Posts with #cisco news tag
Cisco will boost its enterprise collaboration stack with products designed to simplify the way companies secure communications, interact with external parties and manage their collaboration tools.
At its annual Collaboration Summit event, Cisco announced the next phase of its vision for collaboration, which focuses on delivering innovations that embrace the modern workspace and enable users to work smarter and more efficiently from virtually anywhere. Cisco designed the new solutions specifically with the goal of making it easier for teams to instantly connect communicate and collaborate–so people can respond faster and make decisions more quickly. Tailor-made for the increasingly mobile and distributed workforce, these new innovations are simple to use, are highly intuitive and make collaboration easy to scale across organizations of all sizes.
“Collaboration tools are old and broken,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, during a meeting with reporters prior to today’s announcement.
Younger workers demand and expect collaboration tools—including IM, presence, video conferencing, audio chats, IP telephony and Web meetings—to be readily available anytime and anywhere, so Cisco is doubling down on mobility and cloud computing.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Trollope said, adding that the products being unveiled represent “a new direction for collaboration at Cisco.”
A Bevy of New Offerings
One of the products is the Cisco Expressway, a gateway that secures real-time collaboration, including voice, IM and video communications without requiring device registration, account setup or passwords.
Cisco Expressway, part of the company’s Collaboration Edge Architecture, uses Transport Layer Security and works with Cisco product families like Jabber and TelePresence. Expressway will be available in December. Expressway remote and mobile access for Jabber will be included at no additional cost in Cisco Unified Workspace license bundles.
Another new product is Jabber Guest, which plugs into Expressway and lets companies provide secure, controlled access to their enterprise collaboration systems to external parties like partners, contractors and customers.
For example, Jabber Guest lets companies usher in outsiders via a link on an IM or through a button on their website, so that, say, a tech support representative can communicate with a customer through video conference and screen share via a browser or mobile device. Jabber Guest will be available in January. Pricing will be announced then and will be based on the number of concurrent “guest” sessions the customer wants to have available.
Cisco will also unveil a new technology called Intelligent Proximity, designed to make it easy for employees to link their mobile phones with their desk phones
Cisco will also unveil a new technology called Intelligent Proximity, designed to make it easy for employees to link their mobile phones with their desk phones so that they can switch calls in progress back and forth, and export contacts and call histories from the mobile phones. The first Cisco phone to gain this functionality will be the Android-based DX650 Smart Desk Phone.
The first implementation of Intelligent Proximity uses Bluetooth, but it will later employ an as-yet-unannounced Cisco technology that will further simplify the linking of devices, according to Trollope. The Intelligent Proximity for the DX650 will be delivered via a free firmware upgrade in November.
For IT administrators, Cisco has enhanced Prime Collaboration, giving it a centralized management console to control most Cisco collaboration products, including servers, desk phones and client software, monitor system health and provision users’ own devices. It will be available in November.
Cisco is also announcing the second generation of its TelePresence MX300 endpoint, which is a stand-mounted, high-definition (1080p) display with a camera, four-way conferencing capability, an industrial “sleek” design and simple assembly requirements, according to the company. Available in December, its list price starts at $23,900.
On the low end, Cisco unveiled the IP Phone 7800 Series for midmarket customers that offers what the company describes as “superior audio quality” with low power consumption. It will be available this month and cost $255.
Original News from http://www.pcworld.com/article/2057100/cisco-beefs-up-enterprise-collaboration-tools.html
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The data centre is the heart of the network, delivering business agility and promoting IT transformation. As your business evolves and you look towards new technologies and applications to grow, the data centre switching architecture that underpins the delivery of enterprise-wide applications and services must provide the scalability, convergence, and intelligence that will enable your company to thrive.
The Cisco Nexus family of data centre switches, part of Cisco's Unified Fabric, provides you with industry leading products and innovations that enable you to transform your data centre through key capabilities that create a simpler, smarter, more scalable and resilient network.
