"Cisco has acquired a whole bunch of companies that offer different VPN products," Kosiur said, "and some of them used different software clients for anyone who wanted to dial into a VPN. They didn't interoperate, and that's been a standing problem with VPNs for some time. I think this a good move."
To some analysts, the unified client strategy simply represents an attempt to goad customers into buying Cisco equipment from end to end. But others argue differently, asserting that any form of interoperability is good for the VPN market.
"Most enterprises are on to the fact that Cisco will lead them down the proprietary bridle path," Slaby said, "but that doesn't mean that unifying the client is a bad thing. It makes sense to rationalize disparate technology sets."
To Kosiur, much will depend on whether Cisco shares its interoperability specifications with other vendors. "If they make this an opeen spec, it will be easier for other vendors to embrace it and end up with a single software client, regardless of what mix of Cisco VPN hardware they have at their different sites."
But Slaby doubts that the company will share its technology. "I'd be very surprised if Cisco did that," he said. "It's just not their way."