Why Highly Profitable Cisco Systems Is Cutting 4,000 Jobs
NEWS ANALYSIS: The switch-and-router gold rush days are over, and Cisco knows it.How does a highly successful, global market-leading company such as Cisco Systems justify cutting 4,000 of its 66,000-plus employees--a rather large chunk of its workforce--when the company is doing just fine financially? While that personnel move looks preposterous, this is not a simple question to answer. While shareholders and analysts are looking at past and present performance, Cisco CEO John Chambers and his board of directors are living in the future. They're looking way ahead at what they perceive to be coming down the pike 12, 18, 24 months from now. What they see obviously worries them. It's true that the Internet's plumbing is pretty well built out after 20 years, and while there is still new construction going on, most of the future work will be in equipment maintenance and replacement. The switch-and-router gold rush days are over, and Cisco knows it.
Moving into new business sectors
There's no question that Cisco's key markets are leveling off, but its newer initiatives--cloud computing, data center equipment, mobility solutions--are gaining traction. The correct query is: How much, and how quickly? "The numbers are clearly showing that Cisco is growing in new markets, but it's important to peel the numbers back and look at the details," Moorhead said. "Let's take their data center numbers. Cisco is growing and doing well in blades, but their overall server market share is only 2 percent, extremely small when compared to HP's 24 percent and Dell's 22 percent share. HP and Dell are literally 10 times larger than Cisco in servers."
It is time to rethink strategies around deploying networking, Moorhead said. "The largest, scale-out data centers in the world are already moving off of expensive, proprietary networking and onto more open networking," Moorhead said. "History has shown that the scale-out trends can wind up in enterprise data centers in a few years as the open-source community ramps up." Two key approaches to data center business Enterprise data centers need to be considering two approaches, Moorhead said. "First is experimenting with, and the more aggressive shops rolling out, an open-standard SDN approach," he said. "The second is to consider an entire converged infrastructure approach, blending server, storage, networking and security. Full-service providers for converged approaches include HP Converged Infrastructure, Dell Active Infrastructure, Cisco UCS and IBM PureSystems." That's some pretty serious international competition. Cisco has to regroup to be competitive there. So that's where Cisco will soon be reallocating its resources as it lays off 5 percent of its workforce, moves some people into new jobs and then hires back others to fill gaps in other product areas. Of course, there is method to Cisco's actions; it didn't get to its current status by making major mistakes. Still, it's tough to explain that to any of the 4,000 folks who will lose their jobs at Cisco during the next year.