Cisco CEO Chambers Dismisses SDN Rivals, White-Box Makers

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-02-16 Print this article Print
Cisco CEO John Chambers

"We are converging networking, applications [and] security with scale for our ACI platform, and we are doing it with the speed and the scale that no one else is coming close to it," the CEO said. "Our acquisition strategy in our security business has been very successful as we integrate the various elements into our overall security architecture. We fight point players in some areas, but no other vendor can play at the level across the enterprise that our customers need.

"In this environment, customers are migrating to partners they can trust who will lead with innovation and who will be around tomorrow. This trusted partnership is core to our success and drives everything we do."

Chambers pushed back at the idea that white-box makers could offer the broad capabilities that organizations are looking for, and also said Cisco will beat back challenges by other rivals, pointing particularly at VMware and its NSX network virtualization platform.

"We are seeing no unusual competition in the market, no unusual competition with white-label or white-box [vendors], nor will we in the future," he said. "VMware is a competitor. We view them as a competitor. We are going to beat them as a competitor, and we will beat them and have fun doing it."

Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, said there are two markets developing in the networking space. Organizations like Facebook, Google and Amazon have the engineering and technical expertise and financial resources to develop and manage their own networking hardware. However, many companies are gravitating toward more tightly integrated solutions from established vendors, and Cisco with its ACI and UCS solutions is addressing the needs of such customers, Kerravala told eWEEK.

"While white boxes have gotten a lot of media hype, the level of sophistication that's needed to build a network with white boxes is pretty high," he said. "The [integrated] approach masks a lot of the complexity and makes management a lot simpler."

What will be important for Cisco going forward is pulling together use cases to show how customers can leverage ACI to improve the performance of their applications, and why ACI is a better option than other SDN offerings, Kerravala said.



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