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Cisco Systems, Inc. ( , ) is a multinational corporation with more than 65,000 employees and annual revenue of US$36.10 billion as of 2009. Headquartered in San Jose, Californiamarker, it designs and sells networking and communications technology and services.

Cisco's stock was added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average on June 8, 2009. It replaced General Motors which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In fiscal year 2009, Cisco realized $13.50 billion in network services sales (mostly from “ SMARTnet”), of which $7 billion was revenue for 2009 and the remaining $6.50 billion is documented as deferred revenue for multi-year SMARTnet service contracts. Network maintenance services now accounts for 20% of Cisco's annual revenue—an all-time high.

Corporate history

One of the many buildings on the Cisco Systems campus in San Jose
Len Bosack and Sandy Lerner, a married couple who worked as computer operations staff at Stanford Universitymarker, later joined by Richard Troiano, founded Cisco Systems in 1984. Lerner moved on to direct computer services at Schlumberger, moving full time to Cisco in 1987. The name "Cisco" was derived from the city name, San Francisco, which is why the company's engineers insisted on using the lower case "cisco" in the early days. For Cisco's first product, Bosack adapted multiple-protocol router software originally written some years before by William Yeager, another Stanford employee who later joined Sun Microsystems.

While Cisco was not the first company to develop and sell a router, it was one of the first to sell commercially successful routers supporting multiple network protocols. As the Internet Protocol (IP) became widely adopted, the importance of multi-protocol routing declined. Today, Cisco's largest routers are primarily used to deliver IP packets and MPLS frames.

In 1990, the company was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Lerner was fired; as a result Bosack quit after receiving $200 million. Most of those profits were given to charities and the two later divorced.

Cisco acquired a variety of companies to bring in products and talent into the company. Several acquisitions, such as Stratacom, were the biggest deals in the industry when they occurred. During the Internet boom in 1999, the company acquired Cerent Corporation, a start-up company located in Petaluma, Californiamarker, for about US$7 billion. It was the most expensive acquisition made by Cisco to date, and only the acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta has been larger. Although not every acquisition is successful, Cisco has succeeded more frequently than its competitors in integrating and growing the revenue of its acquisitions. Several acquired companies have grown into $1Bn+ business units for Cisco, including LAN switching, Enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), and home networking.

In late March 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom, Cisco was the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of more than US$500 billion. In July 2009, with a market cap of about US$108.03 billion, it is still one of the most valuable companies. CSCO was voted stock of the decade on NASDAQ. The company's 7500 Series router was voted 3rd in the product of the decade 1990-2000 behind the Mosaic web browser and the Novell LAN manager.

Cisco has made inroads into many network equipment markets outside routing, including Ethernet switching, remote access, branch office routers, ATM networking, security, IP telephony, and others. In 2003, Cisco acquired Linksys, a popular manufacturer of computer networking hardware and positioned it as a leading brand for the home and end user networking market (SOHO).

The company's first CEO was John Morgridge and was succeeded by John Chambers. The Corporate Headquarters is on East Tasman Drive in San Jose, Californiamarker, between Zanker Road and Cisco Way.

The company was a 2002-03 recipient of the Ron Brown Award.

Cisco's vision is "Changing the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn."Cisco's current tagline is "Welcome to the human network."

