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Is Cisco Tuning Into Video?

A handful of trademark applications is giving some legs to a popular rumor that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is in the process of taking a great leap forward in the video server and storage business.

Yes, Cisco already plays in several areas of the video delivery business (see Cisco Intros Digital Video Solution). It provides cable headends, servers that allow for IP video streaming for corporate applications, and all manner of optical transport and DWDM equipment as well as switching gear used to shuttle video data around networks.

But at least one Silicon Valley chatterbox close to Cisco has put forth this rumor, for which we haven't found independent confirmation: A group within Cisco has built an advanced video server that Cisco intends to sell to cable operators and other service providers to provide a high-powered video-on-demand system.

Using such servers would, theoretically, allow folks at home watching TV to buy and play hundreds of programs of all sorts across a digital cable network or an advanced DSL network. The data, when requested, would flow from a presumably Cisco-built media file server/storage server through the network to the client's set-top box.

But here's the kicker: our source says the man leading the video server push is none other than Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Bechtolsheim, who has been at Cisco since his startup, Granite Systems, was acquired in 1996, holds the title VP and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit Systems Business Unit.

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