In discussion with a client recently about possible use cases for Cumulus Networks and an interesting persecutive came up. A half-joking solution was to define an network operating system standard on Cumulus Linux. As a result, the purchasing process would state that any hardware would be considered provided that it was certified and supported by Cumulus Linux. In purchasing parlance, defining a software standard is acceptable where a defining a hardware standard is not.
Crazy ? Radical ?
My client has some unique requirements around keeping costs as low as possible. When purchasing network equipment, it is purchased with 3 years of maintenance, installation, cables and modules as a full spec included in the full price. This approach highlights the less obvious costs of support contracts, modules, “approved” cables and creates an apples-to-apples comparison for total cost which excludes many popular vendors.
One problem is that many suppliers are repeatedly attempting to “sell” products that simply do not match the price or service profile. Since Corporate policy states that any response must be considered and evaluated this leads to a massive waste of time in meetings with sales people who have no chance to win the business. Their equipment is expensive and highly improbable to be awarded the contract.
A half-joking solution was to define an “network operating system standard” on Cumulus Linux. As a result, the purchasing process would state that any hardware would be considered provided that it was certified and supported by Cumulus Linux. In purchasing parlance, defining a software standard is acceptable where a defining a hardware standard is not. Cumulus Linux is well priced and support is reasonable.
The result ? Less time in pointless sales calls and less purchasing reviews because all products would be at the lower end of the price scale. At the same time, software consistency is achieved. We even discussed removing hardware maintenance and opting for “self sparing” plan by purchasing extra assets (this didn’t work out when we did “napkin numbers”).
Crazy ? Maybe. But there is a certain elegance to it. Ten years ago, it was common for companies to implement Cisco EIGRP because we all knew that this created a Cisco-only solution. At the time, Cisco was the only company making feature rich products that had decent support when compared with competitors. Its the same idea just using a different trigger.
I wonder if it would catch on for some customers ?