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Cisco is missing the transition to software-defined networks

8/12/2014 by Sharon Shahzad


Little doubt remains that the future of networking will be defined by software, but market-watchers warn Cisco is missing this move.
Cisco’s hardware forms the backbone of most enterprise networks around the world. But this world is changing and many buyers no longer see compute, storage and networking as distinct silos.

The demise of this era has been hastened not only by the cloud, but by big data, mobile and social media. The future of networking is unknown, but little doubt remains that it will be defined by software, and market-watchers say this is a transition that Cisco, with its vast worldwide estate and vested interests, is missing.

Network buyers should think about how big suppliers protect their vested interests when considering buying a network solution from one of them – whether that supplier is Cisco, HP, Juniper, Avaya or a similar-sized operation.

Advocates of a new approach to networking say the basic architecture has not changed since the early 1990s, and it is unrealistic for this to continue. In a recent blog post, Dell’Oro Group analyst Alan Weckel wrote that every dollar of revenue earned by an incumbent network supplier will have to be earned all over again as customers move away from their solutions and decide that upgrading speeds no longer counts as upgrading their network.

It is perhaps unsurprising that more and more buyers are starting to inspect alternative suppliers. Gartner research director Andrew Lerner says tyre-kicking is an apt metaphor for software-defined networks in the mainstream. He says people are interested but, at a session in the US in June 2014, analysts found many were waiting for increased marketing around the concept from the legacy network owners, especially Cisco.

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