Cisco sees room to grow, despite enterprise dominance

Cisco enterprise exec touts collaboration, unified communications offerings

With dominance in enterprise networking, Cisco still believes there's room to grow through innovation.

The company owns 70% of the market in enterprise switching and 82% in enterprise routing, according to Senior Vice President Tony Bates, citing market data from Dell'Oro Group. Yet Bates, who heads the Cisco enterprise, commercial and small business division, told attendees at

Cisco's annual analyst conference this week that the company can build on that through market transitions like video, virtualization and collaboration.

"There's an opportunity to drive enterprise strategies and business imperatives," he said. "To adopt new business models to capture global markets; to change the experience [by allowing the] network to enable collaboration and partnerships. Maximizing productivity is a key imperative."

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The foundation of Cisco's enterprise strategy is Borderless Networks, a concept introduced in October to deliver services and applications to anyone anywhere, regardless of device or network technology. Borderless Networks is intended to support applications, processing cycles and services that are increasingly distributed and virtualized, such as those in cloud computing and software-as-a-service environments.

It represents Cisco's next-generation enterprise architecture, Bates said, and with it Cisco intends to play in a $91 billion total addressable market .

"The opportunity is very large," Bates says.

Though Cisco sees room for further growth in what many view as a mature market, the company is not without its challenges, analysts note."Collaboration, virtualization and video are key transition markets for Cisco, utilizing its core competency in network infrastructure, and extending for new growth," states UBS analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos in a bulletin on the analyst conference. "Importantly, the competitive landscape is shifting with HP expanding into networking, Microsoft keenly"Cisco is integrating virtualization, collaboration and video and the network together as an architecture," says Ittai Kidron of Oppenheimer & Co. "We believe this approach allows Cisco to differentiate and enhances the strategic value of the network. Despite switching and routing share losses with HP a rising threat and IBM partnering with competitors, Cisco expects to regain share driven by product refreshes."

focused on [unified communications]/collaboration/software share, and IBM and Dell OEM's of Juniper and Brocade equipment ramping in (the second half of 2010) likely challenging Cisco."

An example of a Borderless Network application is Cisco's Enterprise Collaboration Platform, a customizable interface that integrates communications and collaboration tools with business applications for enterprises seeking to improve productivity and integrate distributed teams. ECP is built on Cisco's Unified Communications, WebEx, and Show and Share products, and is integrated with Microsoft Exchange.

Currently targeted at intra-company collaboration, ECP's next opportunity will be as a real-time, inter-company collaboration tool.

"Static information is a thing of the past," Bates said. "We want to create a federated, trusted, secure way for companies to collaborate – that's the single biggest thing the network will bring."

A way to achieve that will be to develop "flexible consumption models" for ECP and other applications, Bates said, such as harnessing Cisco's newly-acquired ScanSafe SaaS-based secure messaging infrastructure to connect ECP clients.

Data center virtualization is another area Cisco says is less about product innovation, and more about unique operational delivery or impact. To that end, Bates touched on Cisco's Unified Computing System and its role in changing the way organizations build, operate and manage their data centers through its tight integration with storage and virtualization. A key delivery mechanism for this is the recently-formed Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition between Cisco, EMC and VMware.

"It's not about a unique product; it's how to create value for customers, Bates said. "It's about bringing network and compute together. The innovation to highlight is not UCS, but bringing together the best in storage, networking and virtualization.

"We have to transform our vision and execution to stay leaders," Bates added. "We will continue to focus on core networking, continue to enhance and extend that and drive innovation. And [consider] different ways of going to market, like VCE."

The message was virtually the same from Cisco's Service Provider business – become a partner to service providers in their effort to tap revenue from new services and service delivery models, said Pankaj Patel, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Service Provider business.

"We want to lead the transition from service provider to experience provider," Patel said at the analyst conference. "It's a great opportunity in front of us, a terrific opportunity, and I'm confident with our position."

Patel said Cisco's total addressable market is $41.5 billion in delivering infrastructure for mobile Internet, video and connected home, and cloud-based managed service delivery.

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