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Cisco Australia pressured to fill US, EU gap

The Australian, New Zealand and Asian arm of Cisco is under pressure to fill the revenue shortfall left by struggling European and US markets, according to Les Williamson, Cisco vice president of the area.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Australian, New Zealand and Asian arm of Cisco is under pressure to fill the revenue shortfall left by struggling European and US markets, according to Les Williamson, Cisco vice president of the area.


Les Williamson
(Credit: Les Williamson image by CiscoANZ, CC2.0)

Speaking to journalists at the Cisco Live conference in Melbourne this morning, Williamson said that there has been "a lot of pressure" for the Asia-Pacific division of the company to "balance out the portfolios" where US and European markets are struggling amid a US recession and turmoil in the European markets.

"[For example] at the moment, Japan is picking up the slack of a pretty soft India," he said.

Indonesia, Korea and Thailand are particularly robust for the company, Williamson said, with Thailand seeing a lot of reinvestment in network equipment after the floods last year.

Emerging markets, such as Russia, Brazil, China, Mexico and India will play a key role for the company, currently making up about one fifth of Cisco, and are expected to fuel 40 per cent of Cisco's growth over the next five years.

The company will focus on its core "plumbing" business of routing, switch, security and mobility, Williamson said, while adding that the company has grown to become the second biggest seller of blades in the last 12 months. He said that through the company's expansion into the datacentre market, there is a much bigger market in Australia and New Zealand for Cisco to get into.

"We are very comfortable with the addressable market opportunity in Australia and New Zealand," he said. "Our customers are now talking about buying centres we would never [have] had the right to talk to them about — predominantly, datacentre and the desktop environment."

The other strength for Cisco is its partnerships with software and consultancy companies, like SAP and Citrix, Williamson said.

"We are developing and building this additional new value chain partners, and I'm very happy with the movement we've made there," he said. "It positions you in certain hierarchies in enterprise and government. We've kept the relevance there, but we've extended into these different buying centres."

Much of the company's focus in talking to Australian businesses is directed at changing business cultures towards bringing more mobility into the workplace through virtualisation and bring your own devices (BYO).

"The cultural aspects and the business-process change that needs to take place ... is where we spend a lot of time focusing," he said.

But video will also be critical for Cisco, Williamson said, pointing to the recent acquisition of US video-platform organisation NDS Group for US$5 billion.

Cisco today also announced a number of new Cisco TelePresence wins, with ANZ Private Bank completing a trial of telepresence equipment across its network with Cisco and Optus. The Wealth Presence system allows clients to meet face to face with private wealth managers across Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

The trial kicked off in September 2011, and was completed in February 2012, with ANZ Private Bank looking to roll it out across the board. At present, the bank is conducting around 15 meetings with clients per week using the technology, but it is growing by the day.

ANZ Private Bank chief operating officer Angus Gilfillan told journalists that security is "of the utmost importance" for these high-rolling clients, and that each telepresence unit is behind the ANZ firewall, protected by the usual systems that protect other sensitive financial data held by the bank. In light of all the precautions that the company had taken, he said that privacy concerns haven't come up when speaking to customers.

"We find that clients, it hasn't really been an issue. We have private suites around the country that are tailored for these kinds of conversations. They see it as more secure than that, because they can see who they're talking to."

Cisco also announced that it worked with academic research network operator AARNet to launch telepresence exchange across six Melbourne-based universities, which will allow students and staff to connect to 71 universities and 13 colleges worldwide.

"It's exciting, because we're probably the second group to do that in the world," Chris Hancock, CEO of AARNet said. "It allows the collaborations around the country and around the world to integrate with each other."

There are currently six Cisco TelePresence units deployed across the universities, but this will be expanded to 35 across Australia by the end of June.

Josh Taylor travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.

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