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CIO  February 2018

CIO February 2018

Subject:

Re: Cisco or Aruba?

From:

Michael Kohlman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 11:12:15 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (148 lines)

Judith.

I've done both over the course of my career.  In 2007-2009 I led the product
selection and migration for a global operation commercial operation (about
16 main locations worldwide, another 12 or so small offices) from HP
switches to a nearly end-to-end Cisco network infrastructure (f5's were
selected for the WAN border and DMZ) and here a Saint Joseph's consolidated
around HP/Aruba off of a mishmash of equipment (with Sonicwall's at the WAN
border and DMZ).

The short answer is I don't think either solution would be "wrong".  Quick
takes:

Cisco Strengths:

If you are going to do an on-premise VoIP solution as well, especially if
you are going to do true unified communications (email/VoIP/video) Cisco is
still very hard to beat from an integrated management standpoint.  After the
migration for the global org was complete we were able to consolidate from
roughly 24 FTE's scattered around the world covering specific specialties
(phone system, video conferencing systems, LAN and WiFi management) to about
8 FTE's (6 at out headquarters, one in Ireland, and one in Brisbane)
reliability jumped about two orders of magnitude and customer support
improved by at least one order.  It’s hard to get that kind of ROI in a
piecemeal solution and while HP/Aruba has improved a lot in the last few
years it still isn't operating at the level Cisco does.

The Management Software Ecosystem is far better.  The different in options
and consistency in the software monitoring and tools as well as the
relatively easier ability to find network people who know Cisco tools was
actually one of the deciding factors in the corporate move from HP to Cisco.

TAM Support from Cisco was leagues better than HP.  People mileage may vary
on this but in every instance where I did a project with Cisco, the Cisco
Technical Account Managers and support people acted like true partners in
getting things done and solving challenges.  HP didn't even come close to me
in respect, indeed in most cases myself and my past teams really got the
impression that it was all about the sale.  Having said 3rd party HP
resellers like CDW generally did a decent job filling that gap.

Cisco weaknesses:

$$$.  The multimillion Cisco deployment?  Flat-out 25% more expensive on the
Hardware/Software side.  We closed that gap to about 10% after we finished
the operational phase and reallocated FTEs, but Cisco costs more, that
generally don't apologize for it, and especially compared to the HP
educational discounts) they should be looked on as a premium product.

They don’t always work and play well with others.  On the few occasion were
my past Teams ran into an odd compatibility issue between Cisco and other
products (Dell comes to mind) expect a whole lot of finger-pointing and
procrastination in getting a resolution.  On one occasion involving Cisco
switches and Dell M1000 Blade systems it took some very high-level threats
to get any movement, which is time and effort that no IT Leader wants to
have to expend.

HP/Aruba Strengths:

Cost.  Even in the commercial world, the difference between the HP solution
we looked at vs Cisco was about 25%.  Given the educational discounts we saw
a Saint Joe that gap was even more dramatic.

Reliability.  HP (switches especially) are robust and in most cases they
carry a lifetime replacement warranty.  TCO on the hardware side over a
period of 5 years or more could be about half of a similar Cisco solution,
especially in your campus as environmental challenges (power, heat,
humidity, etc..)  While somewhat anecdotal on my part, Cisco stuff tends to
like "cleaner" environments if you want low failure rates.

Switch Management U/I and software is much simpler to learn and educate IT
staff on.  While the software doesn't have the ultimate level of integration
and flexibility that Cisco has it's easy to learn, east to manage, and one
can generally get by with less overhead from an FTE cost standpoint.

3rd part support from companies like CDW is very good.  CDW (especially CDW
government/ed) know the product pretty well and their techs do generally
cost less than Cisco.

HP/Aruba Weaknesses:

Harder to get quality direct HP support (especially free support) as HP will
tend to "punt" to one of their resellers for those type of challenges (who
like to charge).  3rd part support can run more hot/cold that direct vendor
expertise.

Less Human-Talent depth in the ecosystem.  Most hard core network gurus I've
met and hired tend to like and work on Cisco, so that needs to be planned
for in any hiring decisions.

Less consistency when it comes to integrating multiple infrastructure
solutions such as VoIP, Video, Firewalls, etc.  (and Cisco's DNA line of
products are really broadening that unified ecosystem management gap, it's
an incredibly strong product if you are doing large/complex solutions).

You will end up doing a bit more "best of breed" product selection (with all
the good and the bad that comes with that) in an HP ecosystem.

My Two Cents:

Honestly having done both, recommending one is a difficult choice.  If money
were not in my top 3 concerns and wanted a great ecosystem and scalability
I'd probably choose Cisco again.  If I were doing a smaller deployment in
Higher Ed (especially if it is one or a just a few campus locations) I'd
likely choose HP/Aruba.



Michael Edward Kohlman
Chief Information Officer
Saint Joseph’s College | 1027 South College Avenue | Rensselaer, IN  47978 |
219-866-6000 ext. 21



-----Original Message-----
From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Judith Tabron
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [CIO] Cisco or Aruba?

Hi all,

I'm curious if people are using Aruba switches these days, either at the
edge or at the core? I know "no one ever got fired for buying Cisco", but I
am just learning about where this is at in larger or smaller colleges and
universities where the price differential really matters.

I'm also curious if anyone's really seen a performance difference in high
traffic locations.

Thanks for any info you'd like to share on or off list,

Judith

---

Judith Tabron, Ph.D., CISSP
Vice President, Information Resources and Technology Rowan University
[log in to unmask]   |   856-256-5825

**********
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent
Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

**********
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/discuss.

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