Why there will always be a higher rate of major incidents on Cisco based networks

There are two underlying fundamental problems in Cisco based networks that will always cause them to be the cause of a higher rate of major incidents compared to alternative vendors. The problems are related to the high number of features that the vendor shovels into it's code. The higher the count of features, especially those that are unused, the higher the potential for faults. Additionally, unlike JUNOS, IOS does not have a single linear code versioning methodology. This results in deployment and configuration issues. Nearly, 14 years ago, I learnt the benefits of a single linear code versioning methodology from Madge Networks adapter software, called LAN Support Software (LSS). Although, there were ISA, MCA, PCI and EISA adapters they were all supported by the same single version of LAN Support Software. This had a great impact on reducing the rate of major incidents, a lesson which Cisco still needs to learn. These are the benefits of LSS in which IOS has no related equivalence:
  • Largest range of Operating Systems supported in a single release.
  • Single, high performance, ‘UniDrivers’ for PCI and PC Card adapters. This means that for most operating systems, a single driver supports Madge Token-Ring adapters.
  • Microsoft ‘signed & certified’ drivers for Windows XP, 2000, Windows ME and NT4
  • Enhanced server support: NetWare, PCI Hot Plug, Adapter Mirroring
  • Support for legacy OS/2 & DOS NDIS environments
  • Support for Linux, Solaris, HP-UX and MAC OS
  • Upgraded and Updated installation and configuration utilities
  • Supports advanced features of Madge adapters, such as ACPI power management and Wake-On-LAN.
  • Adapter mirroring for Windows and NetWare increasing server resilience and fault tolerance.
Yes, it is token-ring and token-ring is dead, but the lessons learnt are definitely not! In his blog, Tony Rybczynski, of Nortel, writes in a fuller and detailed substantiation of these views:
"Unfortunately, data networkers buy technology based on the Cisco feature list (who have hundreds of features that seldom are used by any given customer) rather than on their feature requirements.
As a result, they pay premium prices, and create unnecessary complexity which can impact performance, security, reliability and TCO.
On reliability alone, it’s no secret that software complexity (multiple versions of IOS, features you don’t use, and resulting config errors) is a major contributor to failures."

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