Cisco recently announced a Linux-based add-on board for the ISR router models. It might not be the best thing ever invented, it's probably overpriced and we still have to see what we really get; the materials available on the Cisco's web site are another good example of a great marketing machinery (when I see a title "Our Strategy is Integration and Convergence"on the slide #11 of a Technical Overview presentation, I start wondering whether it's worth my time to continue looking at the presentation). But at least this time they talk about supporting Perl and Python, not Tcl :))
However, what really prompted me to start writing this post was the "wisdom" spread by industry journalists. Network world was still moderate; the gentleman at LinuxWorld had some strong opinions. It would be OK if they would stop at bashing the new module (and questioning the value-for-price is always fair), but of course it's more fun being all over the place, evangelizing the beauties of PC-based open-source routers and the demise of traditional router vendors. While there's (yet again) nothing wrong with open-source, let's bring a bit of the history into the picture:
- 15 years ago, someone had a great idea to install WAN cards and routing software into PC servers. The journalists greeted that idea as the downfall of dedicated routers. Guess what ... it flopped and the router market continued to grow.
- Cheap Layer-3 switches have been greeted as the next router killer. We still have routers and switches in our networks.
- People have been using Linux as their home firewalls for years ... and it hasn't really impacted the low-end router market; SOHO users are still preferring to buy Linksys (or whatever other cheap low-end brand) over configuring firewall on Linux.
- Public-domain BGP implementations have been around for as long as I can remember and they are not bad. Some people with very low budget use them for route servers ... but Cisco and Juniper are still selling high-end boxes.
In the real world of networks that have more than a few routers, if you have enough budget to buy yourself a good night's sleep, you usually install dedicated routing hardware ... but I guess this is not the sort of story that would sell the industry journals.