Cisco, Apparently, Is Learning Its Lesson

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During the past few years, Cisco has either - depending on your point of view - grown beyond or strayed from its core business of providing massive Internet plumbing infrastructure to carriers and enterprises.

Whatever the spin, it really hasn't worked out. Cisco seems to be recalibrating. This week, the company got back to its roots by upgrading its ASR 9000 family with the addition of the ASR 9922 edge router and the ASR 9000V, which sits in the network aggregation layer. The enhanced platform will enable network management from a single interface. The addition of Cisco nV (network virtualization) will boost network capacity to 96 terabits per second (Tbps). That huge amount of throughput seems somewhat diminished, however, when it is juxtaposed against the increase in traffic that Cisco tracks in its Visual Networking Index. The latest edition of the study was released on June 1.

Of course, the update to the ASR 9000 line isn't proof that the company is through dabbling in other areas. There are other signs, however. In April, the company shut down the Flip camcorder group and, according to Technologizer, moved the umi telepresence product from the consumer to business shelves, so to speak.

PCMag.com is among the sites reporting rumors that two high-profile Cisco acquisitions - WebEx and Linksys - are on the block. Though the point of the post is that Cisco should resist the urge to shed, the piece redoubles the idea that the networking giant is paying a price for swimming in unfamiliar waters.

This Reuters story, posted at Yahoo News on May 11, chronicles the ongoing tough times for the firm:

Shares of Cisco fell 3 percent after CEO John Chambers, who admitted last month that the Silicon Valley bellwether had lost its way, also cautioned that Cisco's fiscal year 2012 will not live up to the company's previous growth expectations.

MercuryNews.com covered Chambers' earlier admissions on the dire straits the company was in. Harry McCracken, writing at Technologizer about the end of the Flip and relocation of the umi, created some context that easily extends to what may happen to WebEx and/or Linksys. (WebEx technically is a business service, though it lives near the intersection of the consumer and business sectors.):

Lesson? You can be one of the most successful makers of enterprise technology products the world has ever known, but that doesn't mean your instincts will carry over to the consumer market. They're really different, and few companies have ever been successful in both.

The good news for Cisco is that the increase in network traffic is massive enough to compensate for any missteps, as long as the proper corrections are made quickly. And that, to Cisco's credit, appears to be happening.