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Cisco plans to enter 50 new markets: acquisitions inevitable

BusinessWeek reported yesterday that  Cisco is poised to make several acquisitions as it continues to diversify. The magazine noted that Cisco now competes in 30 different markets, many of them courtesy of acquisitions, such as Pure Digital, which gave Cisco a new toehold in the “Flip” video camera market. In an interview with BusinessWeek, Chambers said Cisco will enter 50 new markets within a year.

One of those markets, of course, is blade servers. Cisco announced its new Unified Computing System this spring, putting it in direct competition with companies that it has historically partnered with: IBM, HP and Dell. BusinessWeek noted that IBM alone sells about $3 billion worth of Cisco’s network technology through its consulting services.  Since rumors of Cisco’s move into servers started spreading, IBM has since increased its ties to Cisco’s networking rivals. It has partnered with Juniper on its Stratus cloud computing project and it announced an OEM agreement to sell IBM-branded versions of Brocade’s Ethernet switching and routing gear.

One analyst, Sam Wilson of JMP Securities, told BusinessWeek that the souring relationships between Cisco and the consulting arms of HP and IBM could force Cisco to develop its own consulting services. He said: “If push comes to shove” Cisco could simply buy Accenture, one of the biggest consulting firms on the market.

Cisco doesn’t seem to be shy about making such a sizable acquisition, either. Cisco’s mergers an acquisitions chief Ned Hooper told BusinessWeek that Cisco could easily afford a $10 billion deal right now. It has $33 billion in cash. But Hooper went on to say that Cisco will focus on smaller deals for now.

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