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Open Source vs Proprietary Routing Rumble

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LAS VEGAS. Some Interop sessions have more drama than others. A session with open source routing vendor Vyatta squaring off against giants Cisco and Juniper, provided both drama and humor as the trio aggressively debated the merits of their respective technologies.

For Dave Roberts, VP strategy and marketing at Vyatta, the session was all about calling out the proprietary vendors on price and choice. Both Cisco and Juniper responded in kind during often heated exchanges that had the audience laughing and gasping at the same time.

Jonathan Davidson, Director of marketing Edge routing business unit at Cisco explained that Cisco has high availability features that software only solutions like Vyatta cannot provide. Vyatta is an open source Linux based routing solution.

Roberts then challenged Davidson to say how much it cost to get the high availability features. Initially Davidson did not provide a price but eventually stated that the high availability features were available on a box costing $35,000.

"The networking market now is like the mainframe market of the 1960's with custom hardware," Roberts said. "We need a new world that is more flexible and low cost leveraging off the shelf components."

Cisco's Davidson responded that hardware is a differentiator and that off the shelf consumer hardware isn't good enough. He argued that it is important to talk about how hardware is made as it affect the quality and reliability of a product.

"You can buy a 10 cent part that will last 18 monts or the 40 cent part that will last years, at Cisco we choose the 40 cent part," Davidson said.

Roberts responded that he's just trying to offer choice.

"Vyatta is all about flexibility, you can run it on the cheapest Taiwanese whitebox you can find but also on the highest quality IBM or HP chassis that has all the expensive components," Roberts said. "You will pay more for the high end chassis but the choice is yours. It is incorrect for Juniper and Cisco to call us the big bogeyman and that it's all just a PC. It's about what you're willing to pay to get."

Photo: (left to right) Amir Khan, Senior Director Product Line Management, Juniper,Dave Roberts, Vice President Strategy and Marketing, Vyatta, Jonathan Davidson, Director of Marketing, Edge Routing Business Unit, Cisco. Credit: Sean Michael Kerner

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