I grew up in North Carolina and with my last name the questions about “relation” came fast and furious. Any time I wrote a check or used a credit card the question would come, “any relation to Dale?”On February 18, 2001, Dale Earnhardt died in a crash at the Daytona 500 (by coincidence my dad’s birthday is February 18). Although we were only distantly related, it felt like a loss of a family member. After all, I had grown up with him in many ways…especially the questions. He became to be known in our family as “cousin Dale” because it was the answer that questioners wanted to hear.Today, we learn that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is leaving the racing team and company that his father started. It is too bad that the the two sides couldn’t work things out, but business is business I s’pose.Which leads me to the point of this blog: Cisco and Microsoft.Peter Burrows and Jay Greene of BusinessWeek report on Cisco and Microsoft’s relationship. We have long been a friend and partner to Microsoft and other companies following the keiretsu model…after all, generally a rising tide lifts all boats, right?(My son, Jack, in his “Not Dale” t-shirt custom made for him by a friend.)In the BusinessWeek article, our Chief Development Officer, Charlie Giancarlo, sums up the MSFT/CSCO relationship thusly, “”Ninety percent of our businesses are very synergistic. We’ve been very clear with them [about areas where they'll compete], and they’ve been very clear with us.” As long as our step-mothers aren’t involved (see, Earnhardt, Dale, Jr.), we should be just fine.