use of third party tools and applications? For independent software vendors (ISVs), development efforts aimed at Cisco networks offer the greatest opportunity for success. Look at all the management system vendors that make use of Cisco’s NetFlow. Look at the ISVs now writing software for Cisco’s Application eXtension Platform – a LINUX-based server module available for Cisco Integrated Services Routers. Look at the partnerships developing around Cisco EnergyWise and Cisco’s Smart Grid program. Cisco’s industry-leading position attracts development partners – partners that heighten the choices available to network operators looking to derive even greater returns from their Cisco networks.
Does buying Cisco limit network adaptation or business innovation? Compare Cisco routing and switching products and components (Catalyst, ISR, ASR…) to any available in the industry and you will find greater service intelligence and longer service lifetimes. Compare Cisco mobility solutions to others and you will find stronger wireless communications and security capabilities. Compare Cisco Unified Communications solutions (Unified Communications Manager, TelePresence, WebEx) to others and you’ll find the best possible collaboration experience. All of the above translate to not only more choices in networking, but even more importantly, more choices in business.
In the end, what is meant by open systems? Open to connecting equipment from multiple vendors? The Cisco network does that. Open to offering new services to connected users and IT resources? The Cisco network does that. Open to accepting new business responsibilities? The Cisco network does that.
The more all-encompassing your definition of Choice, the better the match with Cisco. Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture bears this out. As network requirements expand beyond today’s location, device, and application borders, Cisco is THE vendor offering real choice in networking.
What do you think of these common myths about Cisco networking products? Your thoughts, positive or negative, are welcome.