Branding Brilliance Behind Cisco's Borderless Networks

Our Server Den columnist says that Cisco is smartly encapsulating the deep technology of next-gen networks supporting mobile workers and streaming video, but Juniper and HP ProCurve won't stand idly by.
More importantly, one has to separate out the different dynamics at play as regards the public-facing message (a company's hot new marketing angle) and how customers make their decisions. Because unless you're looking at the most thinly resourced "S" of the SMBs, most buyers continue to make their purchasing assessments using traditional metrics. Sure, shiny new campaigns do have an effect, especially insofar as greasing the skids for approval, if ones' bosses are all hot and bothered about the latest hot company. (Remember the old "no one ever got fired for buying IBM.)

But the game on the ground changes much more incrementally than a quick scan of technology news Web sites would lead one to believe.

Turning back to the networking sphere, Cisco would seem to have an advantage attendant to its big public footprint. However, here again competitors such as Juniper, HP ProCurve, Brocade, Force10, Extreme Networks, and other competitors are not going to take things lying down.

Already, the early sense is that Juniper will respond by emphasizing its deep technical capabilities, and the differentiation offered by its opened up Junos OS network operating system. Indeed, Juniper issued a statement the other day, which read in part: "In 2009, Juniper rolled out our vision for 'the New Network' along with truly revolutionary innovations in silicon, systems and software." (See Server Den: Juniper Fires Back At Cisco CRS-3.)

And HP ProCurve will likely amp up the messaging surrounding its value and reliability propositions, which I submit is no small things insofar as the ground game goes.

I was going to conclude by saying that one additional effect of Cisco's positioning should be the acceleration of the deployment (strictly speaking, I should say upgrading or retrofitting) of networks better suited to large numbers of occasionally connected mobile workers, and video.

However, it's also possible that there will be something of a repeat of the early-2000 telecom build-out frenzy, where the technologies capabilities available outstrip user demands. Because it is indeed feasible that, while corporations and enterprises everywhere do want to make better uses of their no-longer-chained-to-the-cubicle workers, the modalities for how to do this aren't completely obvious, and will take a good long while to work out.

(For a related take, see Bob Evans's Global CIO: Will Cisco's Revolutionary Router Torpedo Tinseltown?.)

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