Cisco and Enterprise Networking

By eWEEK Labs  |  Posted 2008-03-06 Print this article Print

Want to e-mail that MP3 you bought from from work to home? You'd better encrypt it before it sets off AT&T's forthcoming piracy filter.

Actually, you may want to rethink that encryption, as it makes it look like you have something to hide. AT&T has already been outed for funneling all its traffic into that secret National Security Agency monitoring station, and you don't want the NSA thinking you have something to hide, do you? Better send that file via sneakernet, just in case.

And, of course, there's always the good old anti-competitive practices that got the company declared a monopoly in the first place. AT&T is back at it, stifling broadband competition, as recent developments indicate the company will soon raise wholesale DSL prices significantly-leaving its independent ISP customers holding the bag as they lose money on existing customer contracts based on the old pricing structure.

All this leaves the impression that AT&T is more dominant and more scary than ever. It's the company you love to hate-yet can never escape.
-Andrew Garcia


IOS is the lingua franca that all network engineers have at least some fluency in because of the dominance of one network equipment maker.

While many other networking companies have come and gone, Cisco Systems is widely recognized as the 800-pound gorilla of enterprise networking. Still up to weight and looking to the future, Cisco just unveiled the latest supervisor engine for its Catalyst 6500 chassis, which has the distinction of being the single-biggest-earning SKU in the company's history. In addition, while plans call for active development of the Catalyst 6500 platform until 2012, Cisco recently rolled out the Nexus 7000, its new family of data center switching platforms.

Cisco wasn't always the dominant force in networking. Through much of the early '90s, Cisco was often confused with the food service company Sysco. But with growing acceptance of IP networking and a string of acquisitions that grew company revenues and product capabilities, Cisco has become a behemoth with almost household name recognition.

The company's dominance affects how network managers and even the entire IT industry work. Much as a carpenter solves problems with a hammer, Cisco's IP prowess tends to mean that every IT challenge appears to have an IP network solution. For example, primarily because of Cisco, endpoint security is thought of as a problem to be solved in the network with admission control protocols, instead of an operating system problem to be solved with various trusted computing initiatives.

This becomes even clearer when you look at the company's emerging technology group.

Cisco is betting its future on moving more data onto IP-based networks. Aside from widely heralding the convergence of voice, data and video on the network, the company is focused on TelePresence, IPICS (IP Interoperability and Collaboration System), physical security, and digital media and signage. Tele-Presence is basically videoconferencing on a "Star Trek"-like scale of realism, while IPICS involves emergency communication systems.

Cisco CEO John Chambers said in 2005 that the company would take greater risks in developing emerging technology to ensure continued growth. In addition to the emerging technology areas mentioned above, several other technologies are in the Cisco incubator, company executives have told eWEEK.


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