It was fun to watch Cisco Systems executives squirm a bit Tuesday, when the potential customers for their shiny new router rained a bit on Cisco's parade. Nothing like a little bit of humility to temper an overwhelming display of marketing might. But don't bet on it slowing Cisco down in its pursuit of world domination.
To their credit, Cisco execs like vice president Mike Volpi didn't act dismayed when carrier representatives at the CRS-1 introduction event started talking about Juniper Networks, or hedged their bets when asked if they would buy a CRS-1 anytime soon. Maybe that's the confidence bred of knowing you have the resources to stay in the game as long as it takes -- a fact that may be Cisco's ultimate trump card in any networking market battle.
Or in every battle, since CEO John Chambers basically threw down the gauntlet at the entire networking industry Tuesday, by saying Cisco wants to be the market leader in as many as 20 different markets. A large chunk of hubris, to be sure. But anyone want to bet against them?
"It's a good goal," said Volpi of Chambers' desire to lead all markets. Claiming Cisco is a "decentralized" company, Volpi said it's possible for different divisions to move quickly and focus on their segment of the market. The CRS-1, he said, was proof that his division -- the routing group -- could still innovate and challenge smaller, nimbler competitors.
Mario Mazzola, Cisco's senior vice president and chief development officer, said while it's sometimes a challenge to keep an entrepreneurial spirit alive in a company as big as Cisco, Cisco's deep pockets also allow for innovation -- like the CRS-1, which cost hundreds of millions to develop -- that's simply not possible at smaller firms.