back to article Cisco penta-gone from Pentagon as Aruba rolls in a new net

The Pentagon, the colossal office that serves as the headquarters of the United States’ Department of Defence, plans to install 3,000 new Wi-Fi access points and 150,00-plus wired ethernet ports after turfing out old Cisco kit. Aruba is both the source of news that Cisco’s been given its marching orders, and the supplier of …

  1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Cisco bid for the gig after its incumbent kit was deemed to have reached end-of-life

    That would probably mean 3650/3850.

    Get ready to roll, everyone: CSCvd46008 & CSCvj76259

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Given the port numbers, I would assume they were using the larger chassis switches - considering it is the DoD, likely Cat6500s given that they have finally reached end of sale dates.

      As for the MOSFET issue - it happens, at least Cisco publicise it versus other vendors where you find out the issue when you have to RMA 40% of your inventory in a three year period. Unfortunately design issues happen, particularly with evolving standards such as PoE (at least in its high power forms)

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Cisco Vs Aruba

    I've seen prices for similar Cisco & Aruba solutions. The Cisco solution was eye-wateringly expensive compared to the Aruba one.

    1. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Cisco Vs Aruba

      Cisco list price is always expensive, then you get discounts based on whatever and can see discounts of 80% or more on select stuff.

      Don’t forget everything is licensed now so there are the ongoing license fees now too, plus you can only buy through a reseller so they need their cut.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Cisco Vs Aruba

        The prices I saw from both Aruba & Cisco were not list: They were heavily discounted.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Cisco Vs Aruba

        Cisco discount the hardware but the support price is ALWAYS based on list figures

        It pays to be very careful before signing on the dotted line as to what any ongoing charges might be

    2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Cisco Vs Aruba

      The Cisco solution was eye-wateringly expensive compared to the Aruba one.

      There used to be a time Cisco was expensive but their platform was solid.

      I do not know what is on Chuck's mind right now but squeezing everyone with a buggy platform (software- and hardware-wise) is a sure-fire way to make a lot of enemies.

      3k APs is not really a lot. Even if they are replaced with 9130ax at $2K a pop, that translate to $6m (without discounts).

      3k switches might be slightly higher. But still, way under the $100m mark.

      Chuck wouldn't lose sleep over it.

  3. Evil Harry

    Heard recently about a particularly large company tossing out a Cisco solution because they couldn't make it work despite a large Cisco trained staff including several CCIE's.

    Cisco offered to come in and "fix" it for a large sum of cash and were promptly given their marching orders by C-level executives.

    If they aren't careful, Cisco risk becoming irrelevant as the other vendors are pretty much caught up and breathing them on price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Costly to remove incumbent gear

      The pain of removing a deeply ingrained solution needs to be accounted for when considering alternatives.

      I worked on a global router migration from Cisco to juniper ~10 years ago, an absolute pain, 2 years late, juniper kit end of sale by the time of roll out, constant engineering builds because of bugs and that was just the wan routing., would have been far cheaper with Cisco gear as would have been done 2 years earlier, less business disruption and less wasted engineers time.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Costly to remove incumbent gear

        A lot has changed at Cisco in ten 10 years, very little of it for the better, they're not the rock solid boxes they used to be.

        1. sgp
          Joke

          Re: Costly to remove incumbent gear

          Maybe they can switch out IOS for iOS then.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Costly to remove incumbent gear

        "The pain of removing a deeply ingrained solution needs to be accounted for when considering alternatives"

        An increasing number of formerly "cisco as a religion" enterprises are installing other peoples' kit

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    150,00-plus wired ethernet switches

    Do they really need 150k switches or is it really 150k switch ports ~3125 48 port switches?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 150,00-plus wired ethernet switches

      You need one switch per user, then if they are doing something secret you can switch it off - that's why it's called a switch.

      (Selling to government chapter 1)

  5. Flak

    Congratulations!

    Definitely a coup for HP.

    Migrations can be a headache and difficult, but with the right migration strategy, planning and execution are entirely do-able.

    Having been involved in many large scale, mission critical migrations of live networks and services over the years, I am sure this migration can be pulled off without major disruption.

  6. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Gen X SysInt&Test

    Last millennium I helped build the Cisco Network Management Software. Sorry! Is there still NMS?

