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West Virgnia Auditor Finds Cisco Router Purchase Not Performed Legally 280

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the plan-for-success dept.
coondoggie writes "West Virginia wasted millions in federal grant money when it purchased 1,164 Cisco routers for $24 million in 2010, a state audit concluded. A report issued this month by the West Virginia Legislative Auditor found the state used a 'legally unauthorized purchasing process' when awarding the router contract, paid for with federal stimulus funds, to Cisco. The auditor also found Cisco 'showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public' in recommending the investment in its model 3945 branch routers, the majority of which were 'oversized' for the requirements of the state agencies using them, the report (PDF) stated."
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West Virgnia Auditor Finds Cisco Router Purchase Not Performed Legally

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:13AM (#43013217) Journal

    This library [arstechnica.net] has a 3945 [cisco.com].

    Somebody at Cisco must have made quite a bonus...

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:33AM (#43013353)

      It's the same worldwide, when I worked in public sector in the UK some years back it was absolutely no different.

      The companies know it too, which is why public sector contracts are seen as so lucrative most the time. This is also why I made the move to private sector, sure I miss my 38 days leave a year + 15 more through accrued flexi time and my final salary pension scheme, but ultimately I'm not working with the kind of idiots who are responsible for this sort of thing, and that's worth more than any amount of leave or pension (and besides, private sector career progression is more about talent, than how old you are, so it's been a good move career wise too anyway).

      This isn't to say I'm some kind of right wing capitalist that Republican's love, on the contrary, I'm quite socialist in my views, but at the end of the day you can still give too much money to a particular public sector department, and this is exactly what happens when you do, and it's the same wherever you are in the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:44AM (#43013423)

        When I worked public sector, the first priorities weren't getting the best price or best value. They were, in order:

        1) Buy it from a registered state contractor (most of which had ridiculously jacked-up prices)

        [or, if a state contractor didn't have it]:

        2) Find a state contractor and get a "quote" on it (translation: Have a registered state contractor buy it for you and then attach a hefty fee on top of what they paid, rather than buy it directly and save money)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by herring0 (1286926)
          Where I am you can add a step before (1) -
          0.1) Buy it from a HUB (Historically Underutilized Business - minority or woman owned business) - even more insane prices than state list

          Recently we were also told we can't use the HUBs we have been using (though costly were quite capable and providing a good service to us) and must use another HUB because now we aren't buying enough from specific minority/gender combination groups.

          Only at that point are we allowed to proceed the aforementioned idiocy.
        • by Amouth (879122) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @02:37PM (#43017369)

          Running a small PC repair shop in the 90's we wanted to be able to support the local schools as we felt we could easily provide better prices services than they where getting. But i can tell you that we also had to give them a much higher rate than normal because there contract agreements had some insane terms.

          My personal favorite was that when publishing a product on the price-list we MUST guaranty availability at that price point for 7 years. At first i figured that you had to keep that price, but in the fine text it meant you had to keep replacement stock too. If say 6 years of it being on the list they wanted one and you didn't have it and could not provide it you where liable to replace all of there previous purchases for that component with a compatible component (at your expense) from the vendor list (either form your self or another vendor) and they where the ultimate decider on what was considered compatible. In the end we selected a very limited selection of what we normally offered and we did over charge a lot because we would basically have to ensure availability for 7 years, so we would put it out there marked up and watch the demand and then as the product got harder to stock we would stock pile them to the point we could ensure availability.

          We made a lot of money, but so much money was wasted that it just isn't even funny. I still have some 3c905b's from way back in this mess. Personally i'm glad not to be dealing with that stuff anymore.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:45AM (#43013441)

        I don't see it as particularly a public/private difference, but a difference of well-run and poorly-run organizations. That might correlate, but I've seen plenty of examples on the opposite sides as well.

        On the private-sector side: have you ever looked at how Enterprise procurement works? Cisco makes a ton of money doing exactly the same thing there. You find some Fortune 100 firm that has a lot of money but no clue about technology, and you recommend a ridiculously over-specced system, which they buy because nobody ever got fired for buying Cisco. Oracle makes their money doing that too.

