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Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire Acano

We are at an inflection point in video adoption. In the enterprise alone, less than 10 percent of the conference rooms in the world are connected via video and only 1 percent of users have video systems on their desktop today. The market is poised for dramatic growth, with IP video expected to represent 80 percent of all global Internet traffic by 2019, up from 67 percent in 2014.

Cisco believes that we can capture this massive market opportunity by delivering the best collaboration experience across every endpoint, every screen, every workspace, and to every user. Our vision is to dramatically increase the number of video-enabled conference rooms – moving from every one in 10 conference rooms connected with video, to every one in four within the next ten years. And we want people to be able to connect to those rooms easily from any device or system they have today. That’s why today we are announcing Cisco’s intent to acquire privately-held Acano Limited, a leading provider of collaboration infrastructure and conferencing software.

Acano’s portfolio includes video and audio bridging technology and gateways to enable customers to connect different collaboration solutions from disparate vendors across cloud and hybrid environments. Together, Acano will help Cisco expand the interoperability and scalability of our collaboration portfolio – allowing customers to connect from anywhere, from a browser on a mobile device to the corporate boardroom, and now scaling to easily connect thousands of users across an organization.

Over the last two years, Cisco’s collaboration business has provided a standout example of the strength of our build, buy, partner, invest and co-develop approach to innovation. Internally, Cisco’s collaboration team has achieved several significant milestones, refreshing the entire endpoint portfolio in the past 12 months and simplifying our offerings from 65 endpoints down to 17, and driving double-digit endpoint growth each quarter for the past year. We’ve introduced a new cloud collaboration platform and Cisco Spark, a new team collaboration service. Acquisitions also played a key role; over the past two years we’ve acquired three companies to help accelerate our development in cloud, Collaborate, Assemblage and Tropo. And we’ve introduced key partnerships such as one with Apple earlier this fall to integrate iPhones with Cisco environments and provide unique collaboration capabilities on iPhones and iPads.

Today’s acquisition builds upon this strategy. By combining Acano’s expertise with a Cisco team that has driven incredible growth of our collaboration business, we believe we can accelerate our collaboration momentum and bring new capabilities to market faster. The Cisco and Acano teams together will help make video dramatically more pervasive to the desktop and to conference rooms of all sizes.

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Our Unique Focus on Making the World a Better Place

In a world of constant change, one thing that has remained consistent over my past 18 years at Cisco is that customers and government leaders truly believe in the transformative power of technology. As technology moves increasingly to the forefront of our daily lives, we know the power it has in driving economic progress, helping people thrive in the digital economy, and addressing critical issues facing our society such as climate change. What is good for the world and good for business are more closely connected than ever before.

I have always believed that Corporate Social Responsibility has to be woven into everything that a company does. At Cisco, our passion for making a difference around the world and improving lives is deeply engrained in our culture, our strategy, how we deliver value to our customers, and in how we attract top talent.

This is true now more than ever. With the recent events that have unfolded in Paris, Lebanon and Egypt, and in other parts of the world, Cisco is deeply committed to helping others and the communities we are a part of. It is simply who we are.

Our 11th Corporate Social Responsibility report highlights many ways that we’ve made an impact around the world. As an example, over the last 18 years, our Cisco Networking Academy program has helped more than 5.5 million students at 9500 learning institutions in 170 countries. With the skills they are developing, these students are helping to shape and build the digital economy.

Earlier this year, we announced Connected Caring, a unique partnership with singer-songwriter Keith Urban and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Children suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses who are being treated at St. Jude now have the opportunity to meet with Keith using Cisco’s video collaboration technologies. With this initiative, we’ve given children at St. Jude the opportunity to take their minds off their illness for just a little while as they share messages of hope while also having some fun.

Watch this video to learn more about the partnership.

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Protecting Innovation – Moving Forward

With the second International Trade Commission (ITC) trial regarding Arista’s use of Cisco’s proprietary networking technology patents almost complete, now is a good time to provide an update.

As you will recall, Cisco filed copyright and patent infringement cases against Arista last December in the District Court in Northern California. One case, focused on 12 technology patents, remains “stayed” while the ITC trials involving the same patents are ongoing. The other District Court case, regarding Arista’s literal copying of Cisco’s command line interface (CLI) and two related patents, is moving forward. None of the patents in these cases cover technology that has been adopted as a standard. And all the patents were invented by people who worked at Cisco and then went to Arista, or by Cisco employees whose managers went to Arista.

