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Don’t take my Kodachrome Away…

March 12, 2008 - 0 Comments

I have to hand it to Brad Reese for being able to drive a discussion 🙂 Ok, or maybe to fan the flames of a mild-mannered campfire into that of a forest-sweeping conflagration. But either way it is just downright funny to me the comments people are making on Network World.I guess being called a ‘Schmuck’ isn’t so bad, even though it means I am probably off of our northern neighbor’s holiday card list for eternity.I titled this ‘Don’t take my Kodachrome Away’ not only because I happen to like the song, but also because we asked one of our top customers once if they thought it would be to their advantage for us to invest more in using merchant silicon, or to keep innovating in our own custom designs. This rather large web company was adamant that we keep our own silicon investments up. Why? Because if the market ‘devolved’ to only having two main suppliers of switch fabrics, forwarding engines, and port asics there would be a significant reduction in innovation, but also an increase in ‘churn rates’ of their equipment. Not my opinion mind you, a customers. But one worth digging into a bit… especially the last point as the one about innovation has already been supported by our competitors who praise merchant silicon, but when it comes to invention/innovation validated the custom ASIC route. (note to any disaffected silicon developers- we love you guys)But as to the lifecycle comment- when we build high-end modular platforms we make design decisions around building platforms that last at least a decade. This requires not only foresight, participation and leadership in standards bodies, and the deliberate application of decades of lessons learned in leading the Ethernet market but more importantly it also requires an architectural decision. These architectural decisions around lifecycle preclude merchant silicon- mostly because the vendors of these chipsets have a penchant for changing their system architecture every few years. If Cisco followed this route we would be no different from the companies who change their switching platforms introducing new ones and obsoleting others at 3-4 times the rate we do.btw- if we forklifted the Catalyst 6500 at the same rate as some of our merchant silicon based competitors we would generate a pile of Catalyst 6500s about 53 miles high… annually. Now that may be a good thing for revenue, but its not the right decision for our customers.Happy Tuesday, and may it continue to be a colorful one…dg

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