        And on the private-sector side: procurement in Scandinavia is much less of a mess than in the US and UK, which is why building the Copenhagen Metro cost less than 1/10 of the per-mile cost of most U.S. metro construction projects.

        • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:07AM (#43013597)

          "I don't see it as particularly a public/private difference, but a difference of well-run and poorly-run organizations. That might correlate, but I've seen plenty of examples on the opposite sides as well."

          Yes, this is absolutely true. The problem (at least here in the UK) is that public sector is almost universally bad because there is absolutely no accountability. In private sector, if you do a bad job, you eventually go bankrupt and lose your job, in public sector that never happens.

          I'd be interested to know why public sector projects do work better in Scandinavia, is it because there is more accountability, or is it simply because they're not given so much money to work with? On a project that can be achieved with £1million for example, what should happen is:
          Person 1) Here's £1million to go do x
          Person 2) I can't do x with only £1million
          Person 1) Okay, you're fired, we'll get someone who can

          What actually happens is:
          Person 1) Here's £1million to go do x
          Person 2) I can't do x with only £1million
          Person 1) Okay, here's £2million more

          Or just outright:
          Person 1) Here's £3million to go do x
          Person 2) Okay

          I do completely agree the problem isn't specific to public sector just because public sector is public sector, but because of the nature of public sector generally in that it tends not to be held to account or given enough incentive to do a good job (and by incentive, I mean, you get to keep your job if you don't do a shit job). Natural selection is inherent in private sector - those businesses or employees that do shit, go bankrupt or get fired, but it's not inherent in public sector due to the fact central government will just bail them out, and up taxes to cover the cost if need be. There it needs to be created artificially, and I don't think many governments do that.

          This is also why the bank bailout may not have been particularly smart, but interestingly as a result of the bank bailout governments have created a lot more legislation to govern how they operate and what they can get away with precisely to create at least some of the necessary accountability artificially. Yet they wont do that with public sector even though it suffers the exact same problems - institutional incompetence fed by lack of accountability.

          • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:20AM (#43013661)

            You missed the looping which is important, what happens is:

            Person 1) Here's $3 million to go do X
            Person 2) OK, I shall do it
            [ time passes ]
            Person 2) Ive finished, and I only spent $1 million, so here's $2 million back.
            [ time passes]
            Person 1) Here's $1 million to do do Y

            Or:

            Person 1) Here's $3 million to go do X
            Person 2) OK, I shall do it
            [ time passes ]
            Person 2) We've run out of money but we are almost done.
            Person 3) OK, here's another $1 million.
            [ time passes]
            Person 2) Ive finished.
            [ time passes]
            Person 1) Here's $4 million to do do Y

            If you've worked in anywhere that sells to large businesses/government you will have seen the end of budget rush as departments rush orders to get billed before the end of the budget year so they can spend their allocated budget before they have to give anything left back and get less next round. It's always our busiest time of year.

            • by Xest (935314)

              This is actually one of my pet peeves in the UK too.

              Local government budgets renew in April, it gets to December the busiest time of the year for traffic, and what do they do?

              They blow all remaining budget on roadworks.

              You know, rather than plan it throughout the year, doing a lot of it in the summer and so forth when the roads are quiet, they wait until commuters are already suffering the clusterfuck of Christmas shoppers and they then just screw it all up a bit more too by closing half the roads, lanes, a

          • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:31AM (#43013787)

            In private sector, if you do a bad job, you eventually go bankrupt and lose your job

            In theory and in the long-run, perhaps, but this can take a very long time, and may never happen if other things outweigh it. I have some second-hand experience with how things work in the oil industry, and procurement there is a mess in part because it really has only a marginal effect on the company's long-term survival, which depends almost entirely on a mixture of oil exploration on the one hand, and geopolitical factors like the price of oil and whether Russia is going to confiscate your mineral rights, on the other hand. Overpaying for Cisco routers is lost in the noise: if a company like Exxon is doing well, it can afford it, and if it's going to go bankrupt, it won't be because of Cisco routers.

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              Plus, you could always be "too big to fail".

              If you are a large company that's richer than some small nations, you may find that the government won't let you fail regardless of how badly you screw up. If anything, they will bail you out and let you become even bigger (like AA).

