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Cisco Emerges From Restructuring 13,000 Employees Lighter 138

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the that'll-be-ten-grand-for-another-year dept.
Joining the ranks of accepted submitters, Zibodiz writes with an article in PC World about Cisco restructuring. From the article: "Cisco Systems emerged from 150 days of restructuring on Tuesday ... The networking company started to streamline its operations and refocus itself on a few core businesses earlier this year after posting disappointing financial results. The subsequent restructuring shut down its Flip consumer camcorder unit and other businesses and eliminated 12,900 jobs, with almost 23,000 employees moved in the process. Executives laid out some more details on Tuesday at Cisco's annual financial analyst conference in San Jose, California. Cisco's five areas of focus now are its core routing and switching business, collaboration, data-center virtualization, video, and tying these elements together in an overall architecture." Zibodiz further writes "Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that Cisco had 12,900 employees that were doing things other than 'routing and switching, collaboration, virtualization, video, and ... architecture.'"
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Cisco Emerges From Restructuring 13,000 Employees Lighter

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @09:22AM (#37398504)

    The traditional model towards profitability was to sell more product, grow your operation, hire more workers and build more factories, wash-rinse-repeat.

    Today it seems like the road to profitability is to not grow, increase short-term profits by downsizing, make existing workers do more work, wash-rinse-repeat.

    That's great news if you're a CEO only concerned with the short-term profitability of your brief stint as CEO (before you bail out with your golden parachute). But it's pretty shitty news if you're a worker or a long-term investor in said company. And it's even worse news if you're out of work and looking for a job.

    • Hiring more workers is still a good sign. Layoffs means the company is having trouble, but at least they are cutting the fat.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Riceballsan (816702)
        Actually in general what I see, the fat is the last thing to go. First they cut out the muscle, then the internal organs, then they start to concider the fat. In general the initial cuts are to support, then to engineering/developing, insert a few more key links here, then finally they start to even consider the possibility of cutting their management buddies that helped drive the place into the ground to begin with. Usually they try and delay losing managers until the managers are close to a 1:1 ratio with
        • by arth1 (260657)

          The problem is that companies add links to the command chain during expansions, but seem unable to remove them when consolidating. If anything, they add layers even then, which is counter-productive and hinders integration.
          The end result is that over time, companies get heavy around the middle (to continue the fat anology).

          Any company - ANY - where there are more than five steps from the top boss to the lowest worker is going to be grossly ineffective. Not only because all the superfluous management is a

        • by Bengie (1121981)

          Yep, most CEOs like to remove R&D, engineers, programmers. Eventually they're left with a "Dilbert" corp of Managers, Sales, and Lawyers.

          • Sales, and Management tends to get cut too. Most companies don't hire lawyers are part of their payroll.

            Yes A lot of R&D projects get cut especially ones that are not part of the core business model. And when R&D gets cut the Engineers and Programmers who are working with the R&D Projects get cut.

            Most of the time a Manager should be managing 5-8 People. if there is 2 Groups with managers managing under 5 then one manager will get cut and the other will take both spots (After a bunch of Reorgan

        • by dave562 (969951)

          I have only worked at one organization that went through any significant downsizing, but it played out differently than you laid out. First they cut from the bottom and did away with as many redundancies as possible. They also aimed at parts of various departments that were not critical to the operation of the company. On the second round of layoffs they took out most of the middle management. That is what sucked the most for me. I lost my boss (no big loss, he didn't do much anyway) but then had to pi

    • by khallow (566160)
      It's a different economic climate. Most companies don't have the growing markets or high future expectation to justify hiring more people, especially in the expensive developed world.

      But it's pretty shitty news if you're a worker or a long-term investor in said company. And it's even worse news if you're out of work and looking for a job.

      So what? Should Slashdot only deliver good news from now on? Is this a religious thing where we make insincere genuflections to the people who are out of luck?

      • It's a different economic climate. Most companies don't have the growing markets or high future expectation to justify hiring more people, especially in the expensive developed world.

