Is Cisco Losing in Switching/Routing?

I'll start off by saying, I'm not an analyst.  I'm not going to quote or link you to analytical articles or mention Gartner's Quadrants (oh crap, I just did!).  What I am going to write about, is my personal opinions on where Cisco is going with their data networking in the enterprise, and why.  I do make many generalizations in this post, so please comment on your thoughts.

First off, 4 years ago, Cisco was number 1 in any kind of enterprise switching and routing market (for the most part).  Even though there were other vendors in the industry, you bought Cisco, "just because".  You really bought the name more than anything.  Companies were "used to" Cisco, and there was no desire to change.  Purchasing and Finance departments did not question the high costs, because it was "Cisco".  Much like "IBM" back in the 90's.  The motto "You won't get fired for buying IBM" pertained to Cisco as well.

Now, rewind 3 years ago.  The US was in a state of confusion and disruption.  Recession hit, and Cisco had to cut back on their manufacturing and production lines, as there was no Capital to spend.  However, the recession was not long-lived.  It wasn't very long before capital monies were being spent again.

Cisco had a *VERY* hard time in ramping up their production lines to keep up with the orders, and before long, you had a 3-6 week wait time for common small orders like a 3560 switch or ASA 5510.  It was then, that companies started looking elsewhere temporarily to fill in the current need until Cisco was "up to par" with shipping.

But something happened.  Unexpectedly.  After Cisco ramped their production lines back up to full speed, we started *liking* the other vendors.  We started saying, "You know…. for this price, <vendor> is actually pretty good."  The comparison was on, and people started questioning whether Cisco really was the right vendor for them.

That's what happened to me, anyway, and I'm sure others followed the same suit.  My vendor of choice was Juniper, but it could as well have been the HP Procurves or Arista's line.  We, as an engineering industry, started questioning why we puchased Cisco in the first place.  I took for granted to old CLI interface that had no configuration source control.  But once I saw the Junos "commit/rollback" commands, I was in heaven.  I asked, "Why didn't Cisco ever think of this before?".

The reason?  We never compared Cisco (in a full sense) to other vendors, because we never really looked at them.  We "didn't know what we didn't know"-kind of thing.  Sure, Cisco was innovative and forward thinking, but they never "looked back" and changed the 'old stuff', they just added new stuff.

Now, to be fair, I've heard alot of good things about their Nexus line including their 1000V, but it's too late for me.  I've already learned to love Junos and I'm actively looking at Arista and HP.  I'm still using and maintaining Cisco in my "core" environments, because it's still what I know best, and I can troubleshoot/resolve on Cisco faster than Juniper.  But that is slowly changing.

I'm still very curious on the HP Procurves.  I'm waiting to hear back from HP on some questions and to give me more "specifics" on generic information.  But the bottom line is that Cisco is now held to a higher standard for pricing and features. 

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