A few weeks ago, I wrote about multivendor networks and why Cisco doesn’t get more credit for our capabilities there. Again, we can and do support multivendor… but I ask you to consider what’s truly best for the customer’s business. If the customer’s network is very basic or requires a specialty device that only one vendor supplies, a multivendor may be necessary. But, generally, a multivendor approach is a compromise that can hamper a customer’s growth.
Often the multivendor decision is driven by a desire to cut costs. While this is a worthy goal, initial cost is only part of the equation. The least expensive device may, in fact, cost more in the long run. More to support. More to integrate. And more in lost opportunity due to technology that’s just not up to the task.
One thing about technology—it never stands still. People and businesses continue to expect more from their network. And the best networks deliver. Unfortunately, a network is only as robust, secure, or capable as its weakest link. A network device that was cutting edge five years ago may now be hopelessly inadequate and unable to deliver today’s necessary capabilities. Adding new devices from a new vendor to an existing network only maintains that status quo. You’ll simply be putting a new shine on an old rock.
To provide a network that keeps pace with today’s advances, you need to replace old devices that have become bottlenecks with new devices that can support evolving technology. Or better yet, new devices that support and prepare you for future technologies. Because a device that’s only ready for today will be inadequate for tomorrow. Plan ahead.
So what about simply pulling the antiquated devices and deploying different devices from multiple vendors?
Sure, this would remove the weak link. And it would support a multivendor approach. But at a compromise. Generally, leading edge device vendors such as Cisco know their technology better than anyone else. They know what’s under the hood and how to get the best performance. They don’t need workarounds or customizations that can come back to hinder future upgrades. They simply work better together.
Take Cisco Energywise for example. Using this switching solution, you can control power to access ports for greater energy efficiency and significant cost savings. However, due to lack of management consistency, you wouldn’t be able to the same with non-Cisco equipment.
Or Cisco CleanAir Technology. This technology can help mitigate RF interference. But, integrate it with the Cisco Mobility Services Engine and you’ll be able to pinpoint and eliminate RF interference faster and with even greater accuracy . Why? Because CleanAir is able to use context delivered via Mobility Services Engine.
So, yes, a multivendor network will work. And it’ll usually do an adequate job. But as the network evolves to become the ecosystem for conducting business, connecting people, and controlling operations, is adequate really good enough?