Cisco Promises More Innovation, Soon

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Cisco Systems, already networking's 800-pound gorilla, wants to get bigger and better, according to chief executive John Chambers.

May 26, 2004

3 Min Read
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Cisco Systems, already networking's 800-pound gorilla, wants to get bigger and better, according to chief executive John Chambers.

Speaking at the introductory event for the company's new carrier-class router, Chambers said Tuesday that Cisco is readying new products across its entire spectrum of technologies, and aims to be the market leader in every segment it participates in.

"We want to be the product leader in not one or two areas, but 10, 15 or 20," Chambers said. Chambers also promised a slew of new products from Cisco over the next 12 months, though he did not provide any specifics.

"You will see more innovation from Cisco in the next 12 months than you have in the last few years," Chambers said. "We will have more product introductions by a factor of twofold."

Tuesday's event, which began with a nod toward the company's founding 20 years ago, was the live component to a wide marketing push for the new carrier-class router, called the Carrier Routing System, or CRS-1. According to Chambers, Cisco's new router represents "the biggest jump we've ever taken in innovation since the router was introduced 20 years ago."As part of an event held at the Computer History Museum here, Cisco showed a version of the CRS-1 on stage that used two line-card chassis and one fabric chassis. According to Cisco, up to eight fabric chassis and 72 line-card chassis can be connected to produce a single "virtual" router with a throughput of 92 Terabits per second.

However, only single-chassis systems will be available for the first customer shipments in July, according to Cisco, with multiple-chassis systems available three months later.

While the elaborate event -- complete with video linkups, a webcast, and a demonstration with service provider MCI that claimed to use the router to support a 40 Gbps Internet traffic link -- demonstrated the ability of Cisco's marketing power, even Chambers said that Cisco still must earn the respect of telecom service providers if it is to lead in the high-end router market.

Mike Volpi, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's routing technology group, said the CRS-1 was designed to meet the exacting needs of service providers, who are used to reliable equipment -- and who have shunned Cisco gear in the past because it wasn't designed with carrier-type availability in mind.

"Best effort doesn't work anymore," Volpi said. "We had to marry the heritage of the telephone network with the Internet [to produce the CRS-1]. Merging those two was very challenging."And while Cisco did persuade four service providers to participate in the event, the representatives from Sprint, NTT, Deutsche Telekom's T-Com fixed-network division and MCI were all noncommittal when it came to promising purchases of the CRS-1. Kathy Walker, Sprint's executive vice president for network services, offered the strongest commitment by confirming "an intent to purchase" at least one CRS-1.

To those who would say that the CRS-1 has a limited audience, Cisco's Volpi said similar predicitions were made for the company's last high-end router, the 12000 Series, which went on to be a billon-dollar-plus business success. But as noted several times throughout Tuesday's presentations, predictions of future bandwidth needs have almost always fallen well short of reality.

"There is some credibility gained with customers and employees just by building the CRS-1, to show our technical leadership," Volpi said. "But I remember when we came out with [the 12000 series], people said it was all about ego, and nobody would buy them. I firmly think this [the CRS-1] is going to sell. First to the top 30 carriers, and then to a broader market thereafter."

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