Things rosy for Cisco Canada, says division head

While Cisco Systems Inc. is having financial problems, the head of its Canadian division insists all is well here.

“We’ve had a tremendous year,” Cisco Canada president Nitin Kawale said Thursday in an interview during the division’s annual Toronto solutions forum for customers and partners.

 “Our growth rates have been exceptional – we compare them world wide — and Cisco Canada continues to be in the top performing countries for Cisco. Our collaboration business is doing extremely well, we’re gaining market share in our core markets in routing, switching, security and wireless, Our data centre and unified communications products are performing better than we expected …. So we’re absolutely delighted with what’s going on.”

While company figures and industry analysts say sales of switching gear have been hit by competition, Kawale (pictured) gave the impression that isn’t happening here.

“We are growing in the high double digits (in compound annual growth) in the last few years,” he said. In every sector the networking equipment manufacturer goes after here, — public, private, service provider, small business — “we’re gaining market share in all those areas.”

As for switches, “the next generation of products that are planned for Cisco are quite exciting and will allow us to regain some of the high ground.”

Some industry analysts maintain the company will have to yield somewhat on pricing to maintain market share, but Kawale demurred.

“We’re not losing market share in Canada, we’re gaining… Pricing pressure is something we live with every day. We expect that to continue.”

He did admit that generally Cisco “might have gotten a little bit too aggressive in the amount of markets we went after. And probably our speed of execution can be improved – close to remarks other Cisco executives have said previously.

But, he said, the company is going back to core areas such as networking so Cisco can “go back and dominate those markets as we have done in the past.”

Earlier this month company CEO John Chambers said Cisco has to restructure after the release of disappointing quarterly results. The changes include axing its consumer Flip video camera business.

The company has said there will be layoffs around the world, which will be announced before the end of Cisco’s fourth quarter this summer.

Kawale doubts the Canadian operation will be hit. In fact, he’s planning on adding staff in the next fiscal year.

During the interview Kawale also said he’s looking forward to the release at the end of the month of the Cius tablet, a 7-inch Android powered device aimed at enterprises, which Cisco says can be used for productivity and video conferencing.

While some organizations are shy about allowing Android-powered devices behind their firewalls, Kawale called Cius “a robust, enterprise-class, security-driven business solution.”

He had no pricing details, but did say it will initially be released in 3G and 4G wireless versions as well as WiFi. Most competitive tablets, including Research In Motion’s 7-in. Playbook, have so far only put out WiFi versions.

Most of the sessions at the conference dealt with ways of implementing Cisco solutions. But one of the keynotes was given by Dr. Guido Jouret, vice-president and chief technology officer of Cisco’s emerging technologies group, who suggested the next five years will see a number of transitional businesses transformed.

There will be “trillions of devices” in the future embedded in buildings, highways “and probably in our bodies as well.”

Video – which Cisco has been boosting for several years – will become so pervasive that in three years people will talk to doctors, bankers and real estate agents online rather than go to their offices, he said.

“The video revolution that’s coming will transform entertainment, but it will completely disrupt services – health care, education, anything that requires the projection of expertise or insight or empathy. You can’t project that through a Web browser, you have to see somebody in high definition video.”

By 2015, Jouret predicted, a person will be able to have their genetic code sequenced for $100. The 5 GB of data will be sent to doctors or hospitals, resulting in a huge amount of medical data. “This is a major transformation of health care,” he said, “going from an intuitive science, where doctors try to understand what might be ailing you by talking to you, to becoming an information science, where continuous monitoring, genomic sequencing are providing a rich amount of data so we can apply expert systems and automation to the business of providing diagnosis of health problems.”

And to delve into all this video and medical data, there will be a tremendous need for analytics, he added.

In an interview later, Jouret said a number of companies are emerging that specialize in analyzing non-structured data like video.

When a reporter reminded him that Cisco was known for acquiring emerging companies with new technology, he nodded.

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