Are they a contender or pretender? Can Huawei survive in North America?

Will enterprise customers take a chance on them?

As everyone knows Huawei tried to make a big splash at Interop with a booth to rival Cisco's booth, matter of fact they were side by side on the Interop floor. But the question was how did they do and will they make it in North America?

I took many trips to the booth and watched many presentations, let just say they have a long way to go. On one of my trips I had the chance to talk to Thomas Keenan Senior Marketing Manager. While asking questions about the products line and acquiring brochures I asked him a few questions about the company. The first question was "since coming into the USA market how many customers do you have so far"? He said "I cannot tell you". I then asked "how are the company sales going in the USA"? He said he "cannot tell you that either". He said I could contact Mark Burnworth to set up a briefing.  I figured if they refused to answer easy questions there is no need for a meeting.

One another blog by Jon Oltsik he had the chance to talk to Huawei also. They told him Huawei will focus first on financially-challenged/low regulation industries that need enterprise-class low-priced alternatives to Cisco. This tells me that they have no chance against Cisco or really any other vendor like HP or Arista Networks.  It seems to me they might be competing against HP also when customers are looking at price.

They also told Jon they will add developers in the US to customize its product for the local market due to security concerns in the USA with a China Vendor. I don't think this will work for most companies and they already have a bad go to market strategy.  The only way they are going to sell product in the USA is to somehow get customers comfortable that there are no security concerns with their software or appliances. By them telling this to Jon, I think they have already given up.

If we go back in time Cisco sued Huawei claiming they stole code, customers don't forget things like that and it was brought up at Interop in conversations I had.

But no one I talked to said they were willing to take the chance on the company, that's something Huawei is going to need to work on if they will succeed in the USA. They might be Cisco's biggest competition outside the USA do to their pricing, but I don't think Chambers has too much to worry about.  

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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