Realigning the Sales
At the same time, Cisco is realigning its sales force and professional services arm to focus more directly on the applications that drive those vertical businesses, rather than on individual networking categories. "It is nice when you have one point of contact," Hargrave said.Both efforts are intended to allow Cisco to pitch more system-oriented solutions that address what IT executives care about most. "Weve been advocating [for Cisco] to build that core competency of the [vertical] domains for enterprise customers," Gonick said. "Typically with Cisco its highly variable based on the local talent. Weve been working very seriously with the business solutions group and advanced research and technology group and pushing them to declare a commitment across all vertical solutionsnot just boxes and blinking lights." The aim is to integrate advanced services into the network fabric. "Services isnt something we throw on after the fact anymore," said Gary Moore, senior vice president of advanced services at Cisco. "Its something we build in and design in." For example, new compression capabilities from the new Application Networking Services unit are on tap "fairly shortly," and Cisco this year will deliver new adaptive intelligence functions for its application acceleration offerings that allows network operators to implement and automatically execute traffic shaping policies that adapt to changing traffic flows, according to George Kurian, ANS vice president and general manager. On the security front, Cisco and Microsoft plan to demonstrate interoperability between Ciscos Network Access Control technology and Microsofts Network Access Protection capabilities in late spring. Although such efforts were launched well over a year ago, Jeff Platon, vice president of security marketing at Cisco said that Microsofts Vista delays have pushed out the integration efforts. Cisco in the next two months also intends to roll out additional application services delivery capabilities in the popular Catalyst 6500 switch, according to Marie Hattar, director of switching at Cisco. The company will continue to fold wireless networking capabilities into its switching architecture, according to Hattar, who said that most of the wireless LAN management appliances that come out of Ciscos wireless networking business unit also will be available as blades for the Cat 6500 and, eventually, other switches in Ciscos portfolio. "When we bring something to market, chances are itll turn up on the 6500 first, but you can expect us to bring wireless to the edge," Hattar said. "The head of our wireless unit [Kathy Hill] is also the head of our switching unit, so obviously there are synergies." The company has been working to clarify its wireless LAN strategy since its acquisition of wireless LAN switching startup Airespace Inc. a year ago. For months the company was pushing two wireless LAN modelsthe Distributed WLAN Solution, which comprised its incumbent, feature-rich Aironet access points, and its Centralized WLAN Solution, based on Airespaces technology, which involves provisioning and managing thin access points from a central controller. It was confusing for some Cisco customers, many of whom are used to being told what to do. "The clients will do what Cisco wants them to do, but given two options, the clients will choose the controller option, and have," said Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing at Gartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif. Indeed, Cisco officials now say the push is clearly toward central control of a wireless LAN, be it from an appliance or from a blade in the Cat 6500 switch. "In the United States, most of the forward pipeline is using the controller technology," said Brett Galloway, senior vice president and general manager of the wireless unit, and the former CEO of Airespace. "The first element was unifying Airespace into the wireless networking business unit. The second element is unifying the wireless portfolio with the Cisco portfolioto position the network as a service platform." To read more about Ciscos efforts with application security, click here. In Ciscos Application Oriented Networking initiative, designed to read the content of application to application messages and apply security or performance policies based on that content, Cisco will launch a new release of a financial services-specific implementation that will improve performance. AON, to date implemented in modules for Ciscos Integrated Services Routers and Catalyst 6500 switch as well as in a newer appliance, will also see a next generation module for the Catalyst 6500 late this year or early next year, according to Stephen Cho, senior director of product management for AON. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
"I had two with Cisco; I had my enterprise guy and then I had the wireless guy. Now the enterprise guy could sell wireless, but not the other way around. So I needed to keep my loyalties straight. Having them combined would allow my sales contact to know where I was heading with infrastructure and could possibly help in making wise choices."