& cplSiteName &

Cisco Charts a New Future in IT

Craig Matsumoto
12/7/2012
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) thinks it's time to take over the IT sector.

The company is launching a new strategy to emphasize service and software, taking advantage of the fact that IT has become more about the network than about the computer. That transition has been apparent for years now, and Cisco thinks it's time to pounce, to complete the transition to an IT vendor as opposed to a communications vendor.

"Most of our sales in the future will be heavily integrated with services," CEO John Chambers said in announcing the strategy on Friday. "Services are going to go from 20 to 21 percent of our business to 25 and beyond that if we execute right."

The percentage numbers might not seem impressive, but they represent the start of a major shift in Cisco's business. Going beyond routers and network architectures, Cisco now wants to provide an "Internet of everything," comprising major projects, such as water delivery for cities or smart highways populated by networked cars.

A new marketing campaign, with the theme "Tomorrow starts here" launches on Monday to back up the new philosophy. The campaign will be big and relentless, Chambers promised, full of interactive ads and social media.

Running the numbers
More subtly, the services focus means accepting that Cisco is no longer a hot growth company.

"We comfortably believe our long-term growth is in the 5 to 7 percent range," Chambers said. "For the last 10 years, we've been in the high end of that range." (Put more cynically, it means Cisco fell short of the 12 to 17 percent growth it predicted not so long ago.)

What's important about that 5 to 7 percent is to get revenues to occur more smoothly, Chambers said. By shifting emphasis to services and software, the company hopes to develop a base of recurring revenues to do just that.

Services are already in position there, representing $10 billion per year in revenues. The services business has been growing at 10 percent per year for 12 years, with gross margins of 65 percent, Chambers said.

Cisco's software sales will have to change, however, Chambers said. Software will continue to be tightly integrated with Cisco's hardware and Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), but Cisco will have to learn how to charge for it on a recurring basis, letting customers pay for it as they add capabilities or expand networks.

Chambers thinks Cisco has a shot at doubling its standalone software revenues to $12 billion per year in the next three to five years.

Then there's security. As kind of a sub-goal within the larger IT goal, Chambers has tasked Senior Vice President Chris Young with trying to turn Cisco into the industry's top security player, increasing market share to 50 percent from the current 32 percent. It's a risky attempt that might not work out, Chambers admitted out loud Friday. Chambers's endgame
So, what makes Cisco belive it can pull this off? In Friday's talk, Chambers set the stage by pointing out, as he often does, that Cisco has managed to overtake the competition in many other major market transitions, the most recent being the company's entry into data-center servers.

In the services area, Chambers is playing off what he's been touting as Cisco's strengths: an ability to think big, an affinity for creating interwoven architectures of hardware and software, and really close ties with governments and the largest enterprises.

It's hard not to draw parallels to IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which transformed from a computer company into more of a consultancy. Chambers, of course, previously worked at IBM and at Wang Laboratories, two technology giants whose power eventually crumbled.

The new strategy, whether it works or not, is likely to become Chambers's legacy at Cisco. He has told the media he's expecting to retire within four years.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (0) comments


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
Order From Chaos: The Steve Saunders BCE Keynote

5|24|17   |   17:27   |   (0) comments


Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability testing.
Think of this as the video sequel to the recent columns he's written about NFV and the prospect of a telecom app store. (See

LRTV Documentaries
Service Provider Panel: Partnering in the Digital Era

5|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Coopetition has always been part of telecom, but the ecosphere now includes data centers, vendors, apps developers, cloud service providers and Internet content providers. This BCE 2017 panel explores the new attitudes among network operators as to the value and variety of ...
LRTV Interviews
Site Demo: AT&T's IoT Flow Platform

5|19|17   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


At AT&T's R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel, project leader Eyal Segev talks about the operator's Flow platform and how it helps to prototype IoT applications.
LRTV Documentaries
Agent of Change: A Q&A With AT&T's John Donovan

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson talks with the man leading AT&T's transformation efforts about the challenge of change.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE Service Provider Panel: The New Business Realities

5|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


For virtualization to happen, the telecom industry first has to grapple with key functional aspects of SDN and NFV that need to be universal, such as onboarding of virtualized network functions and federation of software-defined networks.
LRTV Interviews
BCE Service Provider Keynote: CenturyLink

5|16|17   |   22:32   |   (0) comments


Aamir Hussain leads the Product Development and Technology organization at CenturyLink, which includes the company's information technology function. He is an experienced senior technology executive with more than 25 years of proven success in the implementation of global technology operations, operationalization of complex technology, infrastructures and business ...
Upcoming Live Events
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Fright Wigs & Cocktails: BCE 2017 in Pics
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 5/19/2017
Apple Looking to Cook 5G Test Devices
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. Well cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.