Networking: Best-of-Breed Vs. Single Vendor

Should you take a multi-vendor approach to your network or is a homogeneous network the best bet?

Most IT infrastructure professionals have an opinion on whether it's better to implement and maintain a best-of-breed, multi-vendor network infrastructure  or to take a single vendor approach. While opinions are great, choosing the right solution for a particular environment is often far more complicated than many make it out to be.

In some areas of a network infrastructure, homogeneity is completely legitimate. There are plenty of cases where organizations require a more customized approach in order to squeeze as much value as possible out of an investment. Industry vertical, application type, employee access needs, support/maintenance competency, and data security impact networking requirements, and   network architects might want to customize their networks to better fit their particular environment.

Much of the decision-making process boils down to a few core questions. First, do you truly need a best-of-breed network from a security and functionality perspective or are you able to sacrifice a bit to lower complexity and cost? Second, are your network architects capable of designing a network that optimizes each and every component from multiple vendors to get the desired added-value in a reasonable amount of time? Third, is your IT network support staff capable of supporting a multi-vendor network? And finally, have IT decision makers formed a strong opinion on potential risks of vendor lock-in?

We're going to look at eight different reasons why you would want to choose best-of-breed components over a single-vendor solution or vice versa. Our goal is to help you fully understand the benefits of both so you can better make the right decision for your specific organization.

(Image: catherine_jones/iStockphoto)

Learn best practices and strategies for building and managing an enterprise network in the Networking Track at Interop Las Vegas this spring. Don't miss out! Register now for Interop, May 2-6, and receive $200 off.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights