Cisco, Gartner story stirs debate

Comments are flying fast and furious re single-vendor network pros and cons

Our story on market research firm Gartner's view on single vendor network procurements has sparked quite a debate. In a nutshell, Gartner issued a report last November taking issue with vendor proclamations - chiefly Cisco's - that an end-to-end, single vendor network architecture and implementation is inherently better performing, lower cost and more reliable than a multivendor infrastructure.

Gartner's report, entitled "Debunking the Myth of the Single-Vendor Network," shoots holes through that by claiming a single-vendor Cisco network "isn't necessarily less complex, easier to manage or more reliable than a network with multiple vendors when implemented with best practices." Gartner then proposed that enterprises implementing a multivendor network can reduce total cost of ownership by at least 15% to 25% over five years.

The comments, 42 in all as of today, came pouring in from supporters and detractors alike. Unfortunately, most of them are anonymous, meaning the commenter may have a bias for or against Gartner or Cisco - or may even be employed by either company.

Anyway, here are some of the more incendiary comments:

single vendor solution i.e. cisco

By Anon on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:48am.

...When looking at the overall TCO over 3 to 5 years the enterprise experience I am aware of (multi$billion companies) says Cisco is the best option as a single or close to single vendor solution... It may be that for analysts that make a living sorting out who is best at some particular point in time serve a good purpose however, if there truly is a clear best choice in a one vendor solution i.e. cisco then it would simplify the conundrum of choices so much that there would be less need for analysts such as Gartner. The array of choices may be good for competition however cisco is so far ahead in many technology areas that second best is a road too far. I suggest that since security is so important a one vendor solution or as close to that as possible is a prudent strategy in many more ways than any other choice. I am not anti-Gartner by any stretch however I do discern that Gartner is anti-cisco -- blatanly... Like it or not, and i don't know why one would not like it, cisco is clearly a vendor that leads the industry in most categories and can deliver a one vendor solution that you can still bet the company on. you can drink one kool-aide or many. i say drink the one that has historically been safest overall and has the best record in the nost categories of trust and performance...

You're delusional if you think Cisco is god.

By Anon (not verified) on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:10am.

You are delusional if you think Cisco leads in all technologies; I've been in network for 25 years and constantly find better solutions at a substantially reduced cost. By selecting types of technologies with clear boundaries, i.e. firewalls, or VoIP, etc, it is easy to keep the number of vendors to manageable level without introducing a great deal of management overhead. Cisco's product line itself is a hodgepodge of technologies that they have acquired that have their own interoperability issues, they even have differing management interfaces and systems. They aren't as unified as you think, and they are not the leaders in every category.


By Anon on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 10:51am.

I would not put my eggs in one basket. No way. Even ERP systems recognize this with features which allow you to specify multiple vendors for a single part so you can automatically buy a widget 70% from vendor a, 20% from b and 10% from c. Same principle, no single tech hardware vendor should be able to have that kind of power over your enterprise.

Mark Fabbi has proven time

By Anon (not verified) on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:59pm.

Mark Fabbi has proven time and time that he is anti-cisco. Also, the documents he puts out are purely self serving to his company. The day he puts out a rational well thought out, non-self-serving, clear and fully disclosed document I will eat my hat.

Just more evidence...

By Geoff Strickler (not verified) on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 7:51pm.

...supporting my statement: "Cisco, you can buy better, but you can't pay more."

The botoom Line...

By Jack Morgan (not verified) on Mon, 01/24/2011 - 1:28pm.

Gartner is unprofessional. They don't actually TEST anything. It's an "opinion poll" based on a slant for a paper they want to write, usually anti Cisco. They then tell the vendors "here's what we're looking for" and the Vendors go out and bring in their Reference Accts to brag on the "slant" that Gartner wants to provide. Mark Fabbi's opinions are meaningless- he's a well knows Cisco hater- remember, this is the same company that said ATM would win out over Ethernet, that VoIP was a FAD, and that single product Startups are the way to go over tried and true providers like HP, Cisco, and Juniper. They're not looking out for your best interests, they're looking out for Theirs, usually at the expense of your Networks availability and ROI by pushing an Anti Cisco based on Cost message. If you don't pay the Gartner Ransom, like Cisco, then you get the Gartner FUD machine working against you... All the while Fabi and others are buying up the startup Shares of the companies they tout-- It's a Glorified "Pump and Dump" stock scheme. They should be investigated. ...I'm not paying Gartners Ransom for something any blind man can see...

I have spent 20 years in Networking, and my experience is at odd

By Anon on Mon, 01/24/2011 - 2:12pm.

Twenty years in networking has taught me that reliability and quick recovery, when something goes wrong, are absolutely essential. I've worked with equipment from HP, 3COM, Linksys, Netgear, and a bunch of other compnaies. None of them hold a candle to Cisco in terms of reliability, and support.

I firmly believe that Cisco equipment is built better than the other vendors equipment, and I base that on personally replacing lots of failed equipment from those vendors, compared to relatively few failed devices from Cisco.

There may be specific devices that I want to get from other vendors, but I want the switches and routers on my network to be Cisco. Saving money isn't as important as insuring the network keeps running.

Don't confuse the article with the findings or the conclusions

By Abner Germanow (not verified) on Mon, 01/24/2011 - 3:52pm.

I work for Juniper so I'm biased. I also have a long history as a proponent of dual-vendor networks when I was an analyst.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, you will find the most value in the customer experiences - I might agree with the conclusions, but those are secondary to the customer experiences. You will find some insight into many of the concerns raised in the comments here: support, troubleshooting, labor availability, etc It's not comprehensive, but it's worth asking a few of the questions to improve negotiations with your current vendor or to ensure decisions made a few years ago are still the right decisions to make in 2011.

Here is a link to my post where I've also included a link to the Gartner study (registration req = different conversation)



The Forrester Report

By Anon on Mon, 01/24/2011 - 4:18pm.

In response to the silverlake comment, a quick look at the Forrester report labels it as a commisioned report, The company that commisioned it Cisco.

They all play this game, in fact, truth is where you find it. I think everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, you need to decide which your company can live with and which you cannot. JJC

Some Missed Points....

By Anon on Tue, 01/25/2011 - 1:04am.

I do not totally agree with the arguments presented above. I have several clients in both categories: some are single vendor, Cisco shops: these are often unhappy with Cisco as a company, but the equipment runs well. Others are multi-vendor shops with Juniper and Cisco running side by side and we do see significant challenges with interoperability in standards such as GRE, BFD, and other areas. Also, we now have to perform regression testing with multiple vendors/platforms/OS versions each time we want to introduce a new product or configuration. So, as to the claims that adding a second vendor is insignificant, I totally disagree. A really strong engineer should be able to adopt different vendors and platforms easily, but to expect no impact on level 1 - 3 techs in the NOC or Operations team is simply not realistic.

So, to recap, there are times where multi-vendor solutions are warranted or required, but they DO tend to cost more to design, implement, and especially to support.

In all of these examples, the architecture, planning, implementation, and overall methodology are key. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked and underestimated...

Mixed Networks, Mixed Opinions

By Anon on Tue, 01/25/2011 - 1:32pm.

Once upon a time our network was a mix of Cisco, IBM, 3COM, Extreme and HP. What a pain to manage! What a nightmare to configure! Now that it's all Cisco, it's SO much easier. Gartner can jump in a lake.

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