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Cisco CEO John Chambers wants to make one thing clear: Competing against Cisco and its partners has been, and will always be, a losing battle.
"The message that we must give together to our competitors is, 'If you are going to compete against Cisco and its ecosystem, you are going to lose,'" Chambers told partners Tuesday at Cisco's 17th annual Partner Summit in Boston. "And history is littered with companies big and small that have learned this."
Admitting he would speak a lot less subtly about Cisco competitors at this year's Partner Summit than in years past, Chambers specifically called out rivals including Aruba Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, and their failed attempts at going toe-to-toe with Cisco.
"From five to 10 years ago, great companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel-Ericsson -- they are a shadow of what they used to be," Chambers said.
Chambers also dismissed competitors including HP and Huawei as potential threats.
"Two years ago at this conference, we were all a bit worried, and especially the press, about HP beating us, and Huawei beating us, and Avaya [beating us]," Chambers said. "We've left them behind in market share, as well."
Chambers attributed Cisco's success to its ability to navigate market transitions and stay ahead of industry trends. Looking ahead, Chambers said he sees a number of new transitions Cisco and its partners must traverse to stay on top.
One of these transitions is the Internet of Everything, or the ability for previously unconnected objects -- including everything from cars to produce to healthcare devices -- to communicate with one another and the Internet. Chambers urged solution providers to think about the Internet of Everything as the fourth evolution of the Internet, following its introduction, the emergence of e-commerce and the rise of social media. He also urged partners to start investing in the Internet of Everything and evaluating the impact it will have on their own business and their customers'.
Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN Corp., a national Cisco partner headquartered in Waltham, Mass., said he was glad to see Chambers and Cisco focusing this year's Partner Summit on new industry trends and their impact on partners and customers, rather than just new Cisco products.
"The focus is shifting from [Cisco's] own technology and architectures to what it does for the customer," Phelps said." It's not what it is, but what it does, that’s important."
Chambers also highlighted today's shift in IT consumption models as another transition Cisco and its channel partners need to navigate this year. Namely, Chambers said, as more and more organizations move to the cloud, Cisco and partners need to put a greater emphasis on providing hosted solutions and services. This transition, however, is an especially challenging one for solution providers, requiring them, in many cases, to transform their existing business models to accommodate a services-based sale.
"We are talking about a partner ecosystem that we have to navigate through very carefully, knowing that each move we make in services, or each move we make in Internet of Everything, we have to say, 'How do we do it together?' But trust that we are going to move through this transition," Chambers told the crowd.