Is routing undergoing a mid-life crisis?

At the recent Interop conference, Jim moderated a panel that had the same name as this newsletter. We will use this newsletter to discuss what kind of mid-life crisis, if any, that the panelists thought that that routing was undergoing.

At the recent Interop conference, Jim moderated a panel that had the same name as this newsletter. We will use this newsletter to discuss what kind of mid-life crisis, if any, that the panelists thought that routing was undergoing.

Two of the members of the panel came from traditional routing vendors. They were Jonathan Davidson, director of Marketing for Cisco and Amir Khan, senior director of product line management for Juniper. The third member of the panel was Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy at Vyatta. In case you are not familiar with Vyatta, they provide an open source routing solution.

We are sure that the people who attended this session did not find the panel to be boring. Roberts, for example, was not shy to challenge the incumbent way of thinking about routing and more important, he challenged the incumbent way of thinking about routers. To Roberts' way of thinking, the networking market today resembles the mainframe market of the 1960s in terms of being based on custom hardware. Other similarities include that a single vendor dominates the current networking market and the traditional routing vendors avoid the use of open source solutions. He readily admitted that Cisco has "nice technology", and suggested that there is a place for those technologies. He did, however, assert his belief that most routing functionality is a commodity and can be offered via an open source solution at a fraction of the price of traditional routers.

Davidson responded to Roberts in part by pointing out that Cisco has high-availability features that an open source solution, such as Vyatta's, does not have. While Roberts did not specifically disagree with Davidson on that point, he asked Davidson the price of the lowest cost Cisco router that supported the type of high-availability features that Davidson was talking about. 

Davidson's response was that it would cost at least $35,000. Khan was more aligned with Davidson than he was with Roberts. He stated that on an increasing basis IT organizations need to be concerned with sophisticated routing functionality such as the ability of the router to do self monitoring and to support non-stop routing.

Our next newsletter will continue the discussion of routing and what if anything is driving the need for IT organizations to rethink their approach to it. In the mean time, more information on some of Jim's Interop sessions can be found at Jim's blog. In addition, Jim is spending this week in Silicon Valley getting a sense of what technologies a wide range of vendors find hot, and what technologies they find to be over-hyped. You can follow Jim on Twitter: AshtonMetzler

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