Historically I have not been a big fan of Interop for a variety of reasons. However Greg Ferro, George Stefanick, Ivan Pepelnjak, and Harvard Business Review IT Director Ken Griffin — to name a few — changed the breakout sessions experience for me. During Greg’s data center network session, he said something that was priceless. He was giving some guidance around refresh cycles and told the audience to not worry about investment protection. It was so refreshing to hear it. I wasn’t the only one nodding my head: Investment protection is hogwash.
Greg made the case that moving to a 3-year replacement cycle changes a customer’s buying and design criteria. Right now, customers have to guess what is going to happen over an 8- to 10-year cycle; this long term guess creates the desire to protect that amount of spending with “investment protection” features. By considering flexibility, growth, and scalability of the network over that period, customers lean towards chassis switches with ports, which can cost 5 to 10 times as much as a pair of 1RU switches with the same type of ports. By selecting chassis switches, Greg says customers have doubled or tripled their project cost.
However on a 3-year replacement cycle, customers can choose right-sized equipment (which is probably a 1RU switch), do less maintenance, and gain faster access to new features. In addition, the risk could be lower. For example if bad decision was made, a company is only stuck with selection for 3 years. Or, the company can choose to replace the network earlier and take smaller hit on capital expense line than if the compay bought chassis switches.