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Cisco conference comes after a year of upheaval

When the network and unified communications equipment maker officially opens its annual Cisco Live conference here Tuesday, it will try to show a year’s worth of job cuts, new products and a more focused strategy has revitalized the company, reassured clients and energized solution provider partners.

There have been some leaks about what’s coming. In a news release to reporters, the company said last week will make product and strategy announcements about its core networking and virtualization businesses.

Last month NetworkWorld U.S. reported that a Cisco executive told a U.S. investment firm that one announcement at the conference will deal with how it will embrace theyoung software-defined networking innovation.

External controller to oversee all routers

SDN allows an external controller to oversee all routers and switches on a network. Backed by a number of large networking companies and the Open Networking Foundation, the potential has mesmerized enterprises and service providers.

“Right now there’s a lot of hype,” agrees Laliberte, however there’s as well a lot of promise. Enough that companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Brocade Communications Systems and Juniper Networks have enabled support for an API called OpenFlow, which lets physical switches talk to an external controller on some of their switches to allow companies to leverage SDN.

So far, during supporting OpenFlow, Cisco has held its cards close to its chest on specifically how its clients can implement software-defined networking.

Since deciding for focus on five core areas and largely get out of consumer-related products, Cisco’s financial health has improved. In May it announced record third quarter revenue of US$11.6 billion, the second quarter in a row it hit a record.

“They’re more focused,” says Kerravala. “They’ve given up the sexy allure of the consumer market. While at times it may seem like there’s a big pot of gold there, there’s an awful lot of low-margin business and Cisco realized the price premium on the enterprise side simply wasn’t there on the consumer side.”

The same emphasis on core networking as they do today

“I as well think they had so many initiatives going on that they didn’t have the same emphasis on core networking as they do today. And they allowed companies like Juniper and HP to sneak up on them and take some [market] share.”

That in turn makes clients “take another look” at Cisco, which in part is all it needs to win business, or for the moment not lose it.

Good job of consolidating

“They’ve been doing a good job of consolidating and optimizing its groups,” agreed Andre Kindness, enterprise networking analyst at Forrester Innovation, “however they nevertheless have a long road ahead of them integrating elements to make networking solutions.” For instance, he said, the company nonetheless needs to integrate some data centre modules in its Cisco Prime network management platform so its an integrated system.

The conference unofficially started Sunday with two days of labs and technical sessions for the thousands of network engineers in attendence. Tuesday will start with a press conference on products and strategy, followed by the official conference opening and keynote speech from Chambers.

More information: Itworldcanada