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Cisco, WAN Optim, and What People Are Saying

Brad Reese of Network World made a short and very clear posting today around Infonetics most recent market share report on WAN optimization. While I wouldn’t normally re-post or call out an industry observer covering Cisco (or whichever vendor’s) current market success, I think this posting is worth citing to set the record of the last 24+ months straight…

…Cisco IS COMMITTED to this market segment, and IS INVESTING to provide customers with a strong solution using this technology. After 20+ years leading marketing for networking equipment vendors, I have seen various levels of FUD and competitive selling/marketing for various market/technology cycles. The early LAN hub wars of Cabletron (remember them?), SynOptics and 3Com come to mind, as well as Cisco vs. Wellfleet. The Gigabit switching wars of Foundry, Extreme and Alteon were quite amusing as well (FUD was redefined in the late 90s). But the last couple years of FUD from the folks mentioned in Brad’s posting today are the heaviest (and most inaccurate) I’ve seen in a long time. Calling out highly questionable claims (in your earnings announcement and Wall St. Journal interviews, no less…) like “side by side against Cisco, Juniper and other rivals, Riverbed wins “nine times out of 10…” is just not beneficial for IT professionals trying to make an accurate and, given the economic environment, career-critical purchase. How can a vendor beat another vendor “9 out of 10 times” — in a market where almost all deals are multi-vendor competitive — and still be #3 market share to the losing vendor? Maybe several of us skipped to many of our accounting classes in college… That said, I invite Riverbed and other FUD-heavy vendors to change their approach in this increasingly tough economy. IT teams and buyers need honest, accurate information about vendors and their solutions, given their purchase decisions in times of minimized Capex and ever reducing Opex are critical for their companies, as well as their careers. Focus on key things like business models, return on investment, and productivity benefits to employees and IT staff. Not ridiculous numerical speculations on deals won/lost, or outdated claims on 18 month old product releases. WAN optimization, and general IT buyers, will appreciate that for the next few years. Readers: please comment and share your favorite stories or experiences on good and bad vendor sales or marketing tactics. We on the vendor side need to hear what information you most need in the times, and what to avoid saying as well…

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