Cisco's Chambers Ruminates on the FutureBy Paula Musich | Posted 2007-04-05 Print
Cisco CEO John Chambers admits to a battle with Microsoft in the United Communications space and touts Cisco's Telepresence power play.
LAS VEGAS—Cisco CEO John Chambers spent some time with reporters at Cisco's Partner Summit here to answer questions and learn from their questions. There were several interesting nuggets that came out of the sessions.
Among them was an acknowledgement that Cisco and Microsoft, despite their partner status on various technologies, are in a battle for supremacy in the nascent but promising Unified Communications space.
"Unified Communications is a battle we fully intend to win. We believe it will be a network-enabled architectural play. In other areas you will see us work and partner with Microsoft. That is what our channels want us to do," said Chambers.
One year after he first hinted at Cisco's work to develop its next-generation video conferencing offering, dubbed Telepresence, Chambers is bullish on the prospects for that new technology, which has only been available since late last year.
He said Cisco has never seen a new technology it brought to the market ramp up to $1 billion in sales in less than five years, but he believes the Telepresence technology gives Cisco a "good chance with it to be there in three years."
The demonstration was very impressive, but costs for the system will have to come down dramatically to reach that kind of penetration, said industry analyst Zeus Kerravala of the Yankee Group, who called the current version of the Telepresence a "boardroom toy."
Despite the fact that Cisco still derives some 70 percent of its revenues from switch and router boxes, Cisco is striving to bolster and differentiate the value of its software. The company recognizes the opportunities presented by Web 2.0 applications, and in fact reorganized to speed decision making and improve collaboration across different areas of the company.
"Web 2.0 came here a year or two earlier than I thought and we're changing our whole organization around it," he said. "Web 2.0 forced us to move faster. Now instead of being able to take on two major initiatives, I might be able to take on 10. I can set a pace that could be hugely competitive for us," Chambers said.
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