Cisco set to counter Gartner 'myths'

Wired, wireless networks: How many vendors?

Gartner has been on a bit of a tear for the past couple of years about the potential downsides of single-vendor networks.

The researcher has warned enterprises repeatedly against automatically assuming that homogeneous networks are cheaper, less complex and more likely to have interoperable components than networks built from multiple, best-in-class sources.

CASE IN POINT: Gartner slams Cisco's single-vendor network vision

This has been much to the chagrin of Cisco, poster child for the one-stop-shop mantra. But the networking giant is about to fight back.

Cisco is bringing out some big guns for an IPTV broadcast, to take place tomorrow, April 27, at 8 a.m. PDT/11 a.m. EDT. The company is likely to refute points Gartner made in reports such as last fall's "Debunking the Myth of the Single-Vendor Network," May 2009's "Introducing a Second Vendor Saves Money, Improves Operations" and last month's "Clients That Don't Segment their Network Infrastructure Will Have Higher Costs and Increased Vendor Lock-in."

Cisco may not refer to these reports directly, but it's clear that's what the company is up to. Bottom line: Gartner debunked what it considers certain "positive myths" of single-vendor networks (promulgated largely by Cisco), and it looks like Cisco is determined to un-debunk them with testimonials from a high-end customer and integrator.

The likes of Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president of worldwide operations, and Mike Rau, vice president and chief technology officer for Cisco Borderless Networks, will be joined by technologists from The Royal Bank of Scotland and the CEO of integrator BlueWater Communications Group to make the case.

Want in on the drama? If so, register here.

Now, one obvious point of demarcation where enterprises have been willing to let in a second vendor has been at the edge of wired and wireless LANs. Cisco does still retain the largest market share in enterprise WLANs; still, Aerohive, Aruba Networks, Enterasys, HP, Meru Networks, Motorola, Trapeze/Juniper Networks and others have long survived and even thrived.

The same goes for third-party overlays and add-ons for wireless intrusion detection and prevention, troubleshooting, performance and health monitoring and locationing. Also, mobile device management is a newer area in which many veteran companies and startups alike are penetrating enterprises.

And Aruba recently announced Mobile Device Access Control (MDAC) for Cisco, an alternative to Cisco's TrustSec suite of access control components that Aruba claims costs one-seventh of what it would cost existing Cisco customers to add mobile access control to their networks using Cisco products.

Then again, Aruba has its own convergence story with its new Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE), as do Cisco, HP and Enterasys. And I'm guessing it won't be long before Trapeze/Juniper has one to tell, too.

So, guys, which is it? Convergence and one-stop shopping? If so, don't blame Cisco for singing that refrain. If not, make sure your convergence marketing-ese leaves room for differentiation and competition from other wireless specialists.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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