Gartner: Cisco CEO John Chambers talks HP, tech complexity and patent trolls

Company direction, patents, competition, lawsuits part of wide-ranging interview with Gartner analysts

ORLANDO -- Cisco CEO John Chambers sat down with Gartner analysts for a wide-ranging and interesting interview at the Gartner Symposium/Itxpo today.  The upbeat CEO chatted about everything from the company's greatest challenges in his 17 years at the helm to how he views the completion and many other topics.

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Here's a look at the highlights:

On the competition:

  • "Any of the top six vendors who thinks they'll be in that top six five years from now for sure will be wrong. Out of the six of us at best four or three will be in the top five years from now." Of course Chambers thought Cisco is obviously in the top six now and will be in five years. Chambers also thought Oracle would be on that short list as well but didn't name who else he thought might be there.
  • On HP: "HP is a good company that lost its way. It is an important company for Silicon Valley." He went on to say he thinks new CEO Meg Whitman will go a long way toward righting the HP ship. "Of course when we are competing against them we'll do everything we can to win."

On Cisco issues:

  • "I would only give us a fair mark in terms of ease of use," Chambers said. "Complexity is an inhibitor to IT. Complexity will slow us all down." Chambers said Cisco is working to reduce complexity going forward.
  • Chambers celebrated the fact that customers used to think the company was difficult to deal with but recent surveys show that trend has been reversed and now "we are in the top 10 list of companies that are easy to do business with."
  • "We are going to move on multiple fronts with software," Chambers said. Cisco's goal is to double software revenue over the next five years, Chambers added. "The industry is set up for an open software player that integrates with every device."

On lawsuits:

"IT companies should not be suing peers," Chambers said.  Suing each other "slows down the industry. It is a mess. It is unacceptable. Patent trolls are everywhere. "

Chambers in fact went a step further and added if it were up to him he'd like to see the whole patent system trashed and started over again from scratch.

On government regulations:

Chambers: "There is a real danger from regulation, mostly because it can stifle innovation. However he did add that "regulation for legitimate issues," can be part of the conversation.   

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