Cisco Blogs

Architecting Borderless Networks with a Systems Approach

- November 13, 2009 - 1 Comment

Cisco’s Borderless Networks initiative comes at a time when network technology is more important than ever before in driving growth and ROI for businesses. Connecting anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world, and improving your ability to effectively deliver critical applications and services, requires a paradigm shift away from a “plumbing” view of the network. The network doesn’t just pump data from one place to another. In a time increasingly defined by video communication, wireless connectivity and cloud computing, having a strong network provides real strategic business value everyday. The same is true for the fundamental core of the network (i.e. routing and switching) as it is for newer extensions that the core supports, such as virtualization and video conferencing.

As network technology continues to evolve, how should you think about planning your network architecture to sustain your business for the long haul? In a recent whitepaper, the Yankee Group discusses three general approaches:

  1. A “cost-based purchasing” approach – buying network equipment based on the lowest initial price offered by various suppliers.
  2. A “best of breed technology approach” – buying the very best technology for each component of the network.
  3. A “systems approach” – evaluating the network as a complete end-to-end system and choosing a single vendor.

If you think about the network as an essential strategic investment, the Yankee Group finds several flaws in the first two approaches. At the time of purchase, the cost-based approach may appear to offer better total cost of ownership (TCO), but this benefit can be very short-lived. Since low-end products are generally not built with technology that can adapt to quickly changing business requirements or the fast pace of innovation, you wind up with frequent replacement cycles and unnecessary downtime that results in higher TCO and lost opportunity costs over the long run.

Similarly, the best of breed approach gives you quality technology at each point in the network, but you may wind up with a slew of non-interoperable devices, which are difficult to manage, require expensive support, and may necessitate replacement if non-interoperability inhibits feature integration.

The Yankee Group’s paper points to the systems approach as the best way to ensure a flexible network that keeps up with innovation, is easy to manage, and typically has a lower TCO over time. With fast-moving industry trends in unified and video based communications, virtualization, SaaS, and enterprise mobility, the ability of the network to seamlessly adapt to change without downtime or costly upgrades is becoming more and more a requirement. With a holistic, systems approach your network has the ability to deliver lower TCO, even if you bought your products at a price that was initially higher than that of low-end alternatives, and a truly borderless experience that integrates any device in the network.

Cisco follows a systems approach to the network. As we’ve continued to set industry standards over the past 20 years, it has been our philosophy to mold the latest end-to-end networking innovations into our products and make this process as smooth as possible for partners, customers, and service providers. For example, new products like the ISR G2 will be able to adapt to innovations in video, service virtualization, and network performance for years to come.

I’m sure Borderless Networks will be a key topic in Marie Hattar’s Interop keynote next week. Watch a sneak preview video here.  You can also register to receive updates on Interop happenings via your mobile device by texting the word “interopny” to the phone number 24726.

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  1. Thanks for introducing me to the whitepaper. Very informative.-Shaun