Delivering Architectural Flexibility and Choice
Data centre functionality, space, and architectures can differ from business to business and even from location to location. The Cisco Nexus family of data centre switches provides a comprehensive product portfolio that can be deployed at the aggregation, core, top of rack, middle, or end of row and as an embedded virtual switch integrated into your server hypervisor. By delivering a flexible architecture we address the requirements of various designs, cabling, and environmental requirements.
The Power of Cisco NX-OS Software Innovations
Cisco NX-OS software, a proven, purpose-built data centre operating system, provides you with an intelligent and scalable network operating system that offers continuous availability and sets the standard for mission-critical environments. Cisco NX-OS software delivers exceptional operational flexibility through a single operating system that is also used on the Cisco MDS 9000 family of storage switches and the Cisco UCS 6100 Series Fabric Interconnects of the Cisco Unified Computing System for consistent operations across physical, virtualized, and converged environments. This allows you to implement a single operating system across network, storage, and compute infrastructures, thus simplifying data center operations, resulting in a positive effect on operational costs.
More about “Transform your data centre with Cisco’s Nexus switching portfolio” you can read PDF file at
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Cisco is introducing a new router that will be able to handle the dramatic increase in demand for Internet downloads.
If Internet traffic is going to triple over the next five years, as Cisco predicts, we're gonna need a bigger boat.
On Wednesday, Cisco unveiled its latest solution to help wireless carriers and Internet service providers manage their customers' insatiable demand for more streaming videos, app downloads and social networking.
The new core router technology, known as"CRS-X," will provide speeds of 400 Gigabits per second -- and that's just for one slot on the router's rack. Each rack is scalable up to 6.4 Terabits per second, and the entire CRS-X system is capable of nearly 1 Petabit per second if multiple racks are set up in tandem.
That is insanely fast -- double anything that currently exists on the market.
A single CRS-X rack will be able to provide streaming HD video to every New Yorker simultaneously, Cisco claims. A full, multichassis setup is capable of downloading the entire printed collection of the Library of Congress in a split second and can stream every movie ever created in about a minute.
Core routers sit at the epicenter of the Internet, serving as the traffic cops at the biggest intersections on the busiest data highways. They connect visitors' requests to sites like Google, Netflix, and Facebook, and they send data back to the right place in return.
They're a crucial part of the Internet backbone, and one that Cisco has a comfortable lead in. Cisco has 750 CRS customers, selling 10,000 systems to date, and it commands a roughly 65% share of the core routing market. That's more than double No. 2 Juniper's share.
Cisco says its solution is cheaper than Juniper's offerings. For instance, customers who installed Cisco's previous core router, dubbed CRS-3, in 2010, can upgrade to CRS-X by simply swapping out their CRS-3 cards for the new ones. In previous updates, Juniper has required customers to buy entire new router setups to upgrade their systems.
"It's as easy as putting in new line cards," said Stephen Liu, Cisco's director of service provider marketing. "For all intents and purposes, it'll then be a CRS-X -- except for what the paint on the outside says."
Cisco says the CRS-X will help customers prepare for the "Internet of Everything," a much-discussed (but yet-to-arrive) world in which household items, cars and even clothing will connect to the Internet. Instead of connecting 4 million devices simultaneously, carriers and ISPs may soon need to connect 40 million items at the same time.
That's why modern core routers like the CRS-X manage different kinds of traffic in separate ways. You'll have a miserable experience if your Netflix video stream keeps getting interrupted, but you likely wouldn't notice if it takes a split second longer to load a website.
"The innovation our customers are getting isn't just about faster speeds and more lanes on the highway," said Liu. "It's more like a GPS system that helps you find the best path based on traffic congestion."
Though the CRS-X won't go on sale until the fall or even begin shipping until the end of 2013, customers are already saying they're impressed. Mike Haberman, vice president of network operations at Verizon Wireless said the new CRS system will help the nation's largest wireless provider meet its service demands "well into the future."
