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Cisco gets on the offense … but will it backfire?

Once upon a time, Cisco was above the fray; too good to respond to competitors that publicly attacked and beyond the need to defend its heavy weight champion status. But those days are over.

This week, Cisco made an attempt at kitschy social media marketing with the release of the Juniper Pizza video on YouTube in which a user orders a pizza from Juniper and then waits 18 months for delivery. The video is a jab at Juniper for heavily marketing its QFabric technology for nearly two years without a delivery date. It also cracks on the company for its lack of switching features.

The video is pretty funny (in the context of tech companies trying to be hip). But it also marks a change of behavior for Cisco, which has always responded with the blanket: “Cisco doesn’t comment on competitors’ campaigns” when asked to respond to jabs from competitors such as Nortel, Juniper and HP. Cisco has also made it policy to avoid commenting on competitive product – instead choosing to promote its own.

So why the change for Cisco? Things may be different now that Cisco has lost some of its hold on the Ethernet switching market and Cisco users have said they will consider competitors with lower prices. It has been said numerous times this year that Cisco is finally in a position where it faces real challenges now that HP, Juniper and even Avaya have data center networking stories.

So will getting scrappy help Cisco stay on top? It could. But it also signal that Cisco is desperately seeking a way to stay relevant and ahead of the competition. You be the judge.

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