Is Good Enough, Good Enough for Networking?

Cisco takes aim at best efforts networking, but does that mean that enterprise should choose a single source networking vendor strategy?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 28, 2011
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A lot of things in the networking world were originally conceived on a best effort basis. There are also a lot of networks built simply to be 'good enough' to meet the current needs of an enterprise.

In a live webcast event this week, networking vendor Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) took aim at the 'good enough' mentality when it comes to networking. Executives from Cisco stressed that the modern demands of video and collaboration cannot be effectively met by the 'good enough' approach.

There is however a catch. While Cisco is an advocate of standards, the company is also an advocate of its own specific technology platforms. Cisco is facing increasing competition from vendors including HP and Juniper. A key point of differentiation for Cisco, as well as other vendors, comes from innovations that aren't necessarily standardized.

Mike Rau, vice-president and CTO of Borderless Networks at Cisco explained that standards while important, aren't enough.

"Standards provide a set of innovations into the marketplace," Rau said. "But most of those innovations start off with an investment in R&D from a particular company that then gets integrated into a product portfolio to provide customer benefits."

Rau noted Cisco has been active in many major standards in layer 2 networking, including VLAN and Power over Ethernet, among others. He added that those standards started out as Cisco innovations to enable customers to build out reliable networks and then moved into the standards world.

"Standards-based plus" networking

Rau's belief is that when an enterprise managers are looking for a next generation networking vendor, they should look at what the vendor does from a standards basis, as well as what it's doing to provide innovation on top of those standards

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