Arista makes no secret out of its willful, intentional and on going use of Cisco’s proprietary networking technology. That’s why this litigation is necessary. For instance, why does Arista use over 500+ of Cisco’s multi-word CLI commands, when competitors like Alcatel Lucent, Brocade, HP and Juniper have only a fraction of that overlap in their own products?

To appreciate the brazenness of Arista’s behavior in this regard, and why the litigation is necessary, let’s listen to Arista’s own words. Here’s Ken Duda, Arista’s Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, and a former senior engineer at Cisco, in a public domain interview talking about Arista “slavishly” copying Cisco’s CLI.

Here’s where each case stands:

District Court Case (CLI and related patents)

This case, before Judge Beth Labson Freeman, is slated for trial in August 2016. Recently Arista moved to delay the start of the trial to 2017. The Judge held a conference on that issue, and will rule after briefing the question.

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Insights to Interactions: Defining New Connected User Experiences

This summer’s announced development alliance between Apple and Cisco reminded me of a quote from Tim Cook, Apple CEO, that I once read, “Most business models have focused on self-interest instead of user experience.” Needless to say, Apple has built one of the most successful brands in history by focusing on consistently delivering an exceptional user experience, whether interacting with its product family or its various service offerings.  Apple has raised the bar for what both consumers and business professionals have come to expect from technology.

In earlier blogs, I discussed the importance of connected processes and connected analytics in the transition toward companies becoming digital businesses. The final piece in digital transformation is connected experiences.  Ultimately business outcomes from operational improvements are driven by new interactions and experiences. Both the process and analytics requirements need to be informed by the shoppers, service consumers, business professional,  citizens and so on – all participants among who and what  is being connected — and how they are connected.  User requirements define how people can transparently access hyper-distributed centers of data, whether via smartphones, tablets, laptops, or specialized devices. But it is not just about simply having access to the data. Most importantly, it is about delivering timely insights so that users can make informed decisions.  Put simply, it is about delivering personal and/or professionally relevant information that an individual needs, when and where they need it, and in the best way for them to understand or apply it.

Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice-President and Global Head of Research at Gartner, summed it up this way at the firm’s recent ITxPO event, “In five years, 1 million new devices will come online every hour. These interconnections are creating billions of new relationships. These relationships are not driven solely by data, but algorithms. Data is inherently dumb. It doesn’t actually do anything unless you know how to use it, how to act with it.” I believe it is incumbent upon us to guide customers to discern the value of collected data, extract meaningful information from it, and analyze and use the data to offer new capabilities, richer interactions, and unprecedented opportunities for businesses, individuals, municipalities and more.

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Partnering to Accelerate Innovation, Growth, and Customer Value

At Cisco, we have long believed in the power of relationships. Recently, I’ve laid out how we plan to be the most strategic technology partner to our customers, and while we are very focused on the opportunities ahead, it’s clear that no one company can deliver the full breadth of technology solutions that customers need at the pace the market requires. Building next-generation strategic partnerships will be as important in driving customer value and future growth as M&A has been over the last decade.

In the last few months, we’ve announced a series of strategic partnerships that unite Cisco’s portfolio, market leadership and scale with market leaders that bring complementary solutions. With Apple, we are delivering the future of mobile work, and with Inspur, we’re building the infrastructure and solutions to power cloud, data center, smart cities, and big data for one of the largest economies in the world.

Today we are announcing a new global, business and technology relationship with Ericsson. With this partnership, we’re bringing together two networking powerhouses, with a clear plan to leverage one another’s strengths and complementary portfolios to drive growth and innovation. As I look at Ericsson’s strong mobility portfolio, network management track record, and incredible global services scale and capability, I believe there is no question that we can add tremendous value to our customers together.

We’ve taken the past year to clearly solidify how we will bring together our companies and our portfolios, and we’re prepared to move with speed. In Ericsson, we’ve found a company that shares our vision for what will be possible in the digital world, and like us, they recognize the central role the network will play in meeting the goals of business and societies. We also share robust cultures of innovation, and a strong focus on the customer. It is these shared principles that will drive the success of our partnership.

I recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg, and I encourage you to listen in.

This partnership is yet another decisive move we are making to invest in Cisco’s market leadership for the next decade. Together, Cisco and Ericsson will create the networks of the future, and I couldn’t be more excited about collaborating to capture the opportunities ahead.

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