          • by ByOhTek (1181381)

            Part of the issue is also that

            1) Government jobs often don't pay as well as their private equivalents - so it's harder for them to keep good talent.
            2) A lot of regulation (at least where I'm at) is against corruption, and not towards efficiency - No, it doesn't always prevent the former, that's virtually impossible, but there are times where the two are mutually exclusive unless the laws start to get convoluted.

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            Accountability in government is a bit harder. It's easy to show that you did your job correctly and by the letter, which makes it hard to get fired in public service since there are rules about how to fire someone. In the private world though you can do everything correctly by the book and it doesn't stop you from getting fired if someone higher up thinks you aren't effective.

            You can buy the most expensive product as a public service employee and still be able to show that you followed the rules correctly

        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:57AM (#43013961) Homepage

          I don't see it as particularly a public/private difference, but a difference of well-run and poorly-run organizations.

          Assuming that the private sector is always efficient is wrong, because anyone who's worked in large private sector companies knows full well that it's not. For example, most of the "management consulting" industry shouldn't really exist, because it's entire reason for existing is so that some manager Smith can hire an outside firm to tell their boss that Smith's plan is better than Jones' plan and thus secure Smith that promotion. One of the things that's becoming clear in corporate governance is that an employee of a corporation faced with making a decision that benefits themselves versus a decision that benefits the organization will pick themselves almost every time.

          Assuming that the public sector is always inefficient is also wrong. There are public agencies that are ridiculously efficient at what they do. For example, the administrative overhead of Social Security is approximately 0.9%. The VA gets more bang for the health care buck than Medicaid, Medicare, and private medical insurance. The CFPB [consumerfinance.gov] is doing a pretty good job on a shoestring budget. The National Park Service costs about $3 billion a year, which sounds like a lot but is actually about $10 per American, and in return it serves 280 million visitors a year, which certainly seems like a pretty good value.

          More to the point, assuming the public sector inherently sucks means we stop rewarding those public servants that do a really good job, which will reduce their motivation and pretty much guarantee that they'll do it badly. And assuming the private sector inherently is efficient means we stop holding private organizations accountable when they screw up. Doing either is really stupid.

      • and besides, private sector career progression is more about talent, than how old you are

        Haha, good one!

        Talent probably matters more than age in career progression, but it's commonly less important than politicking and nepotism.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      But the Cisco salesman told them they absolutely needed a 3945, for future expansion and such!

      • I'm vaguely sympathetic to the desire to single-source and have something you can monitor with one tool, which would exclude the obvious 'just get a $50 router, FFS' option; but under any reasonable depreciation calculation scheme, it'd probably be cheaper to get an ASA 5505 now, and throw it away if you need something bigger in the future than it would be to get a 3945 now in case you end up gluing a second trailer to your first or something...

        (and yes, I know that you are joking.)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, the reason that the 3945s were recommended was because the state wanted routers with redundant power supplies, and the 3945 is the lowest model Cisco makes with redundant power...

        • by Skapare (16644)

          They who wanted dual power supplies? I can see maybe some being used in some places like the State Police. But for all the small schools, too?

        • by msauve (701917) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:42AM (#43013865)
          " the state wanted routers with redundant power supplies"

          Well, that's what Cisco claims, but they can't document it. The best they could do was show that redundant power was included in some spreadsheets which the state reviewed. People within the state deny making redundant power a requirement, although they did discuss it for "24/7/365 locations such as regional jails and DHHR state hospitals."
    • So... technological needs are judged by the appearance of the outside of the building? Guess my plan of letting the outside of my house look like I'm too poor to have anything, so that no potential burglars realize there's a bunch of expensive technology-related stuff inside (or of spending all my money on computers and video games rather than fixing the outside of my house... however you want to look at it) should work!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And a customer that doesn't know what they're buying? Say it ain't so!

    Caveat emptor - get smarter buyers.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Competitive bidding and requirements development are cornerstones of all government procurement processes. I guess the WV procurement team needs a refresher course in doing that because if they'd gone to HP or any other provider they would have provided their hardware solution which could have demonstrated that what Cisco proposed was overblown. Nobody likes competitive bidding but it does help weed out these kinds of things.

