Cisco Winning Market Perception War

The service provider community around the world has spoken, and one thing is clear: Some of the stalwart incumbent equipment manufacturers of decades past are stalling out, while Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) reputation has soared.

The $146 billion networking powerhouse has successfully transformed itself from an enterprise-focused vendor to the leading telecom supplier in the world, service providers believe.

That’s one of the main conclusions drawn in a new report, published today by Heavy Reading, Light Reading Inc.'s market research division.

The 150-page report -- the Heavy Reading 2003 Telecom Equipment Market Perception Study -- analyzes the results of the largest market perception study of telecommunications equipment and its manufacturers ever undertaken. Cisco "routs" most of its competitors in the survey, while the reputations of incumbents like Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Marconi Corp. plc (OTC: MONIY) appear to have passed a tipping point from which it may be impossible to recover.

Here are some details about the survey that spawned these controversial findings.

Heavy Reading’s study is the culmination of a three-month project that began on Light Reading with the publication of an article -- Who Makes What: Equipment 2003 -- inviting readers to help define the telecom equipment taxonomy that is published for the first time in the Heavy Reading 2003 Telecom Equipment Market Perception Study, and which identifies and defines 22 product categories and suppliers.

The taxonomy formed the basis of the largest market perception survey ever conducted in the telecom industry; 770 service provider employees representing more than 300 carriers worldwide responded. What came from those participants was a stunning amount of critical market perception data for 85 publicly held and 219 privately held telecom equipment vendors -- 304 companies in all. A full 40.8 percent of the respondents were from incumbent carriers -- the ones most equipment vendors target for having the largest and most stable capital spending budgets.

Overall, the Heavy Reading survey showed that, across all product categories, 19.4 percent of service providers consider Cisco to be the leader in price. 29.7 percent say its the No. 1 player in terms of product performance. Even more remarkable was that -- again, across all product categories -- 35 percent of respondents perceived that Cisco was the leader in quality, while a whopping 40.2 percent picked it as the leader in service and support.

The report slices and dices the results into various buckets, including overall rankings based on criteria such as company size and the number of product categories in which vendors play.

Table 1: Overall Perception Leaders
RANK Vendor Total Number of Categories Recognition Price Performance
1 Cisco Systems Inc. 20 81.5% 19.4% 29.7%
2 Nortel Networks Corp. 14 75.2% 10.7% 13.9%
3 Alcatel SA 18 64.5% 11.5% 12.1%
4 Lucent Technologies Inc. 15 68.0% 6.3% 9.5%
5 Fujitsu Ltd. 12 50.1% 6.6% 5.5%
Average Ratings Across All Products for Vendors Appearing in 10 or More Product Categories

Source: Heavy Reading

Table 2: Overall Perception Leaders, Part II
RANK Vendor Total Number of Categories Recognition Price Performance
1 Juniper Networks Inc. 5 63.8% 15.7% 22.9%
2 Ciena Corp. 6 59.7% 8.1% 11.0%
3 Extreme Networks Inc. 5 47.5% 12.1% 10.3%
4 Motorola Inc. 5 44.8% 7.7% 6.9%
5 Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC) 5 29.6% 9.9% 5.9%
Average Ratings Across All Products for Vendors Appearing in 5 to 9 Product Categories

Source: Heavy Reading

Cisco did not beat all in this ground-breaking survey. Its ratings in Europe were weaker than those in North America or Asia. But even there, it only did poorly in a couple of categories.

Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) beat Cisco in the Sonet MSPP (multiservice provisioning platform) category -- an area that began as the lynchpin of Cisco's service provider strategy. And service provider respondents felt that Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) was superior to Cisco in two out of five core router performance metrics: price and performance.

The Heavy Reading survey will have implications for the marketing plans of telecom equipment vendors the world over. In addition to black-and-white answers and a wealth of quantitative statistical data, the survey also features areas where service provider participants candidly comment on the vendors they use and evaluate.

For instance, in the core router category, Cisco and Juniper received flattering comments. "Only Cisco and Juniper have really proven that they can cut it at this stage in terms of feature set and stability," writes one respondent. Another, however, writes that he was not impressed with Cisco's follow-through after completing an equipment sale: "Cisco will discount to whatever extent to get the business but everything else sucks."

Cisco did not respond to requests for comment on selected survey results.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

To learn more about the report, including selected excerpts, please go here. The Heavy Reading 2003 Telecom Equipment Market Perception Study is priced at $4,950, and includes access to an online database allowing further analysis of all survey results according to search criteria such as geography, customer type, and respondent job title.

The product categories covered in the survey are:
Sonet and SDH Multiservice Provisioning Platforms, Metro Ethernet Equipment (including a separate study of Packet Ring Technology), Ethernet Access Equipment, 10-Gbit/s Ethernet Switches, Core Routers, Multiservice Switches, Edge Routers, Broadband Remote Access Servers, DSL Access Multiplexers, Equipment for Cable/MSO Networks, Third-Generation Digital Loop Carriers, Access/Metro DWDM Systems, Long-Haul DWDM Systems (including separate studies for terrestrial and submarine systems), Optical Switches, Softswitching/VOIP Equipment, IP Service Controllers (including separate studies for content switches/load balancers, traffic management devices, session controllers, and route optimization devices), Test Equipment, Fiber Access Equipment, Free-Space Optics, Broadband Home Gateways, Integrated Access Devices, and Video-Over-IP Equipment.

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spirit_of_voltaire 12/4/2012 | 11:23:03 PM
re: Cisco Winning Market Perception War
Marconi is not on the list??? I thought the BXR-4800 switch-router was rocking the core?
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