Why Open Networking Matters
“I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the board game ‘Monopoly’.”
– Steven Wright
The Internet won. The days of private-line WANs are gone, making Cisco’s proprietary protocols disappear faster than Oprah on a waterslide. Open standards now reign supreme.
IP eliminated technology lockup. As a result Cisco’s market share in routers and security has been slowly eroding since the late ‘90s. But why ditch Cisco just so you can buy Juniper? About the only real difference between their products is paint color.
A closed system is a closed system, no matter which vendor it comes from. You can’t optimize your software and your hardware purchases separately. You’re still on the chassis-replacement treadmill for the most ridiculous of vendor-enforced reasons. You’re still stuck.
Open networking is vastly better. Like all open systems revolutions before it, open networking decouples the software from the hardware. Customers can pick best-of-breed software and put it on highest price/performance hardware – and because open standards prevail, it interoperates. Open systems take the tyranny of a vendor-defined industry and supplant it with an era of customer choice and intense vendor competition.
One immediate benefit is radically better economics. Go with open networking and you’ll see immediately how much farther your budget goes. Answer: 5-10X further. It’s clear from the vendor’s gross margins: Cisco’s are 70% — and so are Juniper’s! There’s no reason to switch from one to the other; you’re just trading a headache for an upset stomach. On the other hand Dell’s gross margins are just 15%. Why? Because standards allow a Dell box to be replaced by an HP box — and the same software will run on both of them. Standards enable healthy competition for the customer to leverage, and that’s visible in vendor pricing models.
But there’s something more important than just price: Competition between vendors forces innovation, which gives IT better ability to meet business goals and lower total costs drastically. Why can Cisco sell the same exact box for years on end, while Intel-based servers leap forward every six months? Why can a proprietary device maker force you to forklift-upgrade your hardware just to get access to new software functionality? And why can’t you leverage powerful trends like virtualization in closed systems? It’s as if the proprietary vendors have a slogan: “Stay closed, get hosed. “
Open systems give you freedom on many fronts. Open networking is here today. Carpe diem.
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