Cisco’s Chambers targets ‘vulnerable’ Juniper, HP
Reinvigorated networking giant derides enterprise rivals, while cautious over Huawei
John Chambers, CEO of networking vendor Cisco, has gone on the offensive against smaller competitors Juniper Networks and Hewlett-Packard, deriding both as "vulnerable".
At the Silicon Valley giant's investor conference this week, Chambers inferred that Juniper, a rival in the enterprise networking segment, had consistently failed to deliver on promised innovation.
"You're going to see us go after Juniper. Juniper is the most vulnerable I've ever seen them. They've spread themselves too thin in terms of focus on service providers and their movement in the enterprise," Chambers reckoned. He added that Juniper's enterprise division "don't understand networking".
Cisco recently launched the online propaganda campaign overpromisesunderdelivers.net, which aims a shot across the bows of Juniper. The website features a counter measuring the time passed since Juniper announced its still incomplete QFabric data centre strategy in 2009. The site states: "There's a growing realisation that Juniper has regularly overpromised and under delivered in key product areas."
Chambers was similarly derisive of HP, claiming that the world's largest IT company was struggling to articulate its own strategy and was also "vulnerable". He refuted HP Network's long-standing discourse that its products are more cost-effective, arguing that Cisco's were cheaper in the long-run.
However, Chambers was considerably more cautious in regard to Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications specialist that recently entered the enterprise business. "Huawei is going to be a tough one. I think we've got a good chance of just completely distancing [Juniper and HP] and just leaving them behind," he claimed. Chambers added that Cisco was willing to take on Huawei in the Chinese market.
Cisco has implemented a stringent belt-tightening strategy of late. In July, the company announced that it was to slash 6,500 jobs, while a couple of months prior to that it shuttered its Flip video camera business. It has also seen market share declining in its core switch business, with the likes of HP and Juniper benefiting. At Tuesday's investor conference, Chambers slashed Cisco's long-term sales forecast from 12-17% to 5-7% growth annually.
He argues that these moves have made Cisco a more nimble organisation. "It was hard and painful and I wish we didn't have to do it," he said."[But] we were fat. We had an extra three to four inches around our waistline. That slowed our decision-making down. We got away from the basics."
Chambers said Cisco will re-focus around networks for delivering video content and mobility.
Reaction to Tuesday's developments from investor analysts was generally positive. "Cisco was very upbeat. It sounds like their efforts in terms of streamlining the company and simplifying the structure are paying off and allowing the company to execute better at least in the near term," Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, told Reuters news agency.