  • So they got boondoggled. There's really nothing they can do. Someone is counting their ill-gotten gains at everyone else's expense, and that's business as usual for the world. That's always how it is, people unjustly enrich their pockets at everyone else's expense. It's not illegal to be an unethical crook.
    • by Threni (635302)

      What could be done is expecting Cisco to pay back the difference between what they got and what they should have got next time a contract comes up somewhere...they have to be $x cheaper than their rivals charge for the same spec kit. There has to be a price otherwise they won't change.

      • by thogard (43403)

        Many states and the federal government used to have rules that would fine your company if the profit exceeded 25%. The fine of a 26% profit margin was about 10%. At 27.5% the fine would break even with the profit. Maybe it is time to bring back those kinds of rules or enforce them when they are still in the law books.

      • by silas_moeckel (234313) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:59AM (#43013541) Homepage

        It looks like the state wrote a RFP the specified cisco kit and specific cisco kit at that. It looks like they wanted a single box for routing, switching, wireless, secure voip with PSTN fallback, waas, and POE. Cisco charges a HUGE premium to put all that into a single box. The VOIP and WAAS are baby servers each and add the switch in you have filled the add in slots. Anyways this is not something to blame on cisco the IT guys picked a winner by what they specked and how they specked it. Having worked with government IT before it's easy to get stuck doing something stupid, case in point agency was looking to upgrade there 80's 56k frame relay bridged network. I came in as a sub, they had specified a cisco 7500 as the core for a upgrade to DS3's and that it be bridged. Well noting that they were an all IPX shop I recommended routing it took longer to get that change put into the contract and I had auditors questioning if I was trying to give them something lesser. They extended the project and had be connect up the locations via preexisting fiber they are paying 130k a month for DS3's to facilities they have dark fiber to. I had to fight to let the dark fiber be the primary routed path as they did not want to loose face with there 7500 DS3 5 year contract boondoggle, in the end they went from 56k frame to gige fiber with a 45mbs DS3 backup network. At the end of the day if you let the gov IT guys spec more than what they want to do they can easily start picking winners as far as manufacturers, in the case of that 7500 I'm very sure he wanted it as a resume point that he worked with them.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      If you're hired as a consultant, you're supposedly being paid to attend to the interests of a client, and there is some level of complete disregard of those interests which should rise to the level of fraud.

    • It's still a bad situation for Cisco. I remember a similar story about them several months ago that happened in California. When a company builds a reputation for dishonesty and ripping off their customers, other potential customers will stop even considering them as an option. Even if this type of news doesn't get the same type of attention as the latest high-profile murder case, Cisco's competitors are paying attention and this will become a part of their sales pitch.

      It's not illegal to be an unethical crook.

      Crook - someone who has committed a c

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:15AM (#43013233) Homepage

    "Not Performed Legally"?
    "'legally unauthorized purchasing process"?

    So, the opposite of legal... would be illegal.

    Also: "Cisco showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public"

    Really, a profit driven company tried to fleece the public? I'm shocked, shocked like a man making toast in the bath!

    • Re:Newspeak (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:26AM (#43013301)

      In a decent world, this would get the company blacklisted for all government-funded future purchases for a certain time. Which would make company care a LOT about not fleecing the public.

      • Blacklisting Cisco is being mooted as a possible punishment according to Ars.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          "But that would be regulation".

          Possibility gets taken off the table.

          • by Shatrat (855151)

            It would be regulation if the state was telling others how to make their purchasing decisions. The state altering its own purchasing decisions is just good decision making.

          • by Sloppy (14984)

            Regulation is when you point a gun at someone else's face and tell them to do things the way you say, or else. He's talking about altering their own internal decisions. That's not regulation; that's administration.

    • Re:Newspeak (Score:5, Interesting)

      by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:56AM (#43013523) Homepage

      Disclaimer: I work in the office where this occurred although NOT a part of this mess...

      Having said that, if anyone has ever tried to work with the WV purchasing division you come to realize they practice real hard to rise to a level of incompetency the likes of which would make a pinhead blush. This isn't the first time officials have tried to "get around" them. Joe Manchin himself used a practice called stringing to avoid using them when he was governor. Projects languish over there for years meanwhile the clock is ticking on the funds available. I have had a contract sit there for 18 months with no end in sight.

