Imitation is the best form of flattery

Cisco's competitors are acknowledging the company's role in developing network standards, and industry training courses by...

Cisco's competitors are acknowledging the company's role in developing network standards, and industry training courses by producing products with Cisco look-alike management features.

They hope that by offering routers and switches with Cisco-style interfaces, they can persuade IT directors that a mix-and-match or best-of-breed approach will not increase management complexity.

Users rely on command line interfaces (CLIs) to configure and manage their networks and most prefer the familiar Cisco approach, according to Tony Haigh, principal consultant at telecoms and IT consultancy Mason Group. "Network management and familiar CLIs are key for users," he said.

With users preferring the CLIs they are accustomed to, Cisco's rivals have come to the conclusion that it makes sense for them to provide "Cisco-like" router and switch managment.

Kevin Barnes, business development director at Cisco rivalADTRAN, said that users prefer the CLIs they have been trained on. "It is possible for suppliers to imitate the format and functionsof the CLI of Cisco products to a certain degree, without infringing copyright."

Andy Palmer, Foundry Networks European vice-president and general manager, said, "Our CLIs are 'Cisco-like', so training is minimal and the risks lower than adopting a non-Cisco solution."

Bob Honour, 3Com solutions marketing manager, said, "3Com's user interfaces are similar inlook and feel to those of marketleading applications, so IT departments can leverage theirinvestment in past training."

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