Cisco’s “Strand” Moment

After a couple of days leave I came back to find my inbox full of messages about a marketing campaign which Cisco Networks had put together specifically targeting Juniper by name, claiming they “over-promised, under-delivered” on their QFabric technology.


If you really want a laugh the link is: www(dot)overpromisesunderdelivers(dot)net .


This struck me (and many others) as an odd approach. Cisco has shone the light of publicity on a major competitor on the eve of the launch of a major new piece of technology; QFabric.  This forms part of the “Project Stratus” which has been on-going since 2009.


Juniper has been biting on the heels of Cisco for a number of years and in the last 18 months have gone from “minor annoyance” to “major pain in the arse” and nothing shows this better than a huge marketing campaign directly targeting them. These kind of tactics are pretty unusual in Europe but I’m aware that in some US technology sectors (specifically mobile carriers) this is relatively commonplace.


The issue with this is that History shows us that very often, is that once Group “A” tries to attach a negative moniker to Group “B”, reasonably quickly the negative connotations are turned on their head as Group “B” reclaim the moniker and turn it into a positive attribute.  Looking back over the twitter timeline you can clearly see this happening, in near-real time.  The term “Ciscoed” was coined as quickly as the term “Junipered”, completely cancelling each other out.


The other immediate impact was that Juniper almost immediately launched the final outstanding pieces of the QFabric solution in the intense spotlight created by Cisco. Whether or not this was artificially brought forward we’ll probably never know, but certainly Juniper was “heavily pregnant” with the solution.  The QFX3500 had been shipping for a couple of months, the documentation was reasonably complete and the final pieces of the QFabric puzzle had shown up already on the September price list (before Cisco launched their campaign).  The technologies which make up the whole Project Stratus vision had also spent the last couple of years slowly trickling out (specifically the Virtual Chassis technology in the EX and MX Series), improving and taking market share relatively quietly. It’s not though any of those things should be a surprise or a big secret.


I cannot see how this won’t damage Cisco and bring Juniper to the attention of CxO’s who thus far, had managed not to notice them, at the best possible time.


This isn’t really a “New Coke” moment, where an organisation fundamentally failed to understand their customers and own brand, but it does somewhat resemble the disastrous “You’re never alone with a Strand” Cigarette campaign were outcome of the campaign was completely the opposite of the desired intention. This ultimately finished it off “Strand”, I wonder what consequences this will have for Cisco?


So, in summary, Cisco have completely #Ciscoed themselves up the #Cisco on this one.


3 thoughts on “Cisco’s “Strand” Moment

  1. IPv6Freely

    Summed up nicely. The thing is… I’m not even sure what they’re talking about. As I’m sure you saw on my blog post: , QFabric was actually released right on schedule (Q3 2011). Lots of things about this PR stunt really doesn’t make sense. Why bring attention to your competitor like this? If anything, Cisco has validated that Juniper is indeed a threat with excellent offerings, or else they wouldn’t have said a word.

  2. IPv6Freely

    I absolutely agree. QFabric could be complete garbage for all I know, but that is completely irrelevant. Cisco isn’t attacking the product (nor is it innovating its own products, for that matter), it’s just mud slinging. Pathetic.


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