As the networking behemoths battle over router speed claims, both are attempting to cement public personas, and clue in non-technical consumers on who they are.
Cisco's announcement of its high-speed router has prompted a networking vendor CAT fight. (That's a cabling joke). Competitor Juniper Networks has fired back, accusing Cisco's of "funny math" in its speed claims and basically saying "we were doing this first."
My take: the details at this snapshot in time -- remember, performance is a leapfrog game -- matter less than the fact that this indicates we're on the cusp of a big bandwidth capacity uptick, both in a macro sense and in terms of local 100Gb Ethernet upgrades. Perhaps more importantly, networking companies are attempting to cement their public personas. They want non-technical consumers to know who they are.
Here's my post from Tuesday: Cisco Boosts Bandwidth Play With CRS-3 Intro. It's off of the Webcast during which Cisco introduced the CRS-3, positioning it as the driver that's taking the Internet to the next level, because of its ability to handle 322 terabits/sec of traffic. (With that kind of capacity, you're talking video support, and cloud-hosted gaming, not Wikipedia views.)
During the Webcast, Cisco chairman John Chambers continually emphasized this "changing the nature of the Internet" meme. His money quote was: "Video is the killer app." (I wrote about Cisco's video thrust here.)
On the other side of the coin, you have folks who point out that all this chatter about video, and the market positioning about "we are the Internet," is great, but basically this is just a faster router, on the normal engineering continuum you get as you take product lines forward.
That, I think, is basically where Juniper is coming from in the e-mail they sent out to reporters Wednesday. Not that Cisco owes anyone any apologies for getting the maximum press mileage out of its announcement. That's what companies do.
Back in October, Juniper hosted an event at the New York Stock Exchange, to announce both their listing on the exchange and the launch of a bunch of Junos hardware, software, and partnering products and initiatives.
Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson took the stage and put up a PowerPoint deck showing the cover of Abbey Road. He said something to the effect that the announcements they were making were as revolutionary for networking as what The Beatles' final (recorded, not released) album was for music. Which was fine by me, because being a big Beatles fan, I'm always up for talking about the Fabs. It just didn't have much carry-forward as a networking-related marketing point.
I should preface the details of Juniper's e-mail, and also follow my previous observation, by pointing out that I have enormous respect for the technological prowess of both companies. I think what we're seeing lately on the marketing front has little to do with technology, but a lot to do with how a new category of vendor (i.e., networking companies) is groping toward the establishment of public, consumer personas and brands.
. We've got a management crisis right now, and we've also got an engagement crisis. Could the two be linked? Tune in for the next installment of IT Life Radio, Wednesday May 20th at 3PM ET to find out.