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Chambers and Cisco as a whole have taken a significantly more aggressive tone toward competitors than in the past -- even against vendors that also strategically partner with Cisco, such as VMware.
That tone was spurred on by the knocks Cisco's taken from other vendors in recent years and Cisco's comparative bounce-back, so expect that to continue, Chambers said.
"We told you we were going to beat Juniper. Now they're on the defensive. They're really being challenged now," he said. "Avaya, who was going to outexecute us in collaboration. Make no mistake: They are struggling. We're beating them very bad. And Hewlett-Packard, which saw we were going to exit the data center a year after we got into it. Well, there's 22.5 percent market share in North America in UCS for us, and it grew at 58 percent last quarter while our peers grew in single digits. Perceptionwise, we hit some rough sledding, we clearly did. We needed to change. But our competitors went through the same and did much worse. There's not a challenge I'm aware of that our peers didn't have to go through too."
Chambers said that partners should look back over the last 20 years and realize that Cisco's done that several times already.
"Over the years, after each challenge, we've emerged stronger," he said. "Our competitors from 15 to 20 years ago: Cabletron, Wellfleet, Synoptics, and probably 20 to 40 other companies. How many exist today? All gone except for Cisco. You could say the same about 10 to 15 years ago. All gone, except for Juniper, and right now, Juniper is questionable. And five to 10 years ago, remember it was Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Ericsson, Siemens, and they were going to eat our lunch. They said we couldn't spell telephony. Well, we might not have been able to spell it but we got 65 percent market share in business and IP telephony."
Continued Chambers: "More recently, all these competitors who said they were going to pull away from us? We're about 70 percent market share in switching again, and margins are back to where they were, plus or minus 1 or 2 percent."
"If a partner had bet his future on any of the peers I just mentioned, would they have a future today?" Chambers added.
Think of Cisco in terms of the Apple model, Chambers said, in that it is building whole-architecture solutions it can control every piece of, instead of the more fractious Android model, which relies on a number of different players.
"We're going to move from the No. 1 communications company to the No. 1 IT company," he said. "IBM had that opportunity with the mainframe and took it. Other companies had it with the mini-computer. Microsoft, Intel and Dell were a classic combination. But our model is now more the Apple than the Android. We provide the pieces -- the ASICs, the software and the hardware, not just the ASICs, or the software or the hardware. And if we do as well as we have in the past, we've shown the ability to take on the merchant silicon players and beat them."