In 1997, The Red Herring reported rule number 1 at Cisco, “is not to enter a market unless it can be at or near the top—and in the case of network management, the company’s late arrival may turn out to be fortunate .”
Don Listwin, senior vice president of Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS) development during the late 1990s, addressed the company’s tardiness at bringing management systems to the market, “The network management market hasn’t asked us for leadership until recently, and we will invest much more heavily in it in 1997. The advantage to our customers is that they’ve had minimal installation of network management until now, and our Web-based products are much more fluid than other vendors’ server-based tools.” That tardiness may have been tolerable for enterprise customers, but not so suitable for service providers covering disparate networks across the “wide area network.”
Fiberlane’s WAN View concept would become the seed for Cisco’s preference for Web-based fluidity in network management of service provider infrastructure . “WAN View would support simplified installation and configuration, a novel platform independent Web-based graphical user interface (GUI), point-and-click circuit provisioning, end-to-end network views of the topology, and auto-discovery of hardware components.”
At the time, no one was offering a GUI to manage optical transport systems; command-line interface (CLI) languages advocated by companies like Cisco and Nortel were required and highly skilled technicians were needed to administer the entrenched optical transport boxes. In fact, it was common for a number of telco technicians to take weeklong courses to learn how to administer, configure, and operate SONET network elements and another weeklong course in order for other techs to effectively use and navigate a number of these boxes from a separate and centralized network management platform, like Nortel’s INM, Bay Networks’ Optivity, or Cabletron’s Spectrum.
The widespread use of CLI hampered the advancement of ATM technology too. In addition to lacking support for multi-vendor environments, early ATM systems lacked network management support. At least the Ethernet and optical platforms of the late 1990s developed support for management at the outset to aid in the operator’s ability to troubleshot faults and provision data services.
Cerent’s new EMS, supported by the Cerent Transport Controller that behaved as command central for each Cerent 454 network element, would scale and evolve into the Cerent Transport Manager. This CTM moniker would survive as the Cisco Transport Manager for less than a year and then live on for over a decade as Cisco Prime. By now, CTM and then Cisco Prime became full-fledged network management systems (NMSs).
Bert Soto, one of Cisco’s top optical sales people, said in 2013, “CTM is deployed in a lot of places now. Cisco, prior to its Cerent acquisition, had the worst name in network management systems, and it was really the Cerent CTM platform that turned it around for Cisco. It was the work of the Cerent engineers that turned it around.”
Bert continues, “At their core, a lot of Cisco’s management systems are based on CTM. Talk about a legacy. Cisco has a history of having shitty management systems and what turned that around and over time has given Cisco an industry leadership position that has Cerent’s fingerprints all over it.”
How did this happen? Cerent established Cisco’s credibility in the service provider space with a network management platform by leveraging its Cerent Transport Management system ; by providing end-to-end connectivity with Cisco 7600 and Cisco 3400 routers through packet over SONET solutions; and by bringing to the forefront the importance of end-to-end networking.
 The Red Herring (March 1997), Routing the Competition (pp.82–88).
 Early on, Cerent embraced the Netscape browser to deliver web-based fluidity for the management of network elements. A typical image presented to the operator is shown here. The initial release of the Cerent 454 supported Netscape to the delight of craftspeople supportive of graphical user interfaces.
 Cerent’s innovation was ultimately made scalable by building the CTM capability on top of a management platform started by Pipelinks, one of Cisco’s other optical startup acquisitions. The Cerent team could not be coaxed into using the Atlantech Technologies network management platform that Cisco also acquired.