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I have a little question, I'm actually studing IT in France, and when looking on alternative on the very [...] very expensive Cisco equipments, I've found Juniper and DELL PowerConnect pretty attractive on features and price, but I rarely see something else than the classics Cisco/LinkSys, HP Procurve and Netgear..

Why it's so rare to find those switch ? They looks really great but... I've never seen any Juniper or Powerconnect...

Why do enterprises stick with the expensive Cisco ?

I've tried to find how to buy both, it's quite easy with PowerConnect, everything is on the DELL website, but it looks it's very hard to find Juniper equipments in France :(

Thank you !

EDIt: For those who don't know JunOS, here is a video: http://www.exiletv.com/Podcast/videos/junos1.mov , It's really Amazing !

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closed as primarily opinion-based by TheCleaner, Falcon Momot, mdpc, EEAA, Ward Jan 8 at 4:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Cisco is the Microsoft of the networking world. –  romandas May 14 '10 at 14:18

9 Answers 9

up vote 6 down vote accepted

'everyone' knows cisco... it's [probably] easier to find consultant who has ccna/similar than one who has experience with junos, dell and all other extreme networks/foundry, etc.

i don't have traumatic experience form work with powerconnect - does the trick for me. and when it comes to juniper [but routers, not switches] - well, they carry quite a portion of internet traffic - i'd dare to say that they have bigger market share in carriers' core than cisco [or maybe huawei has already eaten most of the cake?]

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+1, There are most Cisco consultants than any other network gear. More consultants = Lower consulting fees = More business for Cisco. –  Chris S Apr 30 '10 at 22:27
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I have had a semi-traumatic experience with PowerConnect. At this point, I would not use them as any more than dumb switches. –  kmarsh May 12 '10 at 13:07
    
Although PowerConnect OS and Cisco IOS are very very similar, some of the features have different names, and because they are so strong on training everyone understand's Cisco's nomenclature. Dell haven't made a good go of translating. Dell's PowerConnect documentation is also pretty poor - one of those things where you need to know what they call something before you can find the documentation about it... If they sorted all that out, I am sure they would have a better market for their products. –  dunxd Nov 4 '10 at 10:28

we had a powerconnect environment that was not reliable, scrapped it, and went to a chassis-style cisco. haven't had any problems afterwards. Dell could not figure out what the issue was - it was always something other than the switch stack. but the switches would reboot spontaneously, or machines would drop off the net, etc. don't know anything about juniper.

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I have had a lot of great experiences with HP ProCurve. They have a great warranty. I just had a 5 year old switch replaced without question for a burned out fan... –  xeon Apr 30 '10 at 22:45
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Yep, HP Procurve warranty is awesome :) –  Kedare Apr 30 '10 at 23:31

Cisco has built a reputation of reliability and trustworthiness with business and enterprise. That, combined with the fact that they're one of (if not the single) largest enterprise network equipment producer makes them the first choice for business. You'll be hard pressed to find an AS that doesn't have some Cisco equipment in it. Furthermore, Cisco is a pioneer of network technology; it was their IGRP that pushed for innovation in routing protocols.* That, in short, is why Cisco is the biggest and (in most cases), the best.*

*Personal opinion

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I think part of the reason Cisco is so popular besides the reliability of equipment is that they have built a culture of network education around their products. Besides the certifications, there are many books, some published by Cisco itself. Although the education is based around Cisco equipment, they make sure it is more about networking itself and how it actually works. This, in my mind, makes their network education more classy and valuable to people because if you know the theory you could go learn other technologies with out too much difficulty.

People ending up learning from these books and learning how to use Cisco equipment as part of it, even though other technologies are very similar, people stick with what they know. So a result of this culture of education, Cisco ends up being what people know, as pQd said.

Also, they have lots of marketing, at least these days. When I mention Cisco to people who don't work with technology, they all go "Oh ya, those commercials about how they make the Internet run."

