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Is it smarter to specialize in a few trusted network vendors or to diversify?

Is it smarter to specialize in a few trusted network vendors or to diversify?

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I don't see Cisco going anywhere, and they have a wide array of networking products -- they're a little bit more expensive, but I feel it's reasonable. We've done a lot of work with other network vendors, but every time Cisco has the feature sets and technologies we need to accommodate changing corporate needs without having to replace a lot of equipment.

In general, being specialized in one vendor's technology is extremely valuable. There's a lot to learn about Cisco and all that their equipment can do. It doesn't hurt to diversify your vendor partners a little – in case a customer's needs may not necessarily call for Cisco – so having Cisco and a few other network vendors that you use here and there would probably be a safe bet. For 95% of the time, you'll want to specialize in Cisco and just use their products because they're not going anywhere, and they're powerful and most importantly they work. Even if something does happen to Cisco, they have such a huge user base for all their hardware and software that a lot of the systems are going to stay the same. Too much network infrastructure is Cisco based, and to have that completely change just doesn't make sense, no matter who the new vendor is.

This was first published in March 2008

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