Page 3 of 3
Cisco's acquisition machine, largely silent during its 2011 restructuring, has roared back to life this year. But despite persistent rumors that Cisco has kicked the tires on NetApp and other smaller storage players over the last few years, Cisco's Chambers said the company prefers to partner in storage.
"We see storage evolving very rapidly," Chambers told CRN. "If you gave the choice between partnering with a player like EMC, and a very good partnership we have with NetApp, or you take it out to related markets like what we have with Citrix, or Red Hat, or Microsoft, or an OpenStack capability, or IBM, I vastly prefer the bigger picture."
Storage is an area where Cisco can expand the "pie" by partnering, not building or buying, he said.
"We've always had a philosophy where we'd like to make the pie much bigger and have a smaller percentage of the pie, instead of having a much smaller pie on our proprietary advantages but a much smaller revenue stream," he added. "It's our culture. We have an open culture; we think that's what wins."
That said, Cisco will continue to be more explicitly aggressive about competition than ever before, Chambers said, whether it's VMware, or HP, or Avaya, or Cisco's most recent "bete noir," Huawei.
"You are seeing us [be] tougher on competition -- make no mistake. I love to compete," he said. "And it isn't just the big guys like HP from 18 months ago; or Juniper, who made fun of us in the Wall Street Journal and said how they're going to pull away from us with these new products that aren't even coming out and now they're laying off people; or an Avaya, who made all this noise about what they're going to do with collaboration versus Cisco; or Huawei that we're getting really good to compete against. They're relatively easy to beat now compared to what they were just 12 to 15 months ago. People realize the many flaws they have when they come to market."
With Cisco on an upswing and other tier-one companies from HP and Dell to Oracle and Microsoft all seeing declines in key areas, expect Chambers and his lieutenants to hammer home Cisco's message to the field.
"I think it's time," Chambers said. "We perhaps took a few more shots than we should have. We're going to err on transparency. But when you compete against us, you will lose. It is that confidence that goes across the board at Cisco, with all the caveats. We all know that we could falter, it's just that I wouldn't bet against us."