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Cisco's top 10 rivals

Jim Duffy | Oct. 13, 2010
Cisco battling Juniper, IBM, HP and more across the enterprise network market

Cisco vs. Microsoft

Microsoft and Cisco are in that gray area referred to as "coopetition." They compete and collaborate on unified communications. After Microsoft entered into the Innovative Communications Alliance with Nortel in 2006, Microsoft and Cisco stated their intentions to continue working together as well as compete.

But after Nortel imploded and the ICA died, Microsoft took its UC partnership to Cisco's chief switching and data center rival HP. The companies pledged to fund the effort with $180 million and announced it to the world during an HP keynote at the Interop conference in the spring of 2009. As part of the partnership, the two will collaborate on product development around Microsoft's SharePoint, Exchange, OCS and HP's ProCurve networking hardware, as well as interoperability between OCS conferencing capabilities and HP's Halo Telepresence audio visual and conferencing technology.

Cisco vs. Check Point

Cisco is far and away the leading vendor in the $7 billion overall network security market – which includes firewall/VPN, unified threat management, intrusion detection and prevention, and standalone VPNs, according to IDC. The company leads in each market except for unified threat management. But in the largest sub-segment – the $2.6 billion firewall/VPN hardware and software market – CheckPoint is No.2.

CheckPoint is a pioneer in stateful inspection firewalls and, like Avaya and unified communications, is focused solely on the security business with products dedicated to firewalling, VPNs, unified threat management and intrusion prevention. Cisco also has standalone appliances dedicated for these tasks, but in addition integrates many of these capabilities into the operating system software of its routers and switches, which are ubiquitous through the Internet and enterprise networks.

Cisco vs. IBM

IBM has been getting tighter with Cisco rivals Juniper and Brocade ever since Cisco set its sights on data center servers and virtualization, an opportunity that Cisco says is $350 billion annually. IBM is OEMing switches and routers from both companies and, though much quieter than HP, distancing itself from Cisco at every opportunity.

IBM acquired blade switch specialist BLADE Network Technologies which competes with Cisco for data center switching mind- and market share; and next year will unveil the "Stratus" data center fabric architecture with Juniper to compete directly with Cisco's Unified Fabric for the data center.

Cisco rolled out the so-called Unified Computing System a year-and-a-half ago, which is intended to re-architect legacy data centers by consolidating servers, switching, virtualization and storage access. Cisco has sold UCS to 1,700 customers to date. Cisco also rolled out Ethernet switches dedicated to data center fabric switching two years ago with the Nexus line. Nexus is now on an annualized run rate of $2 billion. Over the past two years, Cisco has also enhanced existing Catalyst switches with 10G modules and virtualization support for data center applications, and has tightly aligned itself with storage titan EMC and virtualization software specialist VMware to accelerate the adoption of Cisco products into the data center.

 

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