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Why I Hate Open Source Routing

Why is it that perfectly sane, intelligent, and bright journalists get boinked when it comes to open source technology? Mention Firefox and they interpret 10 percent marketshare as market dominance. They sing the praises of Asterisk not stopping to think...

Why is it that perfectly sane, intelligent, and bright journalists get boinked when it comes to open source technology? Mention Firefox and they interpret 10 percent marketshare as market dominance. They sing the praises of Asterisk not stopping to think that Asterisk's VoIP penetration is a pimple on Nortel's, Cisco's, or Avaya's you know what. The most recent example of "open source dementia" set in on Friday when Business 2.0's Om Malik broke the story about Vyatta, the startup developing enterprise routers for mid-size business and small-offices based on the XORP open source routing project.

Om speculated that the startup would undermine Cisco's routing sales. The company is using the XORP open source routing project to deliver routers for midsize businesses and remote offices, a $4 billion market, notes Om. Networking Pipeline's Preston Graila went even further to predict that XORP could lead to the demise of any vendor selling "high-margin networking hardware."

Now I've got tremendous respect for both Om and Preston. They're witty. They're funny. They've got a great handle on consumer VoIP. I also think XORP is a fantastic effort. Back at IT Architect (then Network Magazine) I helped write what was perhaps the first story on XORP.

But thinking that XORP will conquer the enterprise in our life time is pure poppycock. Business today is looking for more than a router. It's looking for networking architectures that involve routing, but also employ other technologies, such as security, switching wireless, or voice.

IT likes Cisco largely because it can present a soup-to-nuts solution that fits in with their existing environment. While that's true to the extreme with Cisco a similar argument can be made with other leading networking vendors, such as Juniper, Avaya, Nortel, or Checkpoint. Each of them can present holistic solutions that transcend a given product.

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