News from http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/12/technology/enterprise/cisco-internet-speed/index.html
In small form factor, CGS-1000 switch is low-latency and designed for utilities
Cisco, which wants to expand its clout into the industrial networks used by power-generation utilities to support the electric grid, today announced an expansion of its "smart grid" portfolio with ruggedized and low-latency switches and other equipment intended for use in electric-power distribution systems.
"Utilities often have systems unique to them," said Jenny Gomez, marketing manager in Cisco's Connected Energy Business Unit that oversees the architecting of a wide range of equipment for networking and physical security to modernize utility networks while supporting their legacy systems that in some cases aren't being swapped out. As part of this effort, Cisco today introduced a number of products, including the CGS-1000 switch in a small form factor for use in a location such as an electric substation that's part of a complex, critical power-distribution system.
"The CGS-1000 is built to withstand harsh environments," pointed out Joe Ammirato, senior director of product management at Cisco's Connected Energy Business Unit. The ruggedized low-latency switch is intended to be able to work with utility sensors that often have serial interfaces, not Ethernet ones, Ammirato noted.
With experience gained over a few years in working with some utilities in North America and Europe, Cisco has been designing specialized switching, network access and security products for both data center and substation equipment under its so-called GridBlocks architecture. The push is part of Cisco's much-ballyhooed "Internet of Everything" initiative that's taking the company further into areas outside of traditional business IT networking.
The GridBlocks architecture supposes that Cisco will be able to provide equipment aimed not only at the substation tier, but also the system-control level where wide-area networks connect substations with each other and with control systems as well as SCADA and other event messaging.
The architecture also addresses utility data centers and control centers, plus devices and systems associated with residences and third-party elements. The Cisco GridBlocks architecture lists several other tiers for interchange and trans-national grid monitoring and tie-ins as well. In many cases, Cisco isn't coming up with entirely new products for the utilities but adapting its network segmentation, switching, security and management platforms to try and suit specialized needs utilities have.
Cisco is recommending MPLS as a core technology for utility use, especially in substations, says Ammirato, who points out that utility networks associated with the grid may not necessarily be IP-based at all today or they connect in a style not seen in modern IT business networks. For utilities intending to modernize, the challenge is in swapping out what can reasonably be changed while bridging older legacy systems that for one reason or another will remain related to the transmission grid.
---News from http://www.networkworld.com/news/2013/050713-cisco-ruggedized-switches-269475.html
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Hooks UCS servers into Systems Center, fast-tracks Windows infrastructure clouds
Upstart server-maker Cisco is bounding around the Microsoft Management Summit this week in Las Vegas to talk about how it is plugging its technologies into Redmond's cloud stack.
First up, as it promised it would do back in the summer of 2011, Cisco has ported its Nexus 1000V virtual switch to run atop Microsoft's Hyper-V server virtualization hypervisor.
While Microsoft has its own virtual switch, called Hyper-V Extensible Switch, there are others that run in conjunction with Windows, such as the vNetwork switch buried inside of VMware's ESXi hypervisor. The Open vSwitch created by Nicira is popular on Linux-based virtualization platforms and is now controlled by VMware. NEC in January launched its own freebie Programmable Flow 1000 Virtual Switch for Hyper-V.
Still, support for the Nexus 1000V is important for the Windows stack because Cisco is still, by far, the dominant supplier of physical switches in the data center. And a Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which is used to link virtual machines to each other, can manage their networks as the VMs migrate around a server cluster; it looks and smells like other physical switches that run the NX-OS operating system.
Satinder Sethi, vice-president of data center solutions at Cisco, tells El Reg that Cisco has watched the adoption rate for Hyper-V growing on its UCS B-Series blade and C-Series rack servers, and moreover, that Cisco expects many enterprises to have two hypervisors running across their clusters for various political and technical reasons.