      I am not trying to excuse what was done simply trying to get others to see a broken system in this state. When you make things so difficult to work with of course people try to find a way a way around it. That is human nature. This incident has less to do with any sort of corruption (although some did exist in the Cisco sales rep and his representations) than it had to do with trying to meet the conditions of the grant quickly which was one of the conditions itself. Remember, stimulus funds were supposed to be used for "shovel ready" projects. Few states met that requirement....

    • Re:Newspeak (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:04AM (#43013569) Journal

      "Not Performed Legally"? "'legally unauthorized purchasing process"?

      So, the opposite of legal... would be illegal.

      Also: "Cisco showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public"

      Really, a profit driven company tried to fleece the public? I'm shocked, shocked like a man making toast in the bath!

      Cisco did not fleece the public they put in their proposal and the government accepted it, this has all the markings of money burning a hole in the auditors pocket. The auditor had $24 million to spend so they spent it, they don't care if they had a cheaper option, they wanted the best they could get for the money they had, even if they didn't need it. Unfortunately the way government spending works is you are expected to spend every dime they give you. If you don't spend it all then you are punished by getting less or none next time around.

  • Spending someone else's money on something they can't afford themselves, and don't really need anyway, in the name of fixing the economy . . . ?

    • by wbr1 (2538558)

      Spending someone else's money on something they can't afford themselves, and don't really need anyway, in the name of fixing the economy . . . ?

      Only in part. It is also to repair, replace, and create new ifrastructure, thereby allowing businesses to do more. That 'more' dtill requires the businesses to spend on expansion that uses said infrastructure. Right now the only thing businesses spend on this government to buy laws.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      uh, mods, this isn't flamebait. It's a good point. The whole ARRA was to push "shovel ready" projects and stimulate the economy. In this case all it stimulated was Cisco's quarterly results.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        But the righties are always telling us about this making jobs. I thought giving all the money to the "job creators" is exactly what they wanted to do? Thus they will hire people, not because they have work for them but because they have too much money or something.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Yep I am sure this created all kinds job hours over seas keeping the production line printing up router PCBs a little while longer. After being sold at Cisco's (I would guess based on price breaks I have seen them give VARs) 140% markup a whole lot of good US tax payer dollars help fill the deposit capital requirements of a European bank. After all we know Cisco never re-repatriates profits; okay maybe these particular dollars hit US entities and tax roles but they just offset other dollars that would hav

    • I get that you're being sarcastic, but the answer is no. Stimulus is effectively forcing us to borrow money to spend now in the name of fixing the economy and the spending is supposed to be on things of actual value. The classic example is if stimulus is simply about getting money into hands, just hire people to dig trenches with spoons. We don't need trenches and that's a stupid way to get them but it's "creating jobs".

  • The people who bought these should be punished. Publicly. Then they should be barred for life from public service.
    Then the people who hired these fools should be punished. Publicly. And barred for life from public service.

    Come on people. Firing is easy. It is hiring that is hard.

    • The people who voted for the people who hired these fools should be punished. Publicly. And barred for life from voting.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Those Responsible for Sacking the People Who Have Just Been Sacked, Have Been Sacked.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      As Gary Becker once said, there are 4 scenarios in which one spends money:
      1. 1. Spending one's own money on oneself
      2. 2. Spending one's own money on others
      3. 3. Spending others' money on oneself
      4. 4. Spending others' money on others

      Depending on the scenario, this is what will happen:

      • The person who spends his own money on himself will be careful about how much he spends, while taking good care of himself
      • The person who spends his own money on others will be careful about how much he spends, but not bother about what
  • by garry_g (106621) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:27AM (#43013313)

    Looking at the regular wholesale price in Germany (which is most likely higher than in the US), a price of $20k per piece would require e.g. a voice bundle. Plus, with a purchase of that many devices, Cisco would allow for a project price that would save at least another 20-30% on the purchase ...
    As for the oversized, unless they were setting up every site with full 1G or more, they are oversized by at least one or two models ... 29xx series will in most cases handle any "regular" speed used in WAN environments, even with partial 1G speeds ...

