Cisco vs. the World: Rough Seas Ahead?

Cisco Systems, the Wall Street darling, might soon find itself in a street brawl with not only former enemies but also allies who are turning on it. The company, which once made its living selling core infrastructure products such as routers and switches, has more recently been chasing new markets such as video conferencing and data center-focused technologies including servers. Sure, over the long term, the upside of these markets is huge, but in the near term these moves could prove to be painful. Why? Because these moves into new markets are pitting the company against one-time supporters.

It has already been skirmishing with Microsoft (in collaboration and unified communications) and Google, and soon it’s going to find itself locked in mortal combat with behemoths that are going to be merciless in protecting their turf. On GigaOM Pro (subscription required), Derrick Harris points out that almost everyone has a vested interest in keeping Cisco down.

This includes Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Last week, Cisco announced a partnership with storage giant EMC and virtualization leader VMware to set up a joint venture called Acadia based on the concept that the data center is the computer. I wonder how service providers feel about using Cisco’s unified computing products now that it has made known its intentions to compete with them. (Related post: “What the Cisco/EMC/VMWare Trinity Means for Cloud Computing“)

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More importantly, because these new efforts cut into the storage sales of HP, Dell and IBM, it is more than likely they are going to respond aggressively with scorched-earth strategies. Cisco’s opponents are already aligning with each other, trying to figure out ways to pulverize the company and its partners.

What do you guys think? Do you agree that Cisco is in for a rough ride? Or do you think the company’s rivals should be quaking in their boots?

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