How Cisco lost out in networking Battlestar Galactica

The Sci-Fi Network series Battlestar Galactica starts its fourth and final season tonight and Network World has obtained a document written by a Cisco sales trainee describing his sales meeting with senior Galactica officials about upgrading the Galactica network. The author of this story would like to give special thanks to the devoted Battlestar Galactica fans at Battlestar Wiki, without whom this piece would not have been possible.

The Sci-Fi Network series Battlestar Galactica starts its fourth and final season tonight and Network World has obtained a document written by a Cisco sales trainee describing his sales meeting with senior Galactica officials about upgrading the Galactica network. The author of this story would like to give special thanks to the devoted Battlestar Galactica fans at Battlestar Wiki, without whom this piece would not have been possible.

Office of the Library of the Colonies

The following document was recovered from a metal briefcase, originally from a Cisco regional sales office on Caprica, but subsequently found on the freighter Kima Huta, part of the refugee fleet after the Second Cylon War.

The document details Cisco’s final attempt to sell an integrated computer network to Colonial Fleet authorities as an upgrade to the nearly obsolete BS-75 (Galactica).

As is well known, Galactica was one of the few remaining Battlestar-class vessels without integrated networks, a bias derived from the original Cylon War, when the Cylons were able to seize control of defense systems by viral attacks.

The document is from a Cisco sales rep, reporting the results of his last meeting aboard Galactica with Commander (later Admiral) William Adama, and other ship officers, just a few months before the start of the Second Cylon War.

#### CISCO CONFIDENTIAL #####

This file was transmitted over an encrypted connection

Copy 1 of 1

Document ID: CQ3S02378-4075

To: A. Martin, VP/GM Quadrant 3 Sales, Chambers Building, Caprica

Fr: J. Cox, sales trainee, second class, Caprica

Re: Results of final Galactica Upgrade meeting

I regret to report that this meeting did not achieve the team’s objectives for our C 1.3 billion-cubit proposal to integrate Galactica’s archaic computer networks.

It was not my fault.

Though the failure to win approval is a disappointment, I must say that the project cost estimate did not adequately factor in the aggravation of being forced to work, however briefly, with the senior Galactica officers.

The meeting got off to a rocky start. I asked, politely, if there was a data port that I could use to obtain a Colonialnet connection. There was silence. I tried to explain that I needed the connection to download a set of updated, 3D slides for the presentation.

“We don’t allow Colonialnet connections on Fleet assets,” said Commander Adama.

This was not developing as planned, based on how I had composed opening statements to grab the attention of the customers. But, I recovered quickly. Rather cleverly, I pointed out that such thinking was exactly the problem on Galactica.

“We’re not living in the time of the Lords of Kobol anymore, Commander,” I said with a laugh.

Judging by their silence, they completely missed my point.

As part of spotting all opportunities to add value and sell, I asked them to describe what the main operational needs of the business are.

“We’re not a business,” Adama said.

“Well, no, not exactly, but you have operational needs. I mean, everyone has operational needs,” I said, touching his arm with my hand, using non-verbal communication to my advantage. The look in Adama’s eyes however made me abruptly withdraw my hand, which I found to be shaking.

“Our main operational need is to kill the enemy,” interjected his Executive Officer, Colonel Tigh. “Can your integrated computer network help us do that?”

Of course, it can! I started to explain how the hardened, Cisco Cosmos Integrated Network (CCIN), by converging voice, data and video, in a redundant topology over a multiterabyte fiber backbone, can cut the time for the initial firing solution of the main batteries by 15%, leading directly to more deaths. (The original presentation had a high-def clip of CGI warships blowing up at this point, but of course they didn’t see it.)

I felt I was building rapport quickly, involving the audience.

I punched some numbers into my calculator. The ROI benefits for just that part of the network ranged from 23% over the Fleet’s standard 5-year depreciation schedule, but jumped to nearly 90% in case of, you know, war.

I was establishing credibility, and delivering with confidence and impact.

The Executive Officer asked how Cisco would protect the network from a Cylon attack. Which was a ridiculous question, really, given that no one had even seen a Cylon for 40 years. I punted, and told him Cisco was developing a comprehensive Anti-Cylon Security Package option for CCIN. I thought I had dealt confidently with his questions and overcome his objections, but, strangely, he expressed skepticism. In rather abusive terms.

I pointed out that the Fleet had nearly finished deployment of the Command Navigation Program, a new fleet operating system, co-authored by Gaius Baltar. And that CNP was being implemented via Cisco networks. This seemed to be an excellent way of gaining conditional commitment during my presentation.

“I fought that decision tooth and nail,” Commander Adama replied. He pointed out that during the Cylon War, the enemy had directly attacked networked computers with sophisticated viruses to gain access to military systems. I tapped my tablet and called up the spec sheet for the Cisco PIX 1500 Firewall. I adopted a relaxed, slightly leaning forward posture, with lots of use of the hands, good eye contact, and a confident, modulated voice, the picture of “firmly asserting.” “Commander, this baby is bulletproof,” I assured him.

He glanced over at Colonel Tigh. “Get this clown off my bridge,” he rasped.

I started to shift into “aggressively controlling” but the two Colonial Marines who braced me were considerably larger than me, and my Cisco Sales Training, while admirably thorough, did not include hand-to-hand combat.

I have attached the requisite “Lost Property Form” (LPF103B) since the presentation tablet was left onboard Galactica.

Learn more about this topic

 
Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Related:
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10