Cisco buddies up

Cisco may be a monolithic network player, but it still needs partners to make its increasingly ambitious vision a reality. NME looks at some of the key tie-ups the vendor has in the enterprise space.

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By  Administrator Published  April 1, 2007

Last month NME reported on Cisco's giant Networkers event, held earlier this year in Cannes; but Cisco itself is only half the story - the rest is down to its partners.

The networking giant's grand vision - currently of ‘human networks' and IP in everything - only goes so far before someone else's technology or system comes into play. Cisco's choice of partners for its Networkers event reveals a lot about where the vendor sees itself going - and what it has up its sleeve for users.

To start off, the partners included the fairly obvious - but critical - cabling companies. So critical, in fact, that two structured cabling providers - Systimax and Panduit - came in as platinum sponsors of the event. Both were clearly very keen to shed any vestiges of the "it's just wires" school of thought which can still plague the structured cabling industry.

Systimax's approach - aside from giving away free beverages on its stand - came in two main prongs: technology and fashion. Technology came in the form of Systimax's iPatch system - the latest refinement of the vendor's intelligent auto-sensing network patching system.

The sales pitch for iPatch is simple - by reducing the complexity and confusion of the average patching panel, by identifying and logging which port is patched to which, the system cuts down time and mistakes, and also allows a large degree of remote control and configuration.

"An IT manager may get a request to make a change or add a new connection - he or she may be doing multiple other jobs, but can go to a PC and send a work order to the iPatch system. Then a less-skilled IT professional can go and carry out the work order - freeing up the often very expensive IT manager from these tasks," explains Ciaran Forde, managing director for the Middle East, Pakistan and Africa at Systimax.

"Intelligent patching is a trend which has really taken off in emerging markets, such as the Middle East - it's extremely strong in Saudi Arabia, for example. But in Dubai, intelligent patching started well, but has now been pushed to the side of the agenda - projects such as Dubai Internet City were early adopters, but projects now are more focused on standard solutions delivered in the short term," comments Forde on the prospects for systems such as iPatch in the Middle East, a region he says used to be first with new technology deployments.

The other side of Systimax's assault on the market is its snappily-named VisiPatch 360 system. Another patching system, although without built-in intelligence, Systimax is promoting VisiPatch as the high-design sports car of the structured cabling world.

Eschewing the traditional RJ45-style connectors, VisiPatch uses custom connectors which Systimax says increases the maximum density of patch panels. The system also moves the cable to the rear of the connector, presenting a neat set of wire-free connectors at the front of the panel, giving room for usable labelling of each connector.

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