The important thing for Cisco is that its Nexus 1000V virtual switch is the common element across whatever hypervisors enterprises choose. This is why Cisco already has the Nexus 1000V plugged into Red Hat's KVM hypervisor and is working on integrating it with Citrix Systems' Xen hypervisor–which has fallen into fourth place in the server virtualization beauty pageant unless you count all of the public clouds that use either XenServer (like Rackspace Hosting does) or a tweaked homegrown Xen (as Amazon Web Services does).
Cisco is making its Nexus 1000V virtual switch and fabric extenders work with Hyper-V
The Nexus 1000V support for Hyper-V 3.0, which is based on and which works with Windows Server 2012, was expected to be delivered in late 2012. So it took a few months longer to get it together than expected. (That's IT for you.)
By the way, you don't have to run the Nexus 1000V on Cisco's servers. It works on any x86 machines using a supported hypervisor, and many of the 6,000 customers who bought it through October last year run it on non-Cisco server gear.
The Nexus 1000V comes in a freebie Essential Edition with the basic switch. The Advanced Edition that costs $695 and has a plug-in for VMware's vCenter Server management console as well as extending Cisco's TrustSec security policies for physical switches down to virtual switches. The Advanced Edition, which started shipping at the end of last year, also adds high-availability clustering across data centers for virtual switches and has a rolling upgrade process for Nexus 1000V virtual switches so you don't have to take hypervisors offline to patch the virtual switch.
The Nexus 1000V support for Hyper-V 3.0 will be available later this month.
From the get-go, VMware's ESXi hypervisor has been tightly integrated with the extended fabric at the heart of the UCS system, called the Virtual Machine Fabric Extender or VM-FEX. This takes the interfaces between the integrated UCS switch and the server nodes and virtualizes and extends them down into the server nodes with virtual network interfaces that can be set up programmatically and have its bandwidth or VM assignment changed on the fly.
Now this capability is also being extended to Hyper-V, which makes Microsoft's hypervisor a peer to ESXi at this point.
VM-FEX support for Hyper-V is available now, but Sethi says improved configuration tools are coming in the June-July timeframe to make it easier for VM-FEX and Hyper-V to work together.
Microsoft and Cisco have integrated their respective control freaks
Cisco and Microsoft have also been working together to mash up their respective systems and systems-software management tools so they work together to make Windows and Hyper-V play nice on top of Cisco UCS systems. Specifically, the APIs in UCS Manager, the control freak that runs in the embedded switch in the UCS machines, and its UCS PowerTool, which are exposed to Microsoft's Systems Center 2012 SP1 and PowerShell utility.
Cisco has created a UCS Management Pack for Systems Center Operations Manager so customers can monitor UCS hardware and Windows software from the same System Center console. There is also a UI Extension add-in for Virtual Machine Manager that can talk through UCS Manager and the Nexus 1000V switch to the virtual machines on the UCS iron.
Cisco is also talking up the fact that its UCS reference architectures are now certified to be part of the Microsoft Fast Track 3.0 reference architecture, which allows partners to use the recipes cooked up by Cisco and approved by Microsoft to build private infrastructure clouds quickly and consistently.
There is a Fast Track setup that mixes UCS systems with NetApp storage, known as FlexPod. This includes B-Series blade servers using the UCS 5108 chassis and the 6248 fabric interconnects plus Nexus 5548UP switches for the access layer linking multiple blade enclosures together. The storage systems feeding the blades are NetApp FAS3240 arrays. And of course the nodes are running the Hyper-V 3.0 hypervisor and the Windows Server 2012 operating system with all the control freakage above tossed in.
The VSPEX private cloud stacks that Cisco has built with EMC to run the Microsoft server stack can run either Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 with the appropriate Systems Center management tools and Hyper-V hypervisor. This particular Fast Track setup is based on the UCS C220 M3 rack servers linked together by Nexus 5548UP switches and also talking to EMC VNXe 3300 arrays using iSCSI over 10 Gigabit Ethernet links.