        But it's pretty shitty news if you're a worker or a long-term investor in said company. And it's even worse news if you're out of work and looking for a job.

        So what? Should Slashdot only deliver good news from now on? Is this a religious thing where we make insincere genuflections to the people who are out of luck?

        He never said Slashdot shouldn't report it, just that it was bad news. Call a spade a spade, I say.

        • by khallow (566160)

          He never said Slashdot shouldn't report it, just that it was bad news. Call a spade a spade, I say.

          The "call a spade a spade" adage is for situations where people dress up bad news. That's not happening here.

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        It's a different economic climate. Most companies don't have the growing markets or high future expectation to justify hiring more people, especially in the expensive developed world.
        They would if they would stop outsourcing jobs to third world countries. Then first world people would be able to buy their products and their market would grow.
        • by dave562 (969951)

          First world people do not have the jobs, and now do not have the credit to buy the products. New markets are being developed overseas where the locals have not yet sold themselves up to their eyeballs into credit/debt slavery. Unless there is a serious change to the global economic order, on the scale of "one world government" type change, that dynamic will not change.

          America fell with NAFTA and the loss of the manufacturing base. There is nothing short of armed revolution that will bring that back. And

        • by khallow (566160)

          They would if they would stop outsourcing jobs to third world countries. Then first world people would be able to buy their products and their market would grow.

          Or they can continue to outsource jobs to developing countries and grow those markets. The developed world isn't the only game in town. Most of the economic growth in the world comes from places that aren't overridden by bureaucracy and regulation.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Grow or die" leads to"Too big to fail"

      Will companies ever focus on supplying a good product at a fair price over providing a consistant 3% ROR for thier stock holders at all costs?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I believe you are on the right track, however the question you SHOULD really be asking is, "Will share holders stop their insane expectations for massive quarter over quarter growth?" Unfortunately success is no longer grounded in reality - a company that can produce a solid product, employ a static, or perhaps slowly growing number of employees, and operate in the black on an annual basis is no longer considered successful. Your company must exceed single-digit growth year over year, or you are a failure

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        "Grow or die" leads to"Too big to fail"

        Will companies ever focus on supplying a good product at a fair price over providing a consistant 3% ROR for thier stock holders at all costs?

        You're a funny guy, have a cigar.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      The traditional model towards profitability was to sell more product, grow your operation, hire more workers and build more factories, wash-rinse-repeat.

      Today it seems like the road to profitability is to not grow, increase short-term profits by downsizing, make existing workers do more work, wash-rinse-repeat.

      That's great news if you're a CEO only concerned with the short-term profitability of your brief stint as CEO (before you bail out with your golden parachute). But it's pretty shitty news if you're a worker or a long-term investor in said company. And it's even worse news if you're out of work and looking for a job.

      This is nothing new, actually if a company can come up with an excuse to get rid of workers aside from "our revenue is plummeting" is is almost always heralded as a good thing; after all it means that fewer employees will be taking up the work of those let go and the bottom line will most certainly improve. However poorly it bodes for the future, improvement to the bottom line this FQ makes investors happy. For a while it was "right-sizing" and then "restructuring" and the newest buzzword is apparently "d

      • by sjames (1099)

        For a while it was "right-sizing" and then "restructuring" and the newest buzzword is apparently "delayering" but they always mean the same thing, cut the dead weight.

        That's what they'd like you to believe. It's not what happens though. Because this is /., I'll phrase this in the form of a car analogy:

        Four executives are cruising down the highway in their limo, and decide they need to go faster, so they order the driver to floor it. However, try as they might, they just can't make the car outrun the limo in the next lane, no matter how many times they order the driver to floor it some more. He points out that there's just too much weight to go any faster.

        So, they look ar

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While you're talking of the Corporate side, let me speak on the customer side.

      When purchasing networking gear, I don't ever consider Cisco anymore. They've put a bad taste in the mouth and consