North American Network Operators Group

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RE: Single-vendor vs. best-of-breed network

  • From: James
  • Date: Fri Dec 21 13:59:13 2001

Personally, I find a limited best of breed network the best.  I'm one
for finding the best component for the job.  Right now, my organization
just bought over a hundred NETGEAR hubs/switches, to replace dozens of
various aged switches and hubs (IBM, 3COM, SMC, bizarre brands I've
never heard of...).  This compliments our Cisco stuff, which manages
high end LAN and WAN issues.  

Multivendor also gives you some protection in failures.  For example,
some Cisco CPE DSL routers with web access enabled and an old IOS
crashed during the Code Red worm.  This happened at the ISP I worked
for.  Our Cisco customers were dropping like flies, but the Netopia
endpoints remained solid.  If this had been a more virulent and vicious
worm, it could perhaps have made things a nightmare, especially if it
could infect upper end Cisco models.

As for having to have engineers know multiple systems... I think the
engineers are capable of it most times, it is just a pain.  As long as
you have a set standards base on various other things (naming and IP
schemes, etc etc), things shouldn't be that bad.  

Heck, at my current work, our servers are NT4, Win2k, Lotus Notes on
NT4, ancient Novell servers and several Linux based ones.  It is a pain
to manage and make everything work together and we are moving to
solidate (Dumping NT and Lotus... Novell is a legacy we HAVE to support
because it runs software which manages our primary function and no one
up high wants to pay to migrate it to something more modern).  

Before I sign off:
IMHO and YMHV :)

- James

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of
Pete Kruckenberg
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2001 1:12 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Single-vendor vs. best-of-breed network

I'm trying to make an informed decision whether moving to a
multi-vendor best-of-breed makes sense for my organization.
This is obviously a complex question, so I am hoping to tap
some (figurative) "grey hair" advise from real-world
experiences for the general areas I should focus on in
making/justifying a decision.

What, if anything, makes a multi-vendor (wide-area) network
successful and worth the risks over the "safe" single-vendor
network nobody gets fired for buying (you can probably guess
what vendor Powers my network now). What are the
(un)quantifiable metrics/ROI/arguments you've used to
justify being single-vendor or best-of-breed?

The single-vendor argument seems to primarily focus on
customer support (no finger-pointing, no confusion who to
call) and single skill-set (leverage training, hire rote
technicians)  advantages. The multi-vendor faction seems to
focus on best features/performance, best price, and keeping
vendors honest. What are the real factors and what is FUD
for someone who has been on both sides?

Personal experience, pointers to case studies, (vendor)
white papers, etc on both sides of the argument are