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As a side note, I have been perfectly happy with my power-connect switches. The cli is very similar to that of Cisco's IOS as well. –  Kyle Brandt Apr 30 '10 at 22:09
    
The cisco documentation and education adds tremendous value to the networking field. Even if you're working with non-cisco stuff, the documentation on how protocol X works is still useful. –  chris May 12 '10 at 15:43

No one ever got fired for buying Cisco.

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and ibm and oracle... –  pQd Apr 30 '10 at 23:03
    
@pQd - I'm pretty sure if I purchased a 4-processor Intel Oracle license my boss would fire me (considering we're an SQL Server shop) –  Mark Henderson Nov 2 '10 at 21:46

Cisco is what they are because the make this simple promise:

"You write us a big fat check and we'll solve your problem." It doesn't really matter what the "problem" is, if it is related in some vague way to networking, cisco will have a solution to the problem.

No other company can really make that same universal promise. Juniper comes close, but most other "networking" or "security" companies solve fewer problems than actually exist.

They're not the best, they're certainly not the cheapest or the most reliable, but they have the resources to make whatever issues you may have go away.

There are likely singe purpose companies that make domain specific solutions to some subset of your problems, but if you're a company focused on making widgets, you're really "best" off just letting your cisco account rep tell you how to solve whatever problem of the week you may be facing. If you stay under the cisco umbrella, you have one support number, one sales rep, one guy to yell at, and one big ass check to write every year. Everything is simpler.

If you chose "best of breed" for every situation, you wind up with a much more complex environment to support, and you're more reliant on the person who choses "best of breed".

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+1 "You write us a big fat check and we'll solve your problem." –  Chris S Nov 2 '10 at 17:42

Kedare,

To actually answer your first question about finding Juniper switches to buy.

The reason it is difficult is first Juniper are new to the switch market (been in networking a long time but not switches) so none really on the second hand market yet.

Second the channel sales model Juniper and Cisco use are a little different so big domestic distributors do not tend to supply Juniper kit and those that do are not really allowed to supply to a retailer only reseller so the focus in on business sales. Cisco do a similar thing but do allow for distribution to sell to retailers and also they have a lot of kit on the second hand market due to the time in the market place.

As to why pick Cisco over others? Cisco is one of the longest running network switch provider in the market and at one time provided the only real choice for larger businesses and so may companies got tied in and the cost and time to change a whole network is huge (I know, I have done it for several customers of my employer). Also Cisco have a very big sales team and channel, more resellers sell Cisco in the world so they get into more companies and have a greater global reach.

However the enterprise switching world is changing, HP have acquired 3Com which put them in a very, very strong market position with number of ports sold also 3Com and own the China market, which is the fastest growing IT market in the world. This gives HP a good chance of challenging Cisco for the first time. Juniper are also the fastest growing enterprise switch vendor last year (according to Gartner) so are becoming a lot bigger.

So enterprises do not just use Cisco and some very big very demanding companies find that Cisco does not do what they require e.g New York Stock Exchange use Juniper.

If you want to learn Juniper, go and learn JUNOS you can buy a cheap J router or do a search or Juniper Olive.

Andy

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The Dell Powerconnect answer is easy. Dell does not provide the same level of support as, well, anyone else. I kept an identified and confirmed Powerconnect bug report alive at Dell for over a year until they admitted they would never fix it.

Juniper is not so rare in my experience.

HP makes a good product but not all advanced features interoperate so well with other brands.

With Cisco, the default may not be perfect inter-brand interoperability, but there are always enough settings to get there. HP and Dell, not so much.

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Cisco is quite pricy, but it's very good stuff. Juniper makes decent stuff, but the anecdotes from people that have both suggest that it's not quite in Cisco's league (in terms of reliability) quite yet.

Dell, well, I've been down their road before and don't have much nice to say about the experience. Had a Dell laptop that was fine, but desktops and servers were all negative experiences. Now, if other people that I know and trust start having success with Dell again, I might give them another shot.

edit

I've got a lot more HP experience now and that's the only way to go as far as I'm concerned. MUCH better pricing than Cisco, better reliability, and easier to manage.

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