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Optical/IP

Cisco Shouts Out for Voice

In a set of announcements today, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) emphasized its plans for end-to-end multiservice support -- that is, for adding voice throughout a data network.

Four similar-sounding initiatives represent Cisco's latest push for attention in the voice-services world: the Broadband Local Integrated Services Solution (BLISS) for metro Ethernet; the Voice Infrastructure and Applications (VIA) framework for transport networks; and two sets of features targeted at managed voice services (no clever acronyms).

The idea is to show that Cisco's extant equipment has been tested for interoperability in multiservice networks, particularly for voice traffic. Cisco emphasizes that there's a lot of work behind these acronyms. For example, BLISS encompasses more than two years of integration and testing efforts, says John Shaw, director of marketing.

"To a service provider it's very significant that Cisco has defined and deployed service support at a 'solution' level and not at a box level," he says.

Of course, the importance of voice support hasn't gone unnoticed at rival Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR). Coincidentally, Juniper began its own multiservice thrust today, announcing a new market strategy and a handful of product enhancements (see Juniper Targets Carrier Services).

Voice has been a stumbling block for Cisco and has contributed to the company's troubles getting telco carrier business. "Sure, they can get CLECs to use their equipment," says Kevin Mitchell, analyst with Infonetics Research Inc., noting that Cisco funded some of those CLECs (see Cisco's Learning Experience). "But in terms of full-blown voice deployments in IXCs and RBOCs and incumbent players, they haven't been very successful."

Mitchell notes that the interoperability among networked devices could be important, particularly due to the slightly different spin each vendor places on QOS (quality if service). Likewise, problems could arise as traffic is handed from one carrier's network to another. "For voice-over-IP and more, that's going to be a real problem for carriers to solve," he says.

In addition to its new initiatives, Cisco announced some customers using its network-wide multiservice offerings. BLISS has been implemented at FastWeb SpA, an Italian service provider, and at Bredbandsbolaget AB (B2), a Swedish service provider. VIA is in use with carriers' carrier ITXC Corp. (Nasdaq: ITXC) and Singapore-based SingTel.

Announced customers for "managed voice services" -- by which Cisco gives service providers the ability to manage an enterprise's IP telephony network or multiservice virtual private network -- include Equant (NYSE: ENT; Paris: EQU) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON).

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com Want to know more? This week, the big cheeses of the optical networking industry are discussing multiservice switching at LightSpeed Europe. Check it out at http://www.lightspeedeurope.com .

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deepciscothroat 12/4/2012 | 9:15:18 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice What a load of garbanzo beans!!!!

John Shaw, not sure why we still have him (still floating around from the failed Summa4 acquistion)

Carriers are not going to fall for this. Wish John would get back to focusing on making enterprise business successful --with Extreme and Foundry making a serious run at our flank -- and not pandering to service providers.

If we want to be in this business, we have to accept the full responsibility of support and service

Cheap trick for analyst day. Hate this. Gotta leave!
willywilson 12/4/2012 | 9:15:17 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice Why Cisco won't break into voice in our lifetimes, unless maybe they buy what's left of Lucent or Nortel:

1. Cisco boxes aren't carrier class. You know, NEBS, Osmine, etc. They've made some improvements, but they're still not up to par.

2. Cisco isn't modular. When you upgrade Cisco, you upgrade your whole network at once rather than gradually as with the others.

3. Cisco's culture is defined by arrogant California "netheads" who have abundantly communicated their disdain for "Bellheads," who happen to be the customer.

4. Cisco's software isn't rock-solid.

5. Cisco's answer to five-nines is to plant propaganda in the trade press saying that no one needs it. Unfortunately for Cisco, this crap doesn't fly in the lifeline voice world.

6. Cisco's customer service is unresponsive.

7. Cisco doesn't understand that the Bells expect the stuff to last a LONG time.
Iipoed 12/4/2012 | 9:15:16 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice So your point is? Every #$$%^^^&*&%%$j company out there would gladly trade places with Cisco any day. They are the standard. Anyone out there that does not understand this is an idiot..
Iipoed 12/4/2012 | 9:15:15 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice Name me one carrier, one clec, one second tier carrier or any ISP that does not have a significant amount of Cisco gear in their POPs. $$ volume to the bells they probably are number ONE. Sure an Alcatel or NT may sell a couple of big CO switches but Crisoc sells thousands of boxes in every size shape and function.
ip-eng 12/4/2012 | 9:15:15 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice >They are the standard

They are doing really well. They are probably the standard when it comes to IP and how to setup enterprise networks.

lipoed can you give us more details on whether they are the #1 seller to the bells?



beowulf888 12/4/2012 | 9:15:11 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice Let's take Willy's statements one at a time...
>1. Cisco boxes aren't carrier class. You know, >NEBS, Osmine, etc. They've made some improvements, >but they're still not up to par.

The equipment they sell in the Telco space are totally NEBs compliant. OSMINE is a different story. As ex-Cisco person who had a product that went through the OSMINE certification, it took us more than 18 months to get through the process. And we hired a bunch of ex-Bellcore/Telcordia coordinate the process (maybe that was problem ;-).

>2. Cisco isn't modular. When you upgrade Cisco, >you upgrade your whole network at once rather than >gradually as with the others.

Huh? What are you talking about? All of Cisco's top end routers and switches are modular.

>3. Cisco's culture is defined by arrogant >California "netheads" who have abundantly >communicated their disdain for "Bellheads," who >happen to be the customer.

Hmmm. Do a sense a little hostility here? Strangely enough, Cisco does rather well with foreign carriers -- they don't seem to mind Cisco's "arrogance".

>4. Cisco's software isn't rock-solid.

Couldn't agree with you more on that one. But what's the development cycle for big iron switch software? And what's the development time for ITU standards? Answer: vvvvveeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy lllllooonnnngggg. You get a few new features every couple of years, and the vendor has a year to test it out for bugs. On the IETF side of the world things move a lot faster. Is it surprising that Cisco software isn't rock solid? On the other hand, if the Telco's want to play in the data space with the latest greatest most up-to-datest features, well there will always be a risk.

>5. Cisco's answer to five-nines is to plant >propaganda in the trade press saying that no one >needs it. Unfortunately for Cisco, this crap >doesn't fly in the lifeline voice world.

Another myth is that RBOCs provide five-nines of service to their customers. At best, my phone service last year was 99.995. And as a person who has managed corporate WANs, I know that an SLA isn't worth much when you read the fine print. So the RBOCs should not lecture anyone about five-nines. Careful, you might actually believe your own marketing people. Big mistake.

>6. Cisco's customer service is unresponsive.

Funny, customers continue to rate Cisco's TAC as the best in the business. However (I can't resist a dig), RBOCs seem to want endless handholding. I guess that's why LU and NT's big iron is so expensive -- they have to factor in 10 engineers to be on the customer site year round.

>7. Cisco doesn't understand that the Bells expect >the stuff to last a LONG time.

True. But then running systems whose signaling protocols date back twenty years doesn't give you much opportunity to expand into new markets. Seems like if that pesky Internet hadn't come along, we'd all be happy with POTS. Uggghhh.

cheers,
--Beo
dwdmguy 12/4/2012 | 9:15:09 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice I just did a search on cisco.com and found the following to be true of their optical products:

ONS 15454 is NEBS and OSMINE compliant is is deployed at AT&T.

ONS 15600 (new MSSP) is NEBS and OSMINE compliant

willywilson 12/4/2012 | 9:15:05 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice So your point is? Every #$$%^^^&*&%%$j company out there would gladly trade places with Cisco any day. They are the standard. Anyone out there that does not understand this is an idiot.

============

Cisco is NOT the standard in the voice market, and their sales to the Regional Bells have been quite weak. And they're not necessarily leaders in data, either, as evidenced by their failure in the DSLAM business.
willywilson 12/4/2012 | 9:15:05 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice 1. The equipment they sell in the Telco space are totally NEBs compliant. OSMINE is a different story. As ex-Cisco person who had a product that went through the OSMINE certification, it took us more than 18 months to get through the process. And we hired a bunch of ex-Bellcore/Telcordia coordinate the process.

2. Huh? What are you talking about? All of Cisco's top end routers and switches are modular.

3. Hmmm. Do a sense a little hostility here? Strangely enough, Cisco does rather well with foreign carriers -- they don't seem to mind Cisco's "arrogance".

4. Couldn't agree with you more on that one. But what's the development cycle for big iron switch software? And what's the development time for ITU standards? Answer: vvvvveeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy lllllooonnnngggg. You get a few new features every couple of years, and the vendor has a year to test it out for bugs. On the IETF side of the world things move a lot faster. Is it surprising that Cisco software isn't rock solid? On the other hand, if the Telco's want to play in the data space with the latest greatest most up-to-datest features, well there will always be a risk.

5. Another myth is that RBOCs provide five-nines of service to their customers. At best, my phone service last year was 99.995. And as a person who has managed corporate WANs, I know that an SLA isn't worth much when you read the fine print. So the RBOCs should not lecture anyone about five-nines. Careful, you might actually believe your own marketing people. Big mistake.

6. Funny, customers continue to rate Cisco's TAC as the best in the business. However (I can't resist a dig), RBOCs seem to want endless handholding. I guess that's why LU and NT's big iron is so expensive -- they have to factor in 10 engineers to be on the customer site year round.

7. True. But then running systems whose signaling protocols date back twenty years doesn't give you much opportunity to expand into new markets. Seems like if that pesky Internet hadn't come along, we'd all be happy with POTS. Uggghhh.

==========

I should say for starters that I am NOT an current or former Bell employee. I do know a bunch of them quite well, though, from field level all the way up to the top. The stuff I wrote has been told to me, and I verified it to the best of my ability.

1. You may well be right on this. In my original statement I said Cisco was getting better on hardening their boxes. They accomplished this by going outside -- to Advanced Fibre, I believe.

2. "Modular" might be the wrong word. What I am told is that when Cisco introduces new features, they tend to do so in a way that obsoletes the older boxes and requires a network-wide upgrade, i.e., the new stuff won't be backward compatible and so the customer needs to buy all new boxes.

This approach absolutely, positively does not work with the ILECs and it never will.

3. I can't tell you how many people within the ILECs have said to me that they are happy that the shoe is now on the other foot with regard to Cisco. A bunch of this is cultural. The Cisco people exude disdain for the Bells. Not a good thing when they're holding the checkbook.

4. The software problem is that Cisco's stuff will have "the latest features," but they don't necessarily work. The alarms aren't compatible with the existing OSS, so faults can't be documented and reproduced. And when they do occur, Cisco's responsiveness is lacking in urgency, possibly because they've been used to selling equipment to enterprise customers that can shut down the network for a few hours at a time.

5. We can all swap anecdotes about the reliability of dial tone, or lack thereof. I'm a Verixon customer, and have been without dialtone (to my knowledge) once in the past 12 years. In any case, I think you'd have to agree that the ILECs have a much more rigorous need for uptime than most enterprise customers.

If you doubt this, I suggest that you go look at the state regulatory proceedings against Ameritech in the Midwest and against U.S. Worst in the Midwest. Regulators really, really hate it when lifeline services aren't being provided.

6. See point #4 above. As for "endless handholding," this is a facet of arrogance. The ILECs are defined in the eyes of regulators and the public by their performance of their voice networks. If Cisco doesn't think this is important, then Cisco should forget about trying to be a vendor in that market.

Would you buy a car from a company that said, oh by the way, we don't really care about cars and you shouldn't either?

7. Your response is a pristine example of Cisco arrogance at its very, very worst. Remember, the subject here is how Cisco will penetrate the voice market. The voice market serves people who pick up a handset, punch in numbers and talk. The reliability and quality standards for this service are high as can be, and until Cisco can meet them AND show the customers that they care and understand how important it is to meet them, I don't think Cisco will penetrate the market.
fanfare 12/4/2012 | 9:15:04 PM
re: Cisco Shouts Out for Voice ha! ... I love it.

Local carriers = milk maids ... pardon my loathing

I'm a former VZ employee. Unfortunately for me, my background with the company has enlightened my sensabilities regarding their business policies/practices. Did you know that high school graduate associates (customer service) make up to 60k at the top level? Top level = 4 yrs. I knew a few of them. One girl was 6 months pregnant yet stood outside smoking during breaks.. I remember another ... dating some guy in prison ... quite a few who flunked out of college (of those that attempted a 4 yr degree).. One guy told me he just wasn't able to pass enough classes to get a BS in CIS. I think he said he made it to his sophmore yr. Lots of elementary ed majors too.

The point here is not to malign individuals .. but to call into question the business structure that is currently in place. In other words .. no wonder they can't stay competitive (i.e. cutting edge). The whole system is out of balance. I won't even get into the degree of nepotism and glad-handing on the top levels.

These carriers will either get on board with the concept of technical progress and start integrating the philosophies from companies like CSCO or they will eventually be replaced.

"Bellheads" laugh when presented with the idea that they can be threatened by entities like cable companies (who are spending .. right now). Then again .. history is full of scoffers who have been ultimately trampeled by 'insignificant' competition.
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