Products and services

Partial list of hardware products

  • Application Network Services
  • Broadband Cable products: uBR7100 series, uBR7200 series, uBR10012 CMTSes. A line of Cable modems, the uBR900 series and CVA122 series, were also made in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but have since been discontinued.
    • Clean Access Server
  • Content Networking
  • DSL & Long Reach Ethernet
  • Interoperability Systems
  • Cisco LocalDirector load-balancing appliance
  • Optical Networking series: 15xxx Series: 15302, 15305, 15310, 15327, 15454, 15600, 1580x, 15900(wavelength router, but end for sale)
  • Cisco Network Analysis Module (NAM) Performance Management
  • Micro Webservers: 100, 200
  • Routers: AGS, AGS+, MGS, IGS, CGS, SB107, 700, 800, 837, ASR1000, 1000 Series, 1600 Series, 1700, 1800 Series, 2500 Series, 2600 Series, 2800, 3600, 3700, 3800, 4000 Series, 4500, 7000 Series, 7100/7200/7300/7400 Mid Range Customer Edge/Service Provider Edge family, 7500, 7600, ASR9000, 10000, 12000, and CRS-1
  • Cisco Security Manager
  • Security & VPN products: Anomaly Detection and Mitigation Appliances,Cisco AVS 3110 Application Velocity System, Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliances, Cisco PIX 500 Series Security Appliances, Cisco VPN 3000 Series Concentrators, Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series/7600 Series WebVPN Services Module, IPSec VPN Services Module (VPNSM) for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Switches and Cisco 7600 Series Routers
  • Server Networking & Virtualization
  • SPA Phone Adapters
  • Storage networking
  • Switches
    • Catalyst series: 500 and 520 Express, 1900 Series, 2900, 2950, 2960, 3560 and 3560E, 3750 and 3750E, 4500, 6500 Nexus 7000 switch and Nexus 5000/2000 switch (from the Nuova Systems Inc. acquisition] etc..
    • Metro Ethernet ME 3400 Series Access Switches
    • MGX 8800 Series Multiservice Switches: MGX 8830, MGX 8850
    • MDS 9000 Series Multilayer SAN Switches
    • Nexus 1000V distributed virtual software switch
  • Universal Gateways & Access Servers
  • Video
  • Cisco Telepresence
  • Voice & IP Communications: 7900 Series IP Phones: 7936, 7905, 7906G, 7912G, 7911G, 7920, 7921G, 7925G, 7911G, 7921G, 7931G, 7936G, 7937G 7940G, 7941G, 7941G-GE, 7942G, 7945G, 7960G, 7961G, 7961G-GE, 7962G, 7965G, 7970G, 7971G-GE, 7975G and 7985G
  • Wireless: Wireless Integrated Switches and Routers,Wireless IP Telephony, Wireless LAN Access, Aironet Wireless Bridges and Workgroup Bridges, Cisco Wireless LAN Client Adapters (PCI and PCMCIA), Wireless LAN Controllers, Wireless Network Management, Wireless LAN Management, Wireless Security Servers, Wireless IP Phone 7920
  • Cisco UCS

Partial list of software products

Cisco Systems VPN Client

The Cisco Systems VPN (Virtual Private Network) Client is an executable program that allows Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows based computers to connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The client makes remote resources of another network available in a secure way as if the user was connected directly to that "private" network. The software is not free but is often installed on university and business computers in accordance with a site-license.The Cisco client does not run on any Linux 64 bit dual core systems that have SMP turned on.

Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client

Cisco has recently released a new VPN client called Cisco AnyConnect VPN. The Cisco AnyConnect VPN uses TLS and a slightly non-standard version of DTLS as the tunneling protocol instead of the legacy IPSec mechanism. The AnyConnect client is supported on almost all 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows, including Windows 7; Linux (32-bit x86 only); Mac OS X Intel and PPC; and Windows Mobile Touch Screen Devices 5, 6, 6.1. Server OSes are not officially supported, but version 2.3.0254 has been tested on Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 Server. This new client is growing in popularity because it supports 64 bit Windows operating systems .

Although the official Linux client has limited architecture support and symlink races (fixed in 2.3 and later), there exists an open source client (not officially supported by Cisco) which runs on Linux, Solaris and various BSD-based systems including Mac OS X, with extra features such as the capability to use SSL certificates from a Trusted Platform Module for authentication, and full integration with the NetworkManager desktop network configuration under Linux, as well as the ability to run as an unprivileged user to improve security.

VoIP services

Cisco became a major provider of Voice over IP to enterprises, and is now moving into the home user market through its acquisitions of Scientific Atlanta and Linksys. Scientific Atlanta provides VoIP equipment to cable service providers such as Time Warner, Cablevision, Rogers Communications, UPC, and others; Linksys has partnered with companies such as Skype and Yahoo to integrate consumer VoIP services with wireless and cordless phones.