    I'm also unclear whether Aruba have better backdoors and trapdoors or if the pentagon has stopped trusting the NSA.

  7. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    I think we all need to step back and look at the bigger picture.

    Aruba is stepping in and replacing the APs and switches. This also means that Aruba will also replace ISE.

    But wait, there's more: Cisco's SD-WAN and SD-Access. The Pentagon is not "sold" on Cisco's flavour of SD-WAN/SD-Access instead choosing HP/Aruba's variety.

    Cisco cannot afford to lose more of these high-profile clients to HP/Aruba.

    1. CaNerdIan

      "This also means that Aruba will also replace ISE."

      TFA stated as much when it said ClearPass was being deployed as part of the solution. Although Aruba will coexist just fine with ISE just as much as Cisco will coexist just fine with ClearPass. ClearPass was a vendor-agnostic product before Aruba acquired them a decade or so ago (as was Airwave).

      But it's not just DODHQ - Aruba is also being widely deployed within the service branches as well (and has been for quite some time). HPE also sells a whole lot of supercomputing to various parts of the US federal government...

      Cisco is making the strategic error of trying to compete on price, which is a race to the bottom every single time. And as others have pointed out, a lot of really long-time Cisco shops (whose incumbency rivals that of several very moldy politicians) are losing deals left and right, not just to Aruba, but also Juniper and some of the smaller players (and every now and the others lose a deal to Cisco, that's just how the game is played - but I've seen more than a few who switched to Cisco come crawling back to their previous vendor, deeply apologetic) - More and more customers have grown tired of Cisco's support licensing model - and in order to try and keep those customers, Cisco practically has to give away the hardware, even if it's below cost.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot, no Huawei?

    Can't believe they didn't consider Huawei if they wanted economic, reliable, stable and scalable solutions.......

    (yes, someone had to say it.... I'll get my coat)

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Wot, no Huawei? Not to mention...

      I guess the Pentagon decided to get rid of the NSA's backdoors.

      Nice weather today, I'll just exit in shirtsleeves.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Wot, no Huawei? Not to mention...

        >I guess the Pentagon decided to get rid of the NSA's backdoors.

        The NSA is probably a bigger enemy to the Pentagon.

        The Chinese aren't a threat to the DoD unless you start a shooting war - the NSA are a threat at the next funding round.

  9. -tim
    Facepalm

    4 sides and a spare

    The Pentagon is an odd place. I went on a tour with a very paranoid friend that I told the expansion joints in the halls were metal plates so they could lock down an area in a second which resulted in him jumping over them for the rest of the tour to much amusement of the tour guide once I explained the odd behavior.

    I knew someone who worked with wiring in that building and when visiting his office, he pointed me to a poster of the different areas of the building and how things were labeled for Army, Navy, AF and required standards for working on each area. The poster included a label for Soviet wiring.

    The space above the drop ceiling on the ground floor is about 6ft (2m) yet is completely full of wires in places and that was long before they considered ethernet let alone switches and wifi.

    Far in the future I expect archaeologist will dig it up and describe it as the highest holy temple to military bureaucracy.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 4 sides and a spare

      >Far in the future I expect archaeologist will dig it up and describe it as the highest holy temple to military bureaucracy.

      Including having twice as many bathrooms. One set for men and women and one set for non-people

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: 4 sides and a spare

        Including having twice as many bathrooms.

        That wasn't even a joke back in the middle of the Cold War.

        It was stated that someone in the Pentagon went b@t-sh1t-crazy and authorized three types of bathrooms: One for male, another for female, and the third was labelled "Navy".

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 4 sides and a spare

          When the Pentagon was built Virginia insisted on separate facilities based for black and white bottoms

  10. Rockets

    HP Procurve

    I used to use HP Procurve switches a lot in my previous job and I really liked working with them and I believe that these became the Aruba switches. The reason we used them was because they were cheaper than Cisco, had a lifetime NBD advanced swap out warranty and free software updates. And they just worked. These days I work with Cisco switches and while I like the Cisco switch lines I don't like the price, dealing with SmartNet and new the software subscription model. Also the cost of genuine SFP's are crazy. Some of the bugs we've hit with the 3850 series in IOS-XE are just gobsmackingly bad, we once upgraded a 3850 stack for it not to support any of the Cisco branded SFP+ modules we had in it after the upgrade.

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