Cisco is slowly becoming a software company. Why is that?
The network is changing; it is not a means of shipping data anymore. It is more like a central pool of shared services – in other words, a mainframe. People I’ve spoken to here at the event say that network software, rather than desktop software, is where things are headed.
Cisco has already sewn up the hardware end of network infrastructure, but it needs to get a foothold in network services like video conferencing – why else did it buy Webex?
Services like video conferencing, voice communications and collaboration are sexy, and most of all, visible to the people that matter. A router or a switch, not matter how well designed, is not visible to the boardroom. The contribution of hardware to a business’s bottom line can be marginalised and Cisco is looking to raise its profile through software.
But while Cisco has been the dominant player in network infrastructure, it is fairly new to software, unlike IBM and Microsoft.
The key question here is: will Cisco’s software be up to scratch for enterprise customers to take seriously and if it isn’t, how well will its hardware integrate with its competitor’s software?