Cisco: This old dog's tricks

Cisco Systems' at it again. The company recently announced several Ethernet in the First Mile-ready products for its Catalyst 4000 line of LAN switches.

These prestandard products are right in line with Cisco's seemingly bullish pursuit to dominate the Ethernet MAN and WAN markets.

It's no secret that Cisco's already implemented Spatial Reuse Protocol (SRP) technology is at the heart of the Resilient Packet Ring (RPR) debacle. Despite recent attempts to rearrange that technology to make it more "likeable," Cisco has been accused of creating conflict so SRP will eventually become the de facto RPR standard.

Cisco's tricks aren't anything new. The company also released Gigabit Ethernet gear four months ahead of the standard back in 1998 - gear that was described as being piecemeal and low-performance. The release, cited as being a defensive move, took place nearly two years after its purchase of Gigabit Ethernet start-up Granite Systems.

The company's fervor can certainly be admired. The industry has Cisco to thank for Multi-protocol Label Switching, a traffic engineering tool that arose in 1996 as an offshoot of the company's Tag Switching protocol.

However, its tactics can be scrutinized. By prebuilding the EFM market, Cisco is able to boost its own profit margins and flood the market with its own gear well ahead of any standard EFM products.

The industry may well need this EFM standard, but with Cisco's recent moves, it's apparent that the company's heading for the de facto standard route could trivialize the EFM standard once it's complete.

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