Cisco Thursday wrapped up its 17th annual Global Partner Summit by pledging its "unwavering" commitment to partners. But, the networking titan also used its final moments on stage to reemphasize just how much Cisco competitors are struggling to keep up.
"There are a couple [competitors] I want to talk about for just a minute. The first is Microsoft," said Chuck Robbins, senior vice president, Worldwide Field Operations at Cisco. "I know many of you have Microsoft practices, so don't be offended by what I'm going to say."
Robbins, acknowledging first that Microsoft is actually a close partner of Cisco's in the data center, went on to question the software giant's future in collaboration. Robbins made the case that, because customers are demanding more and more collaboration solutions purpose-built for mobile devices, it's likely that Apple, with iOS, and Google, with Android, will play a role in the space.
For Microsoft, a competitor of Apple and Google in both the tablet and smartphone markets, that's bad news, Robbins said.
"I don't think, at some point in the future, you are going to want to bet your business, or our customers are going to want to bet their collaboration architectures, on the hope that Microsoft gets along well with Apple and Google," Robbins told the crowd.
Hewlett-Packard was next on the list.
"Let's talk about HP," Robbins said. "They're not even that much fun to talk about any more."
Robbins first mentioned HP's unrealized goal of displacing Cisco in the switching market. He then called out HP's bold -- and ultimately inaccurate -- declaration that Cisco's Unified Compute System (UCS) would only exist for a year following its 2009 launch.
"Let me give you the facts," Robbins said. "Last quarter we gained three points of share in LAN switching, and we just became, with you, the No. 2 worldwide market share leader in x86 blades, passing IBM. HP is next."
Echoing Cisco CEO John Chambers' message earlier this week, Robbins attributed Cisco's growth in the data center, and continued success in areas like collaboration, to partners. "I just want to take a moment to thank all of you because we grew our UCS business with you last quarter 77 percent," Robbins said.
Robbins closed out Partner Summit by announcing a new version of Cisco's Partner Workspace tool for partners that will be optimized for mobile devices, arm partners with on-demand access to training and demos, and help them identify the leads that are the most relevant to them. Robbins said the new tool should be rolled out in about a year.
Robbins, alongside other members of the Cisco executive team, also took time to recognize the tragic events that shook the city of Boston following its annually hosted Marathon in April.
"While this was a tragedy here in the United States, we also know that this was really a global tragedy," Robbins said.
Cisco announced donations to the Boston One Fund and the Boston Children's Chorus, which was then invited on stage to perform, to show its support for this year's Partner Summit host city.
Cisco's Partner Summit this year drew in more than 2,000 solution providers from around the globe. Next year's event, Cisco said, will be in Las Vegas.
PUBLISHED JUNE 6, 2013