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Smart Grid Authors: Pat Romanski, Scott Allen, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Cloud Computing

Article

Cisco Returns to Plumbing with Cloud Computing

I Never Understood Why It Branded Itself Like Coca-Cola

Cisco Systems has been the world's largest Internet plumber for many years. Somewhere along the way, global branding took over from plumbing as the company's core value.

So in the late 90s, the world saw endless Cisco ads touting the fact that we all lived in one world and had dreams. The ads didn't mention plumbing. The company's market cap sprinted upward, soaring past $350 billion and putting it in the top rank of all public companies. Not bad for a place that shipped network switches and routers.

Today, Cisco is worth something in the more modest $100 billion neighborhood. Not bad, but not eye-popping anymore. Yet the company may still seem to be more focused on branding rather than plumbing.

Some soul-searching by company CEO John Chambers earlier this week should inevitably lead to many top executives "exploring new career opportunities." And it may lead to the company getting back to the plumbing.

Recent criticism by a Wall St. analysis describes Cisco's attempts to sell consumer-oriented Flip cameras, Linksys wireless routers, and other gear as "crappy businesses."

More critically, it is losing mindshare and marketshare in the heavy-duty corporate datacenter (and Cloud Computing) markets to companies such as Riverbed, F5, and Force10. None of these companies has the high-profile branding of Cisco, and that seems to be the point.

Cisco is marching along in good time with the Cloud Computing parade, offering heavy-duty enterprise services such as firewall services, IP trunking services, MPLS VPN, and other geekery.

I read this as a good thing. I never understood the idea of trying to brand Cisco as if it were Coca-Cola. Plumbing may seem unexciting, but the money it can generate is exciting as hell.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.