Chambers Talks of Changing Cisco’s Software Model

Enterprise network professionals can expect changes in how Cisco sells the software that runs its routers and switches over the next few years, the company’s CEO told reporters at Cisco’s Networkers customer conference this week.

In a broad roundtable discussion, John Chambers said Cisco will reexamine how it sells IOS and other software images that run the company’s routers and switches, as Cisco looks to offer more flexibility to customers and possibly boost its own bottom line by how it sells software.

“We have to evolve our software strategy,” Chambers said. “We tend to lump software into maintenance. So often people get the difference between maintenance and software upgrades [confused] when in fact they are in the same category.”

Chambers referred to Cisco’s policy of bundling software with its hardware. Currently, software such as IOS images that run routers and switches are included as part of the maintenance and support contracts customers buy for the gear. Breaking out software as a separately charged item could give customers a clearer idea of what software they’re buying and what features are available to them.

“Show customers what they’re paying for and let them make a decision that makes the most sense,” is the idea behind the potential shift, Chambers said. “There will be some elements of our software strategy that will be bundled forever. There will be others that will evolve out and will allow customers to chose what they want or don’t want in it.”