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Cutting through the hype at Neworld + Interop

It's that time of year again. In the technology world, early May means Networld + Interop, Las Vegas, packets and protocols. The hype in networking hasnÂ’t changed much this past year. I'm here because networking vendors are adding more and more security to their products but there is also plenty of buzz regarding wireless, application-layer networking, IP-telephony, and WAN acceleration. Walk from booth to booth and this is the geek-speak you'll hear.

All of this is cool, networking folks tend to be more academic than others and I do enjoy a good technical discussion. In networking however, there is only one relevant question: How will you compete with Cisco?

Ask this question and you quickly separate the business folks from the posers. F5 figured out how to compete with Cisco very effectively with an application-layer networking platform. Likewise for Juniper with honking backbone routers.

The best competitors pick their niche and attack Cisco where it is weakest, innovative technology. As networking morphs from core switching and routing to layered services, Cisco may lose the war one battle at a time.

Of course, this strategy is nothing new and Cisco still owns enterprise networking in spite of the fact that large companies are forever looking for a viable number 2. Has anything changed? Stay tuned, more from Vegas soon.