Cisco Systems is looking at equipment for public data carriers as a growing part of its business and will increasingly ally itself with service providers in a way that brings Cisco's strengths in enterprise networking to the public network arena.
So said Larry Lang, Cisco's vice president of service provider marketing, in a speech here today at NetWorld+Interop.
Cisco's Service Provider Line of Business now accounts for 40 percent of Cisco's revenues, and with 80 percent annual revenue growth it is the fastest-growing Cisco business line, said Lang.
Cisco, which exceeded Wall Street's expectations for its third quarter yesterday, hopes to capitalize on trends it has identified in corporate enterprise marketing to develop carrier equipment that will help its service provider customers offer public network versions of services seen more commonly in enterprise networks, Lang said.
Following the Internet's rise to its now-prominent position in internal communications in the corporate world, Cisco thinks that applications sharing between and among businesses and their customers, suppliers and partners will drive demand for applications-oriented public network services, he said.
"We see a new shift of applications outward to suppliers, partners and even to shareholders," leading to greater need for public-network-oriented services that easily traverse the boundaries between enterprises and their trading communities, said Lang.
Given Cisco's traditional strengths in the enterprise, that trend puts the vendor in a unique position to produce equipment with hybrid capabilities that meld the flexibility and efficiency of data and IP with the ubiquity, performance and reliability of more conventional circuit-switched voice networks, Lang told an audience of several thousand.
The trend "puts us in a unique position to serve as a catalyst in this new world order," Lang observed, since Cisco can blend its enterprise expertise with carrier-grade capabilities it has developed or acquired.
Lang's message played well among IT professionals attending the show, especially those who see intercompany networks carrying complex applications as too difficult for individual enterprises to develop and operate on their own.
As a corporate IT manager trying to handle increasingly complex and widespread networks, "If you think you're going to be able to do it by yourself, it's going to be tough," said Christopher Ratliff, director of IT technical services at Life Fitness, a division of Brunswick a maker of computerised exercise equipment.
Given Cisco's background, the vendor would be a logical supplier of an emerging generation of applications-enhanced networking gear to service providers, said Ratliff.
But public network services carry certain expectations of security, performance and reliability, and Cisco needs to focus on providing fail-safe security and reliability on its carrier platforms, Ratliff added.
"As the networking industry continues to explode, security is going to be a huge issue, and while Cisco is keyed into security it would be helpful if they try to reassure customers that their platforms are absolutely secure," Ratliff said.
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