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Software-defined-networking threat leads to J.P. Morgan downgrade
Cisco Systems could feel the impact of a new trend that expands the role of software in data center networks — and it could come much sooner than expected, an analyst said.
J.P. Morgan downgraded Cisco to underweight, or sell, from neutral based on what analyst Rod Hall described as a more rapid adoption of software-defined-networking.
The move came following a strong run-up on Cisco’s shares, which have surged 25% since its last earnings report in mid-November. Cisco was trading down a fraction at $20.92 by mid-day Thursday.
Known simply as SDN, the new technology allows businesses to rely less heavily on networking hardware, using software systems used to run data centers. There’s been a debate on the potential impact of the trend, which some analysts say could hurt Cisco’s core hardware business in the long-term by turning data center switches into commodities.
In his note, Hall said he had earlier assumed that the impact of software-defined networking “would be gradual and would, therefore, not lead to a rapid decline in the unit price of an ethernet switch.” He now sees the impact from the shift to SDN coming earlier.
“Since then, we have become more convinced that SDN impacts are likely to come sooner and that those impacts will occur more rapidly when they begin,” he wrote.
In fact, Hall now projects that the “data center-oriented switching market could be reduced by as much as 33% by 2015 by technology shifts that are in motion.”
In his same note, Hall upgraded Cisco rival Juniper Networks. He noted that the company recently outlined its own SDN strategy at a recent conference, but said investors “should continue to discount Juniper’s data center opportunity until the company has results to show for their plans.” He based his upgrade on optimism around the company’s optical and router business.
The analysis of SDNs echoes the view of IDC, which put out its own report in December predicting that the worldwide market for software-defined networking would grow from $360 million in 2013 to $3.7 billion by 2016.
To be sure, Cisco is responding to the trend, and Hall noted the tech giant’s recent acquisitions of SDN-focused firms that he says “show that management is spending significant time on the area.”
In fact, the market doesn’t appear to be too worried just yet. Cisco shares have gained roughly 7% this year, and have risen 25% over the last two months, partly on expectations that it will benefit from an expected wave of corporate IT spending.
Still, Hall said Cisco “has the most at stake” with the software-defined networking trend, and “is the most exposed to the downside if SDN triggers networking commoditization.”
---Cisco PR news from marketwatch.com
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Cisco Systems Inc. isn't content to be the world's largest maker of computer networking gear. It says it wants to become the "No. 1" supplier of information technology to big businesses by broadening its offerings of services and software.
But when Cisco says "No. 1 IT Company," it doesn't mean that it's going to be the biggest-selling company. That goal is out of reach, as IBM Corp.'s revenue is twice that of Cisco.
Rather, Cisco CEO John Chambers says he wants the company to loom largest in the minds of its customers and to be the one setting the pace in the industry. Being No. 1, he says, means having the best customer satisfaction and the best profit margins for products.
The strategy statement, articulated Friday at a presentation for Wall Street analysts, follows some lean years that have seen Cisco retrench from even broader goals, which included trying to establish itself as a consumer brand and buying a maker of camcorders. The new direction will be supported by a global advertising campaign with the slogan "Tomorrow starts here." The ad campaign starts Monday.
"The play sounds a lot like the IBM story," Raymond James analyst Simon Leopold said. After the maker of mainframe computers struggled in the 1980s with the rise of cheap microprocessors and rapid changes in the industry, IBM successfully transformed itself into a company that combined consulting services, software and hardware.
For Cisco, the new playbook comes as Chambers, who is 63 and one of the longest-serving CEOs in Silicon Valley, is nearing retirement and looking to hand over to a successor in two to four years. There are two chief candidates, who appeared with Chambers on Friday: Rob Lloyd, the head of sales and product development, and Gary Moore, the chief operating officer.
