How to Save Some $$$s - Keep Competition in Your Network

Don't Buy Everything From Cisco, Cisco Needs Some Competition

Is this rough economy, we are all looking for ways to cut costs. However, life, and projects, do go on, which means buying new equipment still (probably from Cisco). But - and this is not a shock - Cisco is out to maximize their profits at your expense. ;-) You need to keep your costs low. Now Cisco, and their VARs, may be seen as "partners" or "strategic vendors", and that's a good thing for many companies. But, they are still just a vendor, not a subsidiary or co-worker. While you should involve them in your decisions and ensure they understand your business needs, they are using that data to sell you the most Cisco stuff they can. Your job is to get the best deal you can. Case in point a couple recent experiences at our company. I, and one of my engineers, have written a lot about our new Cisco Nexus based data center. But, using the Nexus switches was not a given for the new data center. Once we knew we were going to build the data center, we did a very detailed engineering analysis between three different vendors. We had a vendor scoring matrix that listed all of our requirements for a data center switch line. We scored each vendor on each requirement based on our research, vendor literature, and vendor supplied information. This made the Cisco account team very aggressive because they didn't want to lose to a new vendor. The Nexus line was brand new and we weren't sure it was right for our needs. By doing the analysis, and keeping competition in our network, Cisco was motivated to give us a very good deal. We have applied this model in other cases too including WAN acceleration, global server load balancing, and wireless. This is healthy for your network and for your engineers who can get too comfortable picking Cisco every time. Furthermore, they might not realize it, but engineers will learn so much more, and enjoy the work so much more, when they have to evaluate several products. It makes them act as a real engineer - gathering data, analyzing results, making good recommendations. Another tip with Cisco (which my Nexus story about is an example of) - if you want to drive real competition with Cisco do it with routing and switching. Despite all of their diversification, Cisco (and particularly Cisco's sales team), are still routing and switching people at heart. Getting some real R&S competition in your network will help you drive sales in all other areas. I hear Juniper sells routers. You wouldn't (ok, shouldn't) buy the first car you test drive. You shop around for the best deal. You negotiate. You compare prices. Do the same thing for your network. Cisco is just like Toyota. Very good automobiles (routers), but not the only dealership (vendor) in town.

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