Chapter 3. . Typical Customer Situations
The objective of this chapter is to evaluate, through typical customer situations,
the use of various existing and emerging technologies.
Now that we have examined these open networking technologies, which of these
technologies is the best choice to solve a particular interoperability problem?
Unfortunately, there is rarely a clear answer.
There is an old joke among networking professionals that there are always three
additional layers or levels of complexity beyond whatever is shown in a protocol
stack (for OSI, SNA, TCP/IP, etc.). These three additional layers of complexity
are financial, political, and religious. Quite frankly, most networking decisions
are made on the basis of these three factors, and not on the basis of the “best”
Financial decisions are made on the basis of total cost, and the contribution
towards the future profitability of the company. “Total cost” should be examined
carefully; it is more than the price quote given by a vendor for hardware and
software products, but includes the personnel costs of the people involved in
administering and managing the new network configuration. These personnel
costs are often hidden, and are difficult to estimate. Also hidden are the costs to
train end users on using this new equipment, and impact of performance, and
availability/reliability differences on personnel productivity. Can the solution be
expanded in a scalable manner as the business grows and more people are
added to the network? And finally, does the solution provide a competitive edge
to the company, either in terms of efficiency or by providing a new service to its
Due to its very nature of interconnecting people and/or organizations, networking
implementations have political implications: Who are the key decision makers?
Who will run this new network implementation? Who has control?
Finally, there is the “religious” attribute of the decision making process. No
matter how many facts are shown to certain individuals to argue for or against a
particular technology, there are people who are simply set in their opinion, and
nothing can dissuade them.
Given these constraints, how should one proceed? We can examine a set of
general scenarios, and describe an approach to at least determining the
applicable technologies for a given situation. We can identify some general
questions to assess when examining these technologies for a given situation.
However, it is impossible to determine a single solution without determining
which products in the marketplace are available for the desired platforms, and
also judging the features and functions that individual vendors provide beyond
the core technology.
Something else to consider is that these techniques as described are NOT
specific to any particular protocols or products. In particular, it should be noted
that products may implement one or several of these approaches; and, it may
very well be necessary (in fact, it is almost a certainty) to use several products
Copyright IBM Corp. 1994