"Both Rob and I are prepared to be the CEO," Moore said, adding that whoever wasn't chosen would accept the board's decision and remain with the company.
Chambers told analysts that Cisco pulls in about $6 billion from software per year and plans to double that in the next three to five years. That's not a figure the company usually breaks out, as most of its software is deeply integrated into hardware such as routers and switches, which shunt data through networks.
Analysts at the meeting were unsure how to incorporate the figure into their models, and the company didn't give a lot of specifics on how it hoped to achieve that.
Analysts also questioned how Cisco hopes to be the top player when it doesn't sell the massive storage arrays that big companies need for their data. Chambers said Cisco will keep partnering with companies that do sell storage products, including IBM and EMC Corp.
Apart from IBM, Cisco's chief competitors for the "No. 1 IT" throne are Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., SAG AG and Hewlett-Packard Co. Cisco partners closely with them, except for HP.
Chambers said the company is sticking to its forecast of growing sales by 5 percent to 7 percent per year and its earnings slightly faster, at 7 percent to 9 percent per year. Both figures represent pullbacks from the past two decades, when the San Jose, California, company often grew sales by more than 10 percent per year.
Cisco's stock fell 15 cents, or 0.7 percent, to close Friday at $19.33.
News from USA Today http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2012/12/07/cisco-grabs-for-no-1-it-company-crown/1754891/
Several of Cisco and Meraki's wireless and cloud networking market competitors say that Cisco's $1.2 billion acquisition of Meraki validates many of the moves they've already made -- and raises their profile as channel partners that much more.
Many of the wireless segment's alternative vendors told CRN Tuesday that they plan to seize on Cisco and Meraki partner's anxiety and make some channel inroads.
"Cisco paid an awfully big price for an SMB company, and it's clear they bought them for provisioning," said David Callisch, vice president of marketing for Ruckus Wireless. "I guess it makes all of us in this space look good. But if I'm a reseller and I see this, am I better off with the Meraki stuff I bought or do I look at Ruckus, which just went public and did that on the back of the channel?"
Joel Vincent, director of product marketing for Aerohive Networks, said that Cisco's choice to pay nearly three times for Meraki what it did for Airespace -- the acquisition that cemented Cisco as a wireless LAN player in 2005 -- reinforces the idea that cloud networking is on "an exciting path."
"It's Cisco's 'modus operandi' to purchase innovation that leapfrogs its current offerings," Vincent said.
Aerohive gained notices for its controller-less approach to wireless LAN, and it soon moved into cloud management behind the 2011 acquisition of startup Pareto Networks. Often viewed as another IPO candidate, as Meraki was, Aerohive is also frequently mentioned as an acquisition target for a larger vendor like an HP or Dell.
Aerohive represents a better bet for channel partners, Vincent said.
"The challenge for the Meraki team will certainly be adapting to operating as part of a vastly larger organization and the non-technology challenges that poses," Vincent said. "Channel partners should start looking for alternative products immediately because there will be channel integration, many changes in structure, and therefore margin erosion in the near-term."
Shane Buckley, CEO of Xirrus, said that with industry research pointing to 90 percent of connections in enterprises going wireless in the coming years, vendors have to get their go-to-market strategies right immediately.
"Recent Wi-Fi market activity in the IPO market and with the recent announcement by Cisco on the Meraki acquisition further validate the importance and criticality of Wi-Fi to mainstream network buying trends," Buckley said in an email to CRN Tuesday. "There is clearly no doubt that Wi-Fi is a corner stone of the IT budget, and vendors such as Xirrus with clear differentiation are well positioned as enterprises look to deliver a user experience and a wireless network that performs as well as the wired network. While we're seeing consolidation in the wireless space, Xirrus continues to focus on innovation that can help companies deal with the immediate and massive shift from wired to wireless access."
