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

Jean-Francois Mezei jfmezei_nanog at
Thu Dec 29 19:22:01 UTC 2016

When doing business in 100 countries, what if vendor A has support in 80
of those countries, and vendor B has good presence in the last 20 ? What
if you require a vendor that has presence in all countries and this
limits your RFPs to a single vendor ?

Does your company run semi autonomous subsidiaries in each country with
its own IT/networking staff ? Who buys local connectivity, HQ in USA or
the local subsidiary ?

So, if you maintain links to 100 countries around the globe, do you want
central management ? can it provide localised support in local languages
and local times zones from head office ? Or would that stretch it beyond
reasonable capacity and you start to need support from different
locations anyways ?

Does HQ staff have legal knowledge or all local regulations? Do they
have experience bribing officials where bribing is part of business?

What happens when country X has special legal requirements, and country
Y has conflicting requirememnts that prevent uniform deployment ?

It wasn't that long ago that US equipment with encryption couldn't be
exported everywhere because encryption was considered a military secret.

Consider that in today's environment, it isn't so ludicrous to suggest
that a country may require that the equipment has a "backdoor".  So it
is best to allow that country to have its own separate equipment with
minimal management abilities to/from that country to prevent that
country's government from interfering with your opps in other countries.

It may seem more efficient to manage everything centrally but...

I'll use an airline analogy:

Southwest airlines was quite succesful with a single plane type. Common
training for pilots, all planes maintained from a central hangar, common
spare parts etc. If it had 100 planes, and all were maintained from one
hangar capable of maintaining 100 planes, this was much better than
having 50 737s, and 50 A 320s, requiring 2 separate hangars, each used
at only 50% capacity.

BUT, if you have 200 planes, then the second batch of planes could be
Airbus, and maintained in their own hangar, resulting in both hangars
being used at 100% capacity.

The point is that beyond a certain size, the advantages of having
everything common are not as important, and having dfferent equipment
gives you more leverage when negotiating, as well as isolates
bugs/viruses to only part of your network.

Another aspect is of innovation. When HQ standardizes with one vendor
and it is all centralliy managed, it becomes really hard to introduce
new technologies because your systems are cast into concrete. If you
give each country some autonomy for local equipment, they may be
experimenting with different vendors and could find that some new vendor
is much better than the one used at HQ, and that experience could then
percolate up to headquarters (instead of everything decided at HQ and
percolating down to each branch office/subsidiary).

At the end of the day, it all depends on how autonomous each subsidiary
is around the world.

This is quite different from having 100 branches in the USA, each
getting physical connection from the same fibre vendor and each
operating under same laws, and minimal time zones (still 5 hours between
New York and Hawaii though).

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