SAN DIEGO -- Just over a year ago, Cisco Systems Inc. began a major restructuring after several quarters of sluggish financial performance.
When the network and unified communications equipment maker officially opens its annual Cisco Live conference here Tuesday, it will try to show a year’s worth of job cuts, new products and a more focused strategy has revitalized the company, reassured customers and energized solution provider partners.
“They’re coming up on the end of their fiscal year,” observes Bob Laliberte
, senior networking analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. “This is going to set the tone for what their sales force will be doing for the next year.”
There have been some leaks about what’s coming. In a news release to reporters, the company said last week will make product and strategy announcements about its core networking and virtualization businesses.
Last month NetworkWorld U.S. reported that a Cisco executive told a U.S. investment firm that one announcement at the conference will deal with how it will embrace theyoung software-defined networking technology.
SDN allows an external controller to oversee all routers and switches on a network. Backed by a number of large networking companies and the Open Networking Foundation, the potential has mesmerized enterprises and service providers.
But, as Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research says, invoking a hockey analogy, “we’re still in the pre-game skate.”
“Right now there’s a lot of hype,” agrees Laliberte, but there’s also a lot of promise. Enough that companies like Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Brocade Communications Systems and Juniper Networks have enabled support for an API called OpenFlow, which lets physical switches talk to an external controller on some of their switches to allow companies to leverage SDN.
So far, while supporting OpenFlow, Cisco has held its cards close to its chest on exactly how its customers can implement software-defined networking.
This being 2012, Cisco will likely also talk about cloud computing.
Since deciding for focus on five core areas and largely get out of consumer-related products, Cisco’s financial health has improved. In May it announced record third quarter revenue of US$11.6 billion, the second quarter in a row it hit a record.