Some analysts don't see a Cisco-Meraki acquisition as particularly threatening to enterprise-focused wireless players like Aruba Networks, though certainly a problem for networking companies playing at the lower end of the market.
"While the Aruba Instant product can be sold to SMBs and K-12 markets, it primarily targets enterprise branch offices," wrote Ehud Gelblum, managing director at Morgan Stanley, in a Tuesday research note. "Yet unlike Meraki's products, Aruba's can be seamlessly upgraded to enterprise-class features, further differentiating the solution and making the Meraki acquisition largely a non-event for Aruba. The deal does appear bad for Adtran, however, in that Meraki targets the same low-end SMB Adtran's NetVanta goes after."
Richard Valera, an analyst with Needham & Company, wrote in a note: "We think Aruba's relatively new Aruba Instant product offers many of the same ease-of-deployment/management advantages of Meraki, overlaps more with Meraki than Aruba's traditional products; however, we see this nascent and quickly growing product as an incremental growth opportunity for Aruba in the midmarket rather than a meaningful piece of Aruba's business that's threatened by the Cisco/Meraki deal."
"This move validates our vision that the market is rapidly moving towards the all-wireless enterprise, and along with this, the hastening decline of wired-based primary access networks," said an Aruba spokesperson in an email to CRN. "The consumer market was the first to go all-wireless. Small businesses were next. Medium to large enterprises will follow this trend, and Aruba is laser-focused on this part of the market."
Aruba's made no secret of targeting smaller and more distributed businesses through Aruba Instant and also its distribution relationships with players like Synnex. But partners don't see Cisco-Meraki as a big threat, especially with Aruba having embraced both controller and controller-less wireless infrastructure models and with its stronghold very much in larger midmarket and enterprise customers.
"I don't think it's a threat to Aruba," said Andy Welsh, director of partner alliances for Accuvant, the Denver-based integrator. "I think Aruba's been going down that [cloud] management path for a while. What it does for Cisco is help them compete better with the Aerohives and Ruckuses. Aruba will still battle hard in those places, too, but I don't know how interested Aruba is in all those smaller deals. My experience with Meraki is that they're happy with a three-AP deal in a K-12 building."
---News resource: http://www.crn.com/news/networking/240142438/cisco-competitors-say-meraki-move-makes-them-more-attractive.htm
There comes a point in the life of most companies when they realize that no matter what they do it will never be enough to excite investors. This is a reality with which network giant Cisco must deal. Because despite recently logging its seventh consecutive earnings beat, the reaction from Wall Street resembled that of a big yawn. And I’m beginning to wonder if the company will be ever be able to overcome the dullness that have become synonymous with mature companies of its stature such as Microsoft, Intel and to a lesser extent Oracle . While investors want to believe in Cisco again, I worry that absent something to reinvigorate its growth prospects, Cisco may soon become yet another has-been fighting just to maintain its tech status.
It’s hard to find fault in what Cisco has been able to do. This is despite Wall Street’s reaction that what has been one of the most consistent performers on the market. But growth has not been something that the company has been able to produce in sufficient quantities. Nevertheless, in a market ravaged by poor enterprise IT spending, beating earnings estimates for seven consecutive quarters is nothing short of remarkable – including getting fiscal 2013 started on the right foot. But is it good enough?
Q1 Growth Continues To Be Decent, But…
For the period ending in October, Cisco reported $2.6 billion in net income, or 48 cents per share on revenues of $11.9 billion – beating analysts’ estimates on both the top and bottom lines. However, aside from exceeding estimates, it was what the numbers represented that speaks to the overall direction of the company, which included 11% profit growth and revenues that climbed 6%. But investors shrugged these off.
Also, it didn’t seem to matter that the company performed well in terms of profitability, including gross margins that improved slightly from the previous quarter, while also arriving better than expectations. Similarly, Cisco’s operating income surged 20% – helped by cost cutting and management attention towards streamlining the company’s operations.