Cisco Career Certifications

Cisco Systems also sponsors a line of IT Professional certifications for Cisco products. There are five levels of certification: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, and Specialist, as well as seven different paths, Routing & Switching, Design, Network Security, Service Provider, Storage Networking, Voice, and Wireless.

Criticisms and controversy


Cisco has been criticized for its involvement in censorship in the People's Republic of China. According to author Ethan Gutmann, Cisco and other telecommunications equipment providers supplied the Chinese governmentmarker with surveillance and Internet infrastructure equipment that is used to block Internet websites and track Chinese on-line activities. Cisco says that it does not customize or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities to enable governments or regimes to block access to information and that it sells the same equipment in China as it sells worldwide.

Wired News had uncovered a leaked, confidential Cisco powerpoint presentation that details the commercial opportunities of the Golden Shield Project of Internet control. In her article, journalist Sarah Stirland accuses Cisco of marketing its technology "specifically as a tool of repression."

Shareholder class action lawsuit against Cisco

On August 18, 2006 Cisco reached a settlement in a long-standing class action lawsuit that originated in 2001. "The original suit, filed April 20, 2001, claimed that the company made misleading statements, or omitted statements of material fact, that were relied on by purchasers of Cisco stock. It also alleged that the individual defendants sold Cisco stock while in possession of material, non-public information. Cisco denied all allegations in the suit." While Cisco denies all wrongdoing in the suit, it agreed to settle with the plaintiffs. Cisco's liability insurers, its directors, and officers paid the plaintiffs US$91.75 million to settle the suit.

Cisco's Brazil Tax Fraud Investigation

On October 16, 2007, the Brazilian Federal Police and Brazilianmarker Receita Federal (equivalent to the American IRS) under the "Persona Operation" uncovered an alleged tax fraud scheme employed by Cisco Systems since 2002 that exempted the company from paying over R$1.5 billion (US$824 million) in taxes.

Multiven's Antitrust Lawsuit Against Cisco Systems, Inc.

On December 1, 2008, Multiven, Inc. filed an antitrust lawsuit against Cisco Systems, Inc. in an effort to open up the network maintenance services marketplace for Cisco equipment, promote competition and ensure consumer choice and value. Multiven’s complaint alleges that Cisco harmed Multiven and consumers by bundling and tying bug fixes/patches and updates for its operating system software to its maintenance services (“ SMARTnet”) and through a series of other illegal exclusionary and anticompetitive acts designed to maintain Cisco’s alleged monopoly in the network maintenance services market for Cisco networking equipment. The official Multiven complaint can be read here.

Free Software Foundation suit

On December 11, 2008, the Free Software Foundation filed suit against Cisco (see FSF vs. Cisco) regarding Cisco's failure to comply with the GPL and LGPL license models and make the applicable source code publicly available. On May 20, 2009, Cisco settled this lawsuit by complying with FSF licensing terms and making a monetary contribution to the FSF.

See also


Further reading

  • Bunnell, D. & Brate, A. (2001). Die Cisco Story (in German). Moderne Industrie. ISBN 3478359953.
  • Bunnell, D. (2000). Making the Cisco Connection: The Story Behind the Real Internet Superpower. Wiley. ISBN 0471357111.
  • Paulson, E. (2001). Inside Cisco: The Real Story of Sustained M&A Growth. Wiley. ISBN 0471414255.
  • Slater, R. (2003). The Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers Steered Cisco Through the Technology Collapse. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060188871.
  • Stauffer, D. (2001). Nothing but Net Business the Cisco Way. Wiley. ISBN 1841120871.
  • Waters, J. K. (2002). John Chambers and the Cisco Way: Navigating Through Volatility. Wiley. ISBN 0471008338.
  • Young, J. S. (2001). Cisco Unauthorized: Inside the High-Stakes Race to Own the Future. Prima Lifestyles. ISBN 0761527753.

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