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11/25/2013
09:06 AM
Art Wittmann
Art Wittmann
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Cisco's Chambers Pivots, Avoids Reality

Customers in the Open Networking Foundation beg to differ with the Cisco CEO's assertion that advanced networking "can't be done in software."

Chambers: An exception among the mover-and-shaker IT vendor CEOs
Chambers: An exception among the mover-and-shaker IT vendor CEOs

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:50:32 AM
It's not the volume ...
"We have 25,000 software engineers. If this could be done in software we would have already done it."

Faulty logic - it's not the volume of people, it's the talent, and the strong leadership direction that make for a great product. Seems like that lack of a defined path is a big part of the problem here -- you can't have huge profits based on proprietary hooks AND embrace a scale-out, standards-compliant future.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 10:14:07 AM
Re: It's not the volume ...
The author boils down Cisco's challenge when he writes that Chambers must constantly speak to two audiences: customers who demand reliability, performance, affordability, and interoperability, and investors who demand fat profit margins. Other tech vendor CEOs must balance those two sets of constituents, of course, but it seems that Chambers has to do it more than most. Financial markets move based on what Chambers says. 
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 10:42:20 AM
Re: It's not the volume ...
Not only is Chambers trying to please customers and shareholders at the same time, he is leading a hardware company that is trying to own a market that is becoming "software-defined." I think that is the biggest challenge. No matter how you slice it, that equates to quite a bit of double-speak.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 12:24:19 PM
Re: It's not the volume ...
I agree with Lorna. When I first read that, I thought about the things that Apple did in its early years with limited resources. Can you imagine what you could do with 25,000 of those early engineers?

If thought about in this way, Cisco would have already reinvented networking with software. But instead they have capitulated. 
Mr. Gigabob
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Mr. Gigabob,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2013 | 12:27:43 PM
The "Other" CEO Salesman
You cite CEO's up from the technical, development or strategy ranks - but avoid the "other" CEO salesman - Steve Jobs.  Chambers may have trouble "squaring" reality.  Jobs instead deployed the first ever "Reality Distrotion Field".  I see a theme with Sales People / Pols turned Business Leaders.  For details see Netflix "House of Cards".  So many parallels - including the well used tactic of trying to deny innovative threats - then leaping on the bandwagon and trying to overwhelm them with alternatives when your position is compromised.
rjurado915
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rjurado915,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 2:11:12 PM
Commodity Hardware
Commodity hardware is the idea that the switch hardware you buy in the future won't really matter because it will all be OpenFlow enabled and work like a charm with your OpenFlow controller.  So you can buy up cheap hardware from whitebox vendors and save a ton of money.  And it might be the future if it wasn't for one fatal flaw.  The fact is that the vast majority of datacenter TCO is from OpEx.  So while you might save a good amount of on the initial purchase good luck trying to support it.  Do most enterprises buy white box servers or build their own servers?  No.  And the reason is that even though Windows and Linux can run on practically any hardware, people tend to choose one server manufacturer (HP/Dell/IBM/Cisco) and stick with it as much as possible.  Why?  Because different hardware means different support contracts, different model numbers, different chipsets and different management systems.  

Just because OpenFlow can interface with any OpenFlow switch doesn't mean we can drop years of good sense and buy a switch from a new manufacturer every day of the week.  Because in the end that hardware still needs support and still needs to work within a system that is years from being defined.  And the more variety in hardware you support the more complex the system becomes.  So maybe you upgrade your OpenFlow controller and it stops working with the switches from WhiteBoxCompany#1.  Or maybe you apply a switch firmware and then the switches from WhiteBoxCompany#2 suddenly aren't fowarding as expected.  Who do you call?  Is it a problem with your OpenFlow Controller or your commodity switch?  What if they start pointing fingers?  Good luck with that!
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 2:29:05 PM
Re: The "Other" CEO Salesman
I read a much better description of jobs' shield. The writer described it as a "reality creation field." And that is a much better description. He didn't distort reality, he created it.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 2:30:10 PM
Re: It's not the volume ...
Cisco has owned this market from the beginning. The problem for them is that they're beginning to lose it.
Mr. Gigabob
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Mr. Gigabob,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2013 | 2:42:37 PM
Re: The "Other" CEO Salesman
Bud Tribble coined "RDF" to describe Jobs charisma and effect on Macintosh developers.  Based on end results it is clear Jobs was in the reality creation business.  John Chambers is not.  He follows the Frank Underwood model from House of Cards, describing what is good for Cisco and seeking to manipulate via positioning instead of  visulizing a new reality and assembling the tools to create it.
ArtWittmann
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ArtWittmann,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 3:11:51 PM
Re: Commodity Hardware
I agree with you - that's the way it has been.  I'm just in the midst of writing a story based on our private cloud survey - the last of which was done 20 months ago.  We asked about key vendors then and asked the same question now.  All of the software vendors (VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, OpenStack, even Oracle) were cited more frequently as key vendors, and the hardware vendors were cited less frequently.


I think there's a sea change at hand, and it's becoming no longer the case that choice of hardware is critical. My guess is that viewing hardware as such a key choice is a vestige of scale up thinking in a scale out world.
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