On the other hand, that the company’s core routing and switching business continue to struggle while its services business grew 12% left investors with mixed feelings about what the company has really become – particularly with respect to the competition. Cisco is now seen as “too big” while rivals such as F5 and Juniper are seen as younger and more nimble – except, they’re facing their own set of growth challenges as well.
What’s more, despite Cisco’s perceived lack of dexterity, the company still enjoys 60% of the routing and switching market – this is despite the weak demand that segment continues to face. However, to appease investors, the company must figure out ways to maximize its enterprise dominance while also looking for growth opportunities outside of its core competency. Although the company’s recent string of acquisitions have not panned out too well, I think it is time for the company to open its wallet and give it another go.
Buying Time by Spending
Cisco will be the first to admit that it has not spent its cash particularly well. In fact the company has spent most of the past two years recovering from past shopping sprees that produced little to no returns on the company’s investments. But nevertheless, buying a company such as NetApp or perhaps newcomer Palo Alto Networks make too much sense for Cisco to ignore – particularly the latter.
For Palo Alto, although it’s a young company, it was able to produce 90% year-over-year revenue growth, which was also good enough to grow 15% sequentially. I will concede that Palo Alto is in the early stages of its business, but Cisco cannot ignore the opportunities that an acquisition might bring, especially in the areas of security. What’s more, unless the company acts quickly Cisco may find itself competing with Palo Alto as it becomes an entity of rivals like Dell, Hewlett-Packard or perhaps even Riverbed.
Cisco’s stock is cheap by many standards. Although the company’s fundamentals are strong, including a cash hoard of almost $50 billion, it seems that it is going to take more than beating estimates each quarter to get investors excited about its prospects. It is time that the company does something radical – it needs to buy something. I think NetApp’s strong storage market as well as Palo Alto’s strong growth spurt might be enough to add a little color to Cisco’s stock chart, which continues to suffer from a significant case of boredom.
---Original Review from http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardsaintvilus/2012/11/20/cisco-is-just-too-boring/
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Networking giant Cisco announced today that it is acquiring privately held cloud software vendor Cloupia for $125 million.
Cloupia develops infrastructure management software for automating data center infrastructure. The company's core product is the Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller (CUIC), which is a vendor neutral management and provisioning tool for both virtual and physical infrastructures.
The Cloupia technology will be combined into Cisco's Data Center Group, which includes the UCS server platform. Cisco already has a management platform for UCS called UCS Central, which was recently improved with a new release that provides for management of up to 10,000 servers.
Cisco's overall data center strategy is about enabling a unified physical and virtual infrastructure.
"This strategy involves the delivery of the industry’s most comprehensive data center networking portfolio, which includes physical and virtual products that support multiple hypervisors and storage stacks," David Yen, senior VP and general manager, Cisco Data Center Business Group, said in a statement. "The addition of Cloupia's automation software enhances the efficiency of such unified data center infrastructures, helping to accelerate the transition from physical to cloud environments more quickly and effectively."
Hilton Romanski, VP and Head of Corporate Business Development at Cisco, added that Cloupia’s products will integrate into the Cisco data center portfolio through UCS Manager, UCS Central, and the Nexus 1000V. The Nexus 1000V is Cisco's virtual switching platform. In Romanski's view the integration of Cloupia will strengthen Cisco's overall ecosystem strategy by providing open APIs for integration with an array of both partners and developers.
ISI analyst Brian Marshall commented that, in his view, the acquisition of Cloupia by Cisco reflects the growing importance of automation/management capabilities as the industry gradually moves to software-defined datacenters.
The acquisition of Cloupia isn't the first such automation acquisition that Cisco has done in recent years. In 2009, Cisco acquired Tidal Software for $105 million. Tidal builds workload automation software that Cisco continues to develop. Cisco also has its own Intelligent Automation for Cloud (IAC) solution that includes technology assets from Tidal as well as other prior acquisitions.
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