Cisco's WAN strategy is anyone's guess

Cisco's WAN strategy is anyone's guess

Now that Cisco Systems has killed off its ATM switch for the core of enterprise and service provider WANs, the company's plans for this segment of the market are unclear. Cisco is banking on increased sales of WAN switching gear to enterprises and service providers to drive the company's growth.

But recent news that Cisco discontinued development of its core WAN switch and delayed another enterprise switch for a year indicates that success for Cisco in this market may be more challenging than expected.

Analysts, competitors and other Cisco watchers say the company's long-term WAN switching strategy for enterprises and service providers is still unfocused three years after Cisco's $4 billion acquisition of StrataCom.

They say Cisco has shipped only one new WAN switching platform since it acquired StrataCom - the MGX 8850 IP/ATM edge switch, which is shipping in limited volume.

The death of the 20Gbps TGX 8750 seems to leave Cisco without a core IP/ATM WAN switch to challenge offerings from Ascend, Newbridge and Nortel and with a gaping hole in its "end-to-end" voice/data system story.

From a short-term revenue standpoint, that may not be disastrous because Cisco has said in the past that the revenue potential at the edge of the network is 15 times that of the core.

But longer term, a lack of presence in the core may mean a lack of customer lock-in and the additional hardware and software revenue that comes with it.

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