May 16

How to select network equipment?

How do I select network equipment?

Over the years I have found that some network gear just doesn’t fit the need, so why was it used? I have found four reasons to be true, Political, Religion, Ignorance about the product or networking in general, and Lack of Time.

I have been burnt many times by having the wrong product in a location that could not fulfill the needs of the network. Due to these life experiences, I do my best to recommend network equipment that will fulfill the needs and not blow the budget.

Here are my requirements.

1. Fulfills the technical requirements
– Was it built to fulfill the need?
2. Fulfills the financial requirements
– Does the price compare to other vendors or products?
3. Simple to use and troubleshoot
– I shouldn’t have to engineer my network around this product.
– Any level of staff should be able to learn and troubleshoot the product with little training.
– Are there tools built into the product to troubleshoot things like High CPU, QOS, etc…
4. Keeps me in bed at night
– Can there be an equipment failure with out end users being impacted?
– Can a piece of equipment be replaced by a lower skilled person, like a fay tray or a power supply?
5. No over-subscription
– I hate over-subscribed network switches. I have yet to find a product that will tell you when an ASIC was over run.
– I always push for full line rate on all of the ports on the blade. If I get this, I’ll never over run the equipment.

If you have never looked at multiple vendors to fulfill a need, I suggest you do the next time you are in need of network equipment. Every time I sit in on a meeting from a new vendor, I learn something. Some times I find features that sound great, but never knew I wanted. I learn about the architecture of the hardware of each vendor. I wander why some have more chips on the boards, or one vendor is full line rate, why isn’t the other, etc….

I have worked with Cisco, Scientific Atlanta, Foundry/Brocade, Riverbed, and F5. I have yet to find a single vendor that fulfills my requirements in every part of the network. I enjoy fulfilling the needs of the network with the best in class products. This gives me an opportunity to continue to improve my knowledge and provide the best performance for my customers.

My requirements don’t always get fulfilled, it happens.

How do you select your network equipment?
What do you look for in a vendor?
Have you ever asked one vendor for a feature that you learned another vendor has?

Please let me know!!!