Friday, January 29, 2010

You Inherited A Cisco Environment, But Why Are you Still Buying It?

I have met with many data center professionals and we have had excellent conversations about new ideas and new methods for securing data, meeting compliance challenges and creating efficiencies within the IT organization to strengthen core business operations. One area though is often off-limits to discussion - the switching and routing environment.

All too often companies say “we are a Cisco shop” in answer to discussing alternative solutions to core switching, routing, branch office switches and wireless networking. While Cisco is a good product and worthy of investment, why are so many companies not even considering alternatives at all? This is blind allegiance to a manufacturer without fair and due consideration to your own company’s budgetary and technology needs. 90 percent of companies run multiple operating systems (Unix, Linux, Windows), and an almost equal amount leverage multiple server platforms – Sun, HP, IBM, Dell - so why are so many companies strictly Cisco shops?

Cisco clearly has the dominant market share of switching and routing in the enterprise, but there are alternatives that are gaining momentum such as Extreme Networks and Juniper Networks. Because Cisco has been the dominant player for so long, they have legacy challenges that the other competitors have resolved and improved upon.

For example, Cisco’s IOS and CatOS are well known, but get very cumbersome to manage in a large environment; particularly in a dynamic environment that is changing – either growing or contracting. Extreme Networks XOS operating system is a fully modular OS and can be managed and upgraded to new versions in a cohesive and straightforward manner.

The simpler process of managing, upgrading and maintaining Extreme’s XOS provides a substantial cost savings in supporting the switching environment. The time involved in maintaining a similar environment that runs IOS is much higher due to factors such as different operating system versions on switches and a complicated software maintenance path.

In addition to the time-savings, Extreme Networks offers a lower “Total Cost of Ownership” than Cisco, including:

  • Reduce power and cooling costs - Extreme’s BD8810 uses roughly 30% less power than the Cisco 6509 as an example.
  • Lower cost of replacement parts – The lower overall cost of the Extreme Networks appliances translates into lower costs for replacement parts when issues arise.

As the need arises to replace, upgrade or deploy additional switching equipment in your environment, you should consider the alternatives. You have a heterogeneous data center already, so why not leverage additional switching and router vendors in your environment as well?