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The 10 most powerful companies in networking

Industry-shaping technology visions, strong financials and market domination - these network vendors stand out among all others. Here we rank them, 1 to 10.

By Network World Staff, Network World
December 22, 2003 12:12 AM ET

1. Cisco: Infrastructure might, network industry bellwether

Network World - Biggest announcement in 2003: True 10G switch. In April, Cisco released the Supervisory Engine 720, a module for the Catalyst 6500 family that brings these switches true10G-bit/sec performance. Before this, 8G was the max.

Financial track record:
Q1 FY '04 net income of $1.1 billion.
Q4 FY '03 net income of $991 million.
Q3 FY '03 net income of $987 million.
Q2 FY '03 net income of $982 million.

Power of numbers: No. 1 worldwide in Ethernet switching and enterprise/service provider routers. No. 14 on the Network World 200 (NW200), our annual list of the top 200 network vendors (click here).

What's on tap for 2004? Cisco will aggressively pursue the next billion-dollar infrastructure markets - storage, security and IP telephony - via internal development and technology acquisition.

Powerful 2003 customer win: Verizon selected the 12000 Series LATA core/service edge routers to support its national IP VPN network. Terms for the deal, announced in October, were not disclosed.

Acquisitions: In January, Cisco acquired Okena, an intrusion-prevention vendor, in a $154 million deal. In March, Cisco announced a $500 million deal to buy Linksys, for wired and wireless consumer/small office/home office devices; and SignalWorks, for IP telephony technology, in a $13.5 million deal. In November, it grabbed conferencing vendor Latitude Communications in a deal valued at about $80 million.

"We will not just play defense; we will play offense as well."
- John Chambers, CEO

2. IBM: A giant in every way

Biggest announcements in 2003: Mainframes, on-demand and grid. In May, IBM announced the T-Rex mainframe, its most powerful mainframe to date, and made yearlong additions to its on-demand IT services portfolio and grid computing applications, all of which positions it to dominate the competition for the next-generation data center.

Financial track record:
Q3 FY '03 net income of $1.8 billion.
Q2 FY '03 net income of $1.7 billion.
Q1 FY '03 net income of $1.4 billion.
Q4 FY '02 net income of $1.0 billion.

Power of numbers: No. 1 worldwide in network and system management software, relational database management systems, Java application-server software, portals and integration software, and mainframes. Plans to add 10,000 new jobs in 2004, according to CEO Sam Palmisano. No. 1 on the NW200.

What's on tap for 2004? Reorganization of its $13 billion software division around vertical industry product sets; more on-demand, utility computing wares across IBM's hardware, software and services businesses; and component versions of its middleware, starting with WebSphere Application Server.

Powerful 2003 wins: In February, IBM landed a 10-year, $2 billion outsourcing contract with auto-parts maker Visteon. In July, it convinced Lego to rip out its HP-based server and storage infrastructure and replace it with IBM products, terms undisclosed.

Acquisitions: In May, IBM acquired Think Dynamics for its automated server provisioning software; got content management tools from Aptrix in July; snagged the application porting services business of Sector7 in September, and gained mainframe database integration technology from CrossAccess in October. Terms for all deals were undisclosed.

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