Cisco's Chambers: We Don't Focus On Other Companies


Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers said Thursday that Cisco has ascended to the No. 1 spot in every market it has entered, and that he's never been focused on competing with HP.

"We don't focus on other companies. We focus on market transitions," Chambers told a room full of U.S. and international reporters at the Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco.

It was a marked contrast in messaging from last year's Partner Summit, in which multiple Cisco senior executives, including Chambers, addressed competition with HP directly.

Instead, Chambers focused on market adjacencies and driving partner opportunities. Tandberg, Starent Networks and other Cisco acquisitions are important to helping Cisco advance its vision, Chambers said Thursday, adding that 70 percent of Cisco acquisitions meet or exceed the company's initial expectations.

"Every time we've entered a market," Chambers said, "we become the No. 1 player."

He referenced HP and other competitors indirectly by saying that Cisco is "not about delivering commodity products" and favors offerings that "offer transformational change."

According to Cisco VARs, they've seen a noticeable effort from Cisco to downplay the HP rivalry at this year's Summit. Solution providers like Pete Belyea, vice president of Teracai, East Syracuse, N.Y., told Channelweb.com that maybe it was a response by Cisco to "backlash" following last year's anti-HP chest beating.

Wendy Bahr, Cisco senior vice president of U.S. and Canada channels, acknowledged to Channelweb.com that Cisco executives were on-point about HP-flavored rhetoric last year but that their priorities are simply elsewhere this year.

"It's about new markets, new market transitions, new business models and new buyers," Bahr said. "The new buyer opportunity is beyond IT and is across the entire spectrum. We're so busy with our partners, and that's what it's all about. It's about market transitions."

One solution provider who had arrived at the Cisco Partner Summit late Wednesday from the HP Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas said the shift in tones was dramatic. Whereas HP executives had partners fired up to compete with Cisco in networking, Cisco's tone has been one of focusing on vision and partner problems, specifically the ongoing supply chain issues.

"I heard that before I arrived, that the anti-HP vibe was muted," said the solution provider, who sells both HP and Cisco and asked not to be identified. "It's not surprising, I guess -- they took a lot of [flak] for being so explicit about it last year. But at the same time, pretending it doesn't exist is insulting partners' intelligence, too."