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Are There Problems Ahead for Cisco?

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Because Cisco products are not quickly evolving into simple-to-install and configure network components, Cisco is becoming vulnerable to competition. How can they stop the downfall?
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How easy is it to operate a Cisco network? Talk to my high-speed ISP, Comcast. It took more than a month to straighten out its network when it upgraded its Cisco routers. Network monitoring and management is a continuous and daunting task for Cisco-based networks. This is simply wrong for Cisco networks to evolve into more complex entities. Increased complexity makes Cisco-based networks expensive to install, operate, and maintain because high-cost, Cisco-certified network engineers are needed to install, configure, and run such networks.

IBM In the 60s and 70s

This increasing complexity could be imposed complexity; for example, the approach IBM used with its mainframe computers in the 60s and 70s to stifle competition. IBM's Job Control Language (JCL), Systems Network Architecture (SNA), and complex 3270 terminals all combined made it mandatory to hire highly paid system programmers. Configuring and maintaining the SNA networking software was especially daunting. IBM provided several network control programs that could be used individually or in combination, including Basic Telecommunications Access Method (BTAM), Telecommunications Access Method (TCAM), and Virtual Telecommunications Access Method (VTAM). These programs worked with more than one version of IBM's operating systems. The networking focus of the 70s was to support terminals accessing transaction-oriented database systems, such as those used in airline and hotel reservations.

Almost every enterprise using SNA and IBM mainframe computers had a staff of system programmers working around the clock to operate and maintain their IBM mainframe computers and their supporting network. This may have been all that was possible to do, given the state of the art at the time—but I think not. If IBM had focused on making it simpler to operate its computers and networks, the need for expensive system programmers would have been greatly reduced. Many system programmers were former IBM employees. These system programmers were continuously trained on IBM gear, and they were especially protective of their specialized knowledge because it was the key to their high-paying job. If anyone stepped back and saw how overly complex IBM and other manufacturers were making the operation of their mainframe computers, they would have looked for a simpler and less-costly solution. This happened as networks moved to TCP/IP.

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