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You mentioned earlier that you're seeing great appetite by customers for Cisco solutions and that they are getting the messaging around Cisco's architectures and how that's a business conversation. At the same time, Cisco is challenged in a number of ways that perhaps it wasn't previously, or perhaps wasn't as voraciously when you ran the U.S. and Canada partner organization. Is Cisco a harder sell for partners these days? You're faced with a stronger Juniper, HP, and a lot of other folks looking to challenge you a lot more aggressively. So is the selling climate for CIsco partners more difficult now than it was a few years ago?
I think it depends on how we are approaching our customers. We really have the ability with our collaboration portfolio and our data center solutions to work with [customers] more around business imperatives. When we begin our engagements with customers with a true understanding of what are their business priorities, what the challenging issues are and how to apply technology to solve those challenges, customers are less likely to shop for a solution on price.
That being said, we've clearly seen more competitive pressure in the last couple of years, and if you go back through the years, we've always had competitors, all the way back to 3Com, Wellfleet, Bay Networks, Cabletron. It's not new to us. HP in the last few years just happens to be a little bigger than some of those we've competed with in the past. But where we're selling with the business discussion we've been very successful.
Is HP all that different from previous large Cisco challengers? Certainly HP's size and breadth gives it an advantage in certain situations but it doesn't sound like the competitive climate is all that different from what Cisco has seen before.
Well, they've come at us in a very similar way, which is just price. So if we work to highlight and our customers understand the value of what we bring to them, then our partners understand and believe that we've been very consistent with them for many, many years. We haven't wavered in our go-to-market with the partner community. We haven't had years where we're in or we're out -- we've been very consistent with our partnering strategy for the last 10 years. We have a history of creating market opportunity and taking our partners and working to build out those opportunities whether in unified communications with VoIP and now the whole unified compute environment.
In order to create those markets we have to invest significantly in R&D. We want to invest in network innovation to create markets. My perception is that HP's ultimate objective is to drive commoditization because that plays to the only proposition they have for the customers, which is not good for our partners.
Are partners actively seeking your advice and Jim's on how best to engage in those competitive situations with HP and Juniper? Are you looking for them to be more aggressive?
I've been pushing our partners around an aggressive response to any of our competitors, and particularly HP, for the last few years. So I tell them the same thing I told you. When we're really focused on how our customers achieve their business objectives, we have less competitive pressure than we would otherwise.
As it relates to Juniper, I think Juniper has classically been more of a service provider infrastructure player, and while they've made attempts over the last probably 10 years to move into the enterprise, and had some success, they've not had great success in penetrating our enterprise customer base nor our partner community. We don't see them as a major channel competitor, to date.
How do you view Huawei? They're going live with a U.S. partner program, and they've had their reasons for not making gains here, but they're not a startup, they're a $28 billion networking vendor. John Chambers and others have called them out publicly as a major competitor [to Cisco].
Well, as a company we clearly see them as a long-term competitor as John has stated. Primarily we've seen them with strength in emerging markets and particularly in the service provider space. They have a limited presence in North America and we haven't seen them much to date. At this point they do not have a strong channel presence. So we'll see how it plays out, but obviously we're watching them closely.
Do you view them as competing on a price discussion, as you do HP?
I think Huawei comes at the market from different perspectives. I think in some cases they come at it from a price perspective, in some cases in differentiated business models and in some cases with an attempt at differentiated technology. But again, we haven't seen them that much so we'll see how they approach this market.
Next: A More Outwardly Aggressive Cisco