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Contributing Writer

Cisco’s “Kitchen Sink” Product Announcements

Oct 07, 20103 mins
Cisco SystemsData and Information SecurityIBM

Company is attacking on all fronts while supporting a unifying strategy

Did you see the series of announcements Cisco made this week? It was pretty impressive. This is the traditional season where Cisco announces products and new initiatives but this week’s announcements were very extensive — new switches, routers, security devices, wireless access points, WAN optimization equipment, etc.In its marketing mastery, Cisco related all of these announcements to two core strategic initiatives, data center virtualization and borderless networks. In other words, Cisco is talking about the way IT applications and services are hosted (central data centers, virtualization, cloud), and the way they are accessed (wired and wireless networks, security, access control).Cisco is clearly demonstrating that it plays in a different space then it used to. It’s all about industries, business processes, and enterprise IT now; the network simply glues all the pieces together. So why all these announcements at once? Doesn’t this water down the individual piece parts? I don’t think so. Cisco is actually doubling down on integration across its products with an overall strategy aimed at:1. Competing on all fronts. In one day, Cisco delivered a response to a spectrum of IT vendors like Aruba, Check Point, Juniper Networks, and Riverbed. Cisco may not have the “best-of-breed” product in each category but it is reinforcing the message that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 2. Out executing the big competition. Cisco is betting that it can deliver technology integration and enterprise IT initiatives faster than its primary competitors — HP and IBM. There is some precedent here, HP and IBM business units haven’t always worked together well so Cisco believes it can capitalize on its organizational structure and market momentum.Now I realize that the “integrated stack” story has limited value today since customers have a history of buying servers from HP, wired networks from Cisco, Wi-fi from Aruba, storage from EMC, etc. That said, IT is radically changing. For example, ESG Research indicates that server virtualization is driving a lot more cooperation across disparate functional IT groups. As these organization comes together, its only natural that they will look for common solutions from fewer vendors. In the meantime, service providers and financially-strapped organizations (i.e. State/local government, higher education, real estate, etc.) will look for IT savings anywhere they can, even if it means moving away from some vendors with relatively stronger point products in the process.Cisco also has a services opportunity in that it gets to play services Switzerland and partner with companies like Accenture, CSC, and Unisys in competition with IBM Global Services and HP/EDS.Lots of people knock Cisco products and point to better, faster, cheaper alternatives. Maybe, but the overall Cisco story seems pretty strong to me. As of Tuesday, Cisco has a bunch of new products that supports its corporate strategy and make its story even stronger.

Contributing Writer

Jon Oltsik is a distinguished analyst, fellow, and the founder of the ESG’s cybersecurity service. With over 35 years of technology industry experience, Jon is widely recognized as an expert in all aspects of cybersecurity and is often called upon to help customers understand a CISO's perspective and strategies. Jon focuses on areas such as cyber-risk management, security operations, and all things related to CISOs.

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