Cisco continues to battle cloud burst

Rescinds default cloud admin service on Linksys routers amidst uproar

Continuing to face a backlash on the nuances of its Linksys routers, Cisco this week updated a blog post attempting to clarify its intent on sending users to its cloud-based administration service. Late last week and earlier this week, users voiced outrage that Cisco had automatically updated their Linksys EA series routers to take them to the Cisco Connect Cloud service for administration and management.

That was one irritation - some users had not requested an update in the first place and did not want to administer their routers through the cloud service. The cloud administration tool had a limited interface that lacked some of the management features they were accustomed to with local management software.

Then the clincher: terms of the Cisco Connect Cloud service suggested Cisco could comb through your Internet activity and other usage data at will, share it with third-parties such as your ISP, and then deny you service if you're surfing porn sites or engaging in what Cisco might consider piracy.

In its initial blog post late last week, Cisco said the automatic firmware update was only intended for those that requested to opt in for it, and that it should have been clearer on how to opt out. Cisco also admitted the whole automatic update/default Connect Cloud administration/usage collection practice/anti-porn and anti-piracy terms-of-service exercise was a mistake.

Fire extinguished, right? Wrong. After continued outrage from customers and repeated whippings in the blogosphere, Cisco issued another blog post from Brett Wingo, its home networking chief, on July 5 attempting to douse the controversy once and for all.

In it, Wingo insists, among other claims, that Linksys EA users are not required to sign up for the Cisco Connect Cloud service; that Linksys routers are not used to collect information on Internet usage; and that Cisco will not arbitrarily disconnect users from the cloud service based on how they are using the Internet.

Wingo apologized again for the "confusion and inconvenience" and pledged to do the right thing by Cisco customers.

On a macro level, chalk this one up to the immaturity of cloud computing/networking and the sometimes irrational exuberance of companies looking to take us there. This cloud stuff obviously requires more thought, prudence and precision, and the migration cannot be taken lightly nor forced onto anyone according to the agenda and terms of the vendor or service provider. The clouds for computing and networking are always threatening and ominous -- not the light, airy, fluffy ones that reinforce an air of buoyancy.

On a micro level, chalk it up to another in a continued string of missteps by Cisco in the consumer space, as noted here by All Things Digital. Flip, umi, Linksys Media Hub, Linksys Connect Cloud... It leads one to wonder when Cisco might realize the game is up and throw in the towel. There were signs even before the Flip debacle that Cisco really didn't know what it was getting into. Dominance in enterprise networking doesn't automatically translate into success in adjacent markets.

Cloud is reminding Cisco of that yet again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Duffy will be on vacation from July 9-23. His Cisco Connection blog posts will resume the week of July 23.

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