Benefits (and Detriments) of Standardizing Network Equipment in a Global Organization

Leo Bicknell bicknell at
Thu Dec 29 19:11:42 UTC 2016

In a message written on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 01:22:28PM -0500, Valdis.Kletnieks at wrote:
> Say you're doing business in 100 countries, with some stated level of
> possible autonomy for each business unit.

In all honesty, the original question was a poor straw man for multiple

* Basically nobody does business in 100 countries.  Level 3 only claims
  60.  Verizon does claim 150, but a lot of those are rather arms-length
  deals.  Apple has a "presense" in 97 countries.  It's a question about
  perhaps not a unicorn, but a rare albino pony only seen a few times in
  the wild!

* The companies that do business in these countries rarely have "100
  national business units".  The chance that all countries are wholy
  owned subsidiaries created by the corporate parent is zero.  They
  are parterships, co-branding deals, buyouts of existing companies.
  All of which bring baggage that affects the question more than any
  any technical details.

* Because of how these entities come to be, the chance that the network
  contains Vendor's A and B, and corporate gets to dictate anything is
  zero.  The network will have Vendors A-Z, plus a few more.  Legacy
  stuff hidden in corners from 50 different M&A activities.  Multiple
  engineering teams, in multiple locations.

* Technical people never get to decide the level of "autonomy".  A mix
  of local laws, M&A terms, and other business interests will rule.

> Is it better for upper corporate to say "all 100 national business units
> will use vendor A for edge devices and vendor B for routing", or "all 100
> business units shall choose, based on local conditions such as vendor
> support, a standard set of vendors for their operations"?

Which leads to an easy answer.  It's better for upper corporate to
negotiate bulk deals (note I did not say one vendor) and offer standard
solutions to each national BU, so that the engineering does not need to
be repeated 100 times.  Simple economies of scale.  That said, some
number of the national BU's will not follow that advice, for perhaps
good and often bad reason.

Leo Bicknell - bicknell at
PGP keys at
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