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Vyatta: Beating Cisco with open networks

Cisco may well be paving the way for an open-source competitor by making CIOs comfortable with open source.

Vyatta, the open-source networking company, has been turning on the heat lately against Cisco, the networking giant. Even as Cisco expands beyond its networking base with collaboration products, Vyatta's sole focus remains beating Cisco network performance at rock-bottom prices.

And yet, as called out in a recent TechTarget article, Vyatta's biggest obstacle may well be Cisco's strong brand:

Tony Iams, an analyst with Rye Brook, N.Y.-based Ideas International, said the networking market continues to grow, but Vyatta faces a challenge because Cisco has such a strong brand name, and companies are reluctant to gamble with networks because they are so critical to operations.

"Open source can be disruptive with a cheaper product," Iams said. "But Vyatta has to overcome a lot of skepticism and reassure customers that they aren't sacrificing quality."

Here's a suggestion of how to do just that: remind CIOs that the world's most demanding network (aka "The Internet") runs open source, and that even Cisco is boosting its network product line with open source-powered routers. If it's good enough for the Web, and good enough for the top network equipment vendor powering that Web, maybe Vyatta isn't such a risk, after all?

With over 20,000 downloads per month, a number that is dramatically higher than Vyatta was seeing in early 2008, Vyatta seems poised to do well through the financial downturn. The ironic thing is that as Cisco pushes more of its products to Linux, it may actually end up seeding the market...for Vyatta.