The Cisco Lock-In
Kamo Power selects Juniper Networks
Kamo Power, is an electricity provider serving 17 co-ops in northeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Missouri. Kamo asked Cisco to help it build an access control infrastructure. Kamo had recently spent a half-million dollars on Extreme Networks' switches, but if the co-op went with Cisco's NAC, "Cisco was saying they'd have to rip them out," says Robert Lemm, Kamo's IS supervisor. Juniper's UAC turned out to be more adaptable to Kamo's existing networking infrastructure.
 
Juniper Routers
Juniper Network Routers
Why do people pick Juniper routers over Cisco? Juniper Network's approach is to produce equipment that conforms to industry standards. One example is its Unified Access Control suite. UAC 2.0 provides access control security using networking components that adhere to the Trusted Network Connect standard from the Trusted Computing Group. Juniper and Trusted Computing standards-based technology appeals to customers because of the flexibility it offers when buying the switches, policy-enforcement servers, and other components needed to assemble best-of-breed solutions. The NAC framework provided by Cisco Systems, requires Cisco gear almost exclusively. While NAC users can choose their own policy server and pick end-point health-checking software from vendors such as Altiris, McAfee, Microsoft, and Symantec, when it comes to the switches, routers, and access server, which enforces the decision to grant or deny access based on a company's admission policies, in the Cisco NAC framework, all must come from Cisco. Cisco is ignoring Trusted Computing's proposed standard and is leveraging its relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft, however, sees potential in Trusted Network Connect and has said they will be compatible with it as well. That's a solid endorsement for Juniper's approach. While Cisco is big enough to take on Trusted Network Connect's backers by itself, resistance to IT industry standards has a way of alienating customers. While Cisco and Juniper are now sitting around the same IETF table, work has barely begun on even the requirements document. Moreover, one of the co-chairs on the committee is a Cisco executive who has no incentive to see an IETF standard emerge in a timely manner since Cisco's current proprietary strategy generates revenue through expensive Cisco IOS upgrades from a captive customer base. (See The Cisco Lock-in on left side bar)
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