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Cisco out Alcatel in, saves US uni $100m

30 Oct 12

A California State University (CSU) has saved US$100m after cancelling their Cisco contract in favour of Alcatel-Lucent.

The Orange County institution is beginning an eight-year project with the telco equipment firm, aimed at refreshing its 23-campus 10G network with thousands of Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitches.

Replacing Cisco’s 3,316 Catalyst switches at a cost of $122m, CSU agreed only $22m for the same project with the Paris based firm.

"It was a no-brainer," says Michel Davidoff, director of cyberinfrastructure at CSU.

"Since 2001, 2002, for the routing and switching component, we have been a Cisco shop," Davidoff says.

"Fast-forward 10 years ... sometime in the past year, 18 months we decided to either renew with Cisco or select a new vendor.

“Since we had such a big investment in Cisco I knew I would have a major challenge convincing all of them.

“But nobody fought with me that $100 million is worth keeping Cisco for.”

Through network used by almost 430,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff, the OmniSwitch 6900s will serve as the core and data center switches at every campus, with the 6850s and 6450s on-ramps to the 6900 10G core.

The largest four-year university system in the U.S. says the contract will enable them to add hybrid public/private cloud computing in the near future, making operations more efficient and cheap.

On the flip side, the deal is also good news for Kiwi IT distributor Connector Systems, who signed a distribution agreement with Alcatel-Lucent in May to offer the vendor’s entire range of communications and networking solutions.

That includes everything from the company’s OmniPCX Office (OXO) small business range to its OmniPCX Enterprise (OXE) portfolio, as well as its new OpenTouch converged communication platform.

On a seperate but coincidental note. After announcing plans to build an undersea cable connecting Tonga to neighbours Fiji five months ago, Alcatel's proposal is expected to finish on the American west coast, not too far from California State University.