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:32AM (#43013339)

    I can attest that while Cisco makes great products their sales folks and technical sales consultants are very unscrupulous at times. At a company I was working for we were looking for competitive bidding on a new Wifi Infrastructure. We were currently using old Cisco equipment however management wanted to have an open process and do a competitive bid. The Cisco sales staff and their channel support did everything they could to undermine the competitors even though our bake off showed that in terms of some features, the competitors had better features and security. Ultimately when they sensed that they would lose, they used a product roadmap meeting with our CIO as an opportunity to throw my management and my entire team under the bus at our "flawed" thinking.

    Hard sell techniques? Yes. Unprofessional? Definitely.

    In this case, it sounds like the Cisco sales rep was looking at his bonus, which was probably very very lucrative considering the total sales contract price. Any Network Architect or Engineer worth his salt wouldn't have recommended this overblown hardware based on the requirements. Hopefully West Virginia will use this opportunity to fix the holes in their procurement process so this doesn't happen again because I don't see Cisco ever giving them a refund.

    • Ultimately when they sensed that they would lose, they used a product roadmap meeting with our CIO as an opportunity to throw my management and my entire team under the bus at our "flawed" thinking.

      So, was their evil plan foiled or not?

      • by Virtucon (127420) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @10:56AM (#43014731)

        No, they didn't win but we did have a "called on the carpet" discussion about it. We presented our facts and also noted that the procurement organization was in charge and could verify our requirements and process. He couldn't say anything after that.
        Cisco did make millions more on Nexus upgrades to the infrastructure but after that any time I see Cisco I just wince.

    • Nobody's sales staff is as bad as EMC. After loosing a bake off due to inability to meet minimum performance requirements (which everybody else had done) with there SE's allowed to do any tuning to the SAN and OS over 2 days. They went up two levels to the CEO face to face out of work and proceeded to trash testing methodologies, then insisted that doubling the server buy would make there stuff perform (to the tune of 15m, more than the SAN gear in total), and for the ultimate in wrong started making plea'

  • Cisco's M.O. (Score:4, Informative)

    by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:32AM (#43013343) Homepage Journal

    I'm not surprised, this is Cisco's M.O.

    Every quote I've ever gotten from them has been massively inflated by speccing higher end equipment than is necessary. They always give the big pitch for the bigger product - usually to upper mgmt, whether it is overkill or not. Everyone wants to believe they are "the enterprise", so Cisco talks them into enterprise-grade equipment.

    Not to say that the state employees shouldn't have questioned the quote. But odds are that the only technically knowledgable people involved were Cisco's people, and they are the pros at fleecing the sheep.

  • "Cisco 'showed a wanton indifference to the interests of the public' "

    On what planet does CISCO bear a responsibility to the 'interests of the public'?

    Seriously?

    CISCO's responsibility to its shareholders, pretty much* full stop.

    *I'd argue it's in its longer-term self interest to pay attention to the interests of its employees, and probably its home-community. But to the 'public in general'? None whatsoever.

    The responsibility lies entirely with the 'expert' or 'consultant' hired to run the project. And if

    • On what planet does CISCO bear a responsibility to the 'interests of the public'?

      Seriously?

      CISCO's responsibility to its shareholders, pretty much* full stop.

      Why? I mean, as a citizen of this country, I am expected to show some responsibility to the nation and my fellow citizens. I can't just run amuck and do as I please, raping and plundering. And not just because the law says I can't but because that's part of a social contract that helps keep civilization going.

      Why should a corporation - especially in Am

      • ...

        Does their charter indicate that they need to pursue courses of action that are profitable to their shareholders? Of course. But not at a cost to the host nation that supports them. To suggest otherwise is extremely damaging to the society we live in, and it's disheartening to see such ideas even bandied about.

        Sadly that seems to be the prevailing view among the business types these days, and has been since the "Reagan revolution." Business can do no wrong as long as it makes money for itself, and sometimes the share holders if management/board of directors isn't to busy screwing them, too. Likely they won't be happy until everyplace looks like Somalia.

    • "*I'd argue it's in its longer-term self interest to pay attention to the interests of its employees, and probably its home-community. But to the 'public in general'? None whatsoever."

      So, what about customers? Neglecting the interests of your customers will make them turn to another, and will ultimately hurt all the stakeholders of a company. This near-sighted emphasis on shareholders in the anglo-saxon businessworld is STUPID. Even from the most extreme money grabbing greed perspective. I mean, your collec

  • The problem, as I see it, is not in the fact that they used Cisco but that it looks like it was a no-bid contract. There are other companies out there with routing equipment that compare favorably with Cisco products. I've found Cisco fanboism to be as annoying as Apple fanboism.
  • by Skapare (16644) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @08:58AM (#43013535) Homepage

    Most of the report focuses on dual power supplies. Are those really needed? Maybe. Probably not in most cases.

    Dual power supplies perform a couple of useful functions. If a power source fails, the other power supply fed by the alternate source keeps the router running. This is good for critical operations, and in maybe a few circumstances like the state police, it might have been useful to them. The other function is to keep the router running if a power supply dies. I've found this to be rare, but not impossible, with Cisco equipment. Again, it depends on how critical things are. Students and teachers in a school might be quite upset, and some online education processes can be disrupted, but education can still go on with substituted lessons during the time it takes for a replacement to arrive.

    As for capacity, the router should have been chosen to match the designated capacity level, which did vary widely. Then when any facility needed to be upgraded to a higher capacity level, the router would be swapped out to match. A hand-me-down approach could be used for another smaller facility to use the bumped out router for their capacity growth. A range of routers in a pool could make that work. OTOH, politicians might also cry foul if a few routers are sitting in storage to support hurried replacement and hand-me-down steps.

    • It's funny because I just finished up doing a network for a small going on medium sized business who was bringing up a new headquarters on a shoestring budget and I wound up getting them a layer 3 HP switch for their headquarters. On HP's networking chart, it's called an edge switch or a remote-office switch, or something like that but it has plenty of backplane and PPS capacity for what they need as a core router.

      However, it does not have a redundant power supply but I did specify the model that can do ro

  • Cisco and FUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gim Tom (716904) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @09:01AM (#43013553)
    This really doesn't surprise me. Having worked with a State government in the late 1990's I was in charge of a conversion from Token Ring to eithernet for a moderate sized network for an agency. Cisco seemed to assume that we were all dumb as dirt and insisted that no other brand of eithernet switches would work with their routers which we were already using and which we did want to stay with for the one router we needed.. A classic case of FUD. Fortunately, they were high bid on the overall project by a factor of over two! By using the vendor WE wanted (who also had the lowest total cost) for the switches, and keeping the Cisco router, the conversion went off ahead of schedule and way under budget and worked fine for as long as I was there. My experience taught me that they really didn't CARE what was best for the customer, they just wanted the sale.
  • by MrLint (519792) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @10:24AM (#43014269) Journal

    My experience is this:

    1) High level person talks to middle IT (and usually incompetent IT manager) about a bunch of buzzwords they read in an in-flight magazine
    2) IT middle manager doesn't bother to say (or know) that buzzword won't work or is inappropriate for location.
    3) Peons who actually work on the stuff tell MM all the issues, and as he doesn't understand plows forward anyway.
    4) Bid gets put out and approved because its buzzword capable, and its what was the requested specifications.
    5) Thing of dubious value gets installed ( or not)

    6*) [Bonus!] actual needs aren't met because there no money left becuase of shiny new toy that makes upper level ppl happy that they are "cloud enabled"

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday February 26, 2013 @10:43AM (#43014549)

    I work in sales for another company selling servers. It's all in the information in the RFP. Do you think the original requirements document sent out specified individually what each police station or library would require? Never. There's very few employees out there in public or private sector that would go down to that detail.

    Oftentimes the purchaser sees the budget they have available to them and hears the age old mantra "use it or lose it." So they buy the biggest and baddest piece of IT gear they can.

    The case that I see now is with servers. Let's say some enterprise is building out a new datacenter using vmware and they want to operationally standardize on a single model. A common practice. So they go out a buy a 1000 Dell/HP/IBM servers. They don't go out and buy 17 of model X, 25 of model Y, etc etc all with different memory/disk configurations depending on the specific workload that will be put on each individual server.

    If the RFPs specified every single requirement for every single location all customers would get a more accurate proposal. However, they don't.

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