- IBM In the 60s and 70s
- Think PCs
- Then, There Was Novell
- TCP/IP Networks
- Product and Technology Evolution
Product and Technology Evolution
Initially, all technical products are complex and not completely and accurately designed. Unforeseen operating problems make technical products' designs incomplete. The initial technical products' design must be flexible, and must permit manual configuration to overcome these unforeseen problems. Complex technology systems such as the space shuttle and the B-2 bomber illustrate this. It has taken years to ferret out the operating problems and resolve them in these complex systems. Because it is almost impossible in any complex system to determine ahead of time what operating problems will arise, the flexibility to reconfigure the hardware and software to overcome these problems is a vital part of new products. This is "the-best-laid-plans-oft-go-astray" problem. In the evolving Internet and TCP/IP networks, the need for flexible router design has been very important.
However, once networks are implemented and common problems become known, network components must be redesigned to automatically identify and solve these problems. In short, network components must get simpler as time goes on to be effective. Is this happening with Cisco's routers? It doesn't seem so. The certification program for Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) make Cisco and its support training organizations lots of money. They also produce technical professionals that have a vested interest in promoting Cisco products. This is a win-win situation for Cisco. But is it? Cisco Internet and TCP/IP router products are beginning to resemble the IBM SNA networking products that dominated networking during the 70s and early 80s. SNA products domination ended in part due to their increasing complexity and high cost of support. The same can happen to Cisco products, unless they become easier to network effectively.
A certain level of complexity and manual configuration is needed in Internet routers because of the newer and more complex VoIP and video tasks they are asked to perform. IPv6 design also mandates some level of complexity as IPv6 networking moves to maturity. But is this complexity too much? Internet and IP network components must be designed to automatically configure themselves to operate properly and to provide maximum performance. Cisco's products are vulnerable to products that dynamically install, reconfigure, and optimize their performance without manual intervention of any sort. Without such products, the Internet could become the expensive SNA network of the future.