The Case for a Vendor-Neutral Network
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The Case for a Vendor-Neutral Network

Jackie Rosenberger
Hello Readers,

Should you stick with one vendor for your networking needs, or should you go your own way, choosing vendor-neutral products and open standards?

Today’s first article, by Kevin Dooley, outlines the advantages and drawbacks of a vendor-neutral network, and offers guidance for the IT manager who must make this difficult decision.

Our second article discusses some of the new mechanisms agreed upon by IBM, Verisign, and Microsoft for the development of Web services. It's a must-read if you're involved in the development of secure Web services.

I hope you enjoy today's issue.

The Case for a Vendor-Neutral Network

by Kevin Dooley, author of Designing Large-Scale LANs

As a consultant, I frequently see networks that are built exclusively using equipment from one vendor. There are some obvious advantages to this approach, but I believe that the advantages of a vendor-neutral network design philosophy are greater still. In many ways the situation is similar to what happened in the mainframe world before networks and client-server applications became common. Many companies bought their computing equipment exclusively from one manufacturer and wound up paying far more money for it as a result. They also found that the proprietary technology prevented them from buying less expensive and more powerful equipment from other vendors unless they abandoned their entire initial investment.

This article looks at the benefits and trade-offs that result from applying a best-of-breed philosophy to selecting network equipment. There is still room for an exclusive relationship with one vendor, but I believe that it is important to fully understand the consequences of running a single-vendor network. Looking at the bigger picture, a single-vendor network becomes more difficult to justify, and the vendor-neutral network design philosophy emerges as the better choice in most cases.
read more here.

Web Services Security: Moving up the stack

New specifications improve the WS-Security model Maryann Hondo (, Sr. Technical Staff Member, IBM
David Melgar (, Advisory software engineer, IBM
Anthony Nadalin (, Lead Architect, IBM

In April, IBM, MS, and Verisign jointly published a specification for Web Services Security (WS-Security) that provides a set of mechanisms to help developers of Web services secure SOAP message exchanges. This specification has been accepted by OASIS and a new Web Services Technical Committee (The WSS TC) has been formed to move WS-Security to an open standard. The WS-Security specification has been explained in some detail in an earlier paper, Security in a Web Services World: A Proposed Architecture and Roadmap.

Additionally in April, IBM and Microsoft provided a roadmap document that included a conceptual stack identifying additional elements that are important to building security into Web services.

The focus of this announcement is the delivery of three more parts of the roadmap; two elements in the policy layer and one in the federation layer.
read more here.

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