A Logicalis executive has suggested Cisco is looking to impress Wall Street with its new marketing push on software, adding that even the fashion choices of the vendor's execs are part of its bid to appear more trendy.
Yesterday at the Cisco Partner Summit in Montreal, the vendor unveiled a new software partner programme for the channel and said it was keen to show off its skills in the area in the future.
Logicalis UK's chief technology officer Chris Gabriel told CRN he thought the vendor could be "overthinking" its new marketing strategy and said it has always been considered a strong software player.
"[Cisco] has always been a software company," he said. "The question is, can they become as 'software' as Salesforce.com, as 'software' as Oracle or as 'software' as Microsoft? I am actually not sure they have to be – I think they are overthinking it."
On the Partner Summit stage, many Cisco execs opted for smart-casual attire, which Gabriel suggested is part of a wider plan for Cisco to appear more "cool".
"You can tell they want to be a software company because they have all got jeans and jackets on on stage," he said. "They are trying to be a little bit 'software'. I heard from somewhere – a reasonable source – that that's why they're doing it; they are trying to look a bit more like Facebook.
"I think what they are saying [about software] is for Wall Street – being a software company is more profitable, so I think there is a little bit of playing to the market on that. The reason is – who are all the most valued companies in the world now? Software-based companies.
"But I don't think they need to do it. WebEx is already a software brand, not everyone knows it is Cisco – that's the thing – but should they care? I think they are overthinking it.
"They are a software business though. The challenge is they have lots of software brands in the business, they're quite a fragmented software business. It is a massively complex software business; can they keep all those plates spinning?"
Softcat's managing director Colin Brown agreed that financial analysts are keen for Cisco to pursue software and said he was pleased with the new direction.
"I think the messages are good and one thing that is particularly encouraging for Softcat is the ramp up in focus in Cisco being a software company," he told CRN.
"Software is embedded in a lot of what they do but you don't think of them as a software company. I think seeing Cisco doing that is interesting. I was at a Gold partner lunch and I happened to sit next to [Cisco's] VP for marketing and I chatted to her about it and she said it is really high up on their agenda and articulating that software story better and getting customers engaged with it [is important].
"I think [branding Cisco as a software company] will be a challenge but they want to do it and the analysts want to see them more as a software company because it is a lot more 'sticky' with customers. Selling tin is great and they are very good at that, but I think the [software] branding will be a bit of a challenge."
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