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Let the Customer Decide

The other day, I was sitting with some very smart Cisco people talking about the exciting new developments they’re working on. Very cool stuff, indeed. Somehow the subject of multivendor support came up. We all knew that, yes, Cisco does that. But we also agreed that, unfortunately not everyone else knows it.

We, no doubt, bear some of the blame because we don’t spend a lot of time talking about Cisco support for multivendor networks. Sure, no vendor wants to promote competing devices. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about working with and managing devices from other vendors. And we do that. Quite well in fact. Our management tools, including Prime Infrastructure, can discover all the devices on the network, including those from third parties. We can poll the devices to get high-level information such availability, basic device inventory, and top-NN reports for CPU, memory and interface utilization. And we can receive standard RFC compliant SNMP traps.

The real power comes from what we can do with Cisco devices. We’re able to get highly detailed data about our devices and apply intelligence—that’s the smart part—to turn that data into real network benefits such as RF interference mitigation, local services discovery, Cisco knowledge-based best practices, and other performance enhancements. And because we offer a complete, end-to-end portfolio, we can get that information and apply it to more points along the data path. Very powerful stuff.

So why don’t we make a bigger deal about it?

We don’t emphasize multivendor device support because the decision to focus on a single-vendor or multivendor should depend on the customer’s needs, not our marketing. If the customer has a legacy network or is integrating a legacy network from acquired companies or locations, it might make sense to support that existing infrastructure—regardless of vendor. And if that’s what the customer needs, we’ll do that. However, this is rarely the case. Why? Because this approach is really about maintaining the status quo. And if a customer sees their network as the platform for conducting business, maintaining the status quo is never good enough.

Check back in a few weeks and I’ll explain why a more unified network is generally a better choice than multivendor.

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