Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

For years, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) generally avoided mentioning Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) by name.

That changed Monday when Cisco unveiled a special Juniper-ragging website at www.overpromisesunderdelivers.net.

Cisco's claim is that Juniper has yet to deliver on some of its most highly anticipated products, such as QFabric, and hasn't technically come through on certain promises, such as the claim of a single operating system for all products.

This being Cisco, they make their point using video.

Put another way: Are you ready for some football?!

This is new. For years, Cisco avoided discussing its competitors directly, at least in keynotes and media briefings, and in many cases wouldn't even mention Juniper by name.

Cisco executives haven't precisely spelled out why they're changing tactics, but it sounds like the company has been frustrated with -- even jealous of -- the market's love affair with Juniper during the past year or so.

"Some vendors have repeatedly over-promised and under delivered, and still somehow receive credit for their vision!" writes Rob Lloyd, Cisco's executive vice president of worldwide operations, in a blog entry published Monday.

Cisco's stagnant stock price has made it a Wall Street punching bag lately, forcing moves such as the closure of Flip camera unit. Some are questioning the company's entire future and wondering why CEO John Chambers hasn't been ousted.

Juniper, by contrast, went back to being a bright up-and-comer, thanks to products such as QFabric and MobileNext (Juniper's mobile packet core, previously named Falcon). Its stock price had been climbing, although the economy put a stop to that. (See Juniper Darkens 2011 Outlook.)

A major part of Cisco's needling centers on the amount of time it's taken to bring these products to market, but Juniper is refuting those points, according to a Monday Wall Street Journal story (registration required). Falcon, for instance, has been shipping for a while, Executive Vice President Stefan Dyckerhoff is quoted as saying.

Might Juniper retaliate? Actually, considering that Cisco competitors rarely have a problem calling out Cisco by name, that question feels a little obvious.

The more serious question might be whether the campaign could backfire. Cisco had some sound PR reasons for not acknowledging Juniper by name. Juniper executives could pretty easily claim that Cisco's new tactics are a reaction to Juniper's power in the market.

UPDATE: Juniper has issued this statement from David Shane, vice president of global corporate communications: "We're not going to comment on a competitor's publicity stunt. Customers tell us they want an alternative to the legacy approach, and we're focused on delivering innovation for them. It appears as if Cisco has once again lost focus."

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:54:15 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Watching Cisco's video is an entertaining way to start my week, and I have the same question Craig raised -- I wonder how/if this could backfire.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:54:14 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Wow, this definitely makes them look a little insecure. The site is pretty aggressive too -- I think just the white paper might have been more effective. It'll be interesting to see Juniper's response.

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:54:14 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

My initial reaction is -- why is Cisco suddenly kicking off? Is it seeing worried that Juniper is streets ahead in term of product capabilities? 

This looks at first glance like the action of a company worried about a rival and not so confident in its own abilities.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:54:13 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Is anything the ad alleges true?

Does Juniper announce products and hype them for an entire year before they show up in the market? Is using Juniper a perceived risk because they don't have products out on time?

It'd be interesting to hear from a Juniper customer on these issues.


photon2 12/5/2012 | 4:54:13 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Video is funny.  Analogy is not.  It's easy to get this reversed on Cisco, and ALU must just be laughing it's way to the next outstanding quarter.

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 4:54:13 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

This seems kinda bush league to me. How much time/effort is going into writing and producing a web site to trash a competitor? The video is funny for the first 15-20 seconds, but like a lot of SNL sketches, gets a bit tedious.

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:54:12 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Note: Years ago, I went to several Cisco sales training seminars.  One of them led by Chambers himself.  (I worked for a major Cisco rep at one time).  

In those trainings, Cisco consistently stated that the way to sell against competition was to NOT bash the competition but to win based on selling the strong features of the Cisco platforms and show that there was better value and better performance.  We were told to never attack the competition and never bash them in any way.

Given this, these moves by Cisco makes me wonder if things are more "rotten in Denmark" than we outsiders believe.

seems pretty desperate in many levels.

I wonder is Cisco now training the sales teams to take this "new" approach?  if so, it would be interesting to measure the results.


^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 4:54:12 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

I am sure that this approach by Cisco is working to inspire confidence in it's customers.  we all know how much we enjoy FUD.  Especially FUD warmed by scorched earth.

hmmm, let me see:

1) FUD and scorched earth advertising and blogs.... shows fear not confidence

2) insiders selling like crazy at Cisco..... hmmmmmm.

3) Cisco throwing obscene amounts of money to pirate sales staff from Juniper... to attempt to slow down Juniper's sales by taking talent via showering them with $$...   This sure shows confidence doesn't it? This strategy both causes Cisco to SPEND more money on sales and also at the same time insults customers.  Does Cisco really think that customers make the buying decisions for large network applications based on the personality and skill of executive level sales teams?  (I think for these kind of purchases, the decisions are mostly based on technology, performance of the platforms, support, and price... the sales teams are only facilitators).  I think customers are a bit more intelligent that that.

Really, absolutely, I am sure that these moves are helping Cisco.....  yes sirree!  more FUD please!


scottdTBR 12/5/2012 | 4:54:11 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

I don't like this move - there is way too much downside and not enough upside for Cisco. It also reminds me of the ill-fated "Cisco Sucks" marketing campaign that switching vendor Cabletron executed back in the mid-90's. Customers thought it was petty and all it did was make Cabletron look like a bunch of immature schmucks (not that they were perceived as incredibly mature to begin with).

yarn 12/5/2012 | 4:54:10 PM
re: Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

Wow, this is really a great example of gorilla marketing!

The video is a bit cheesy but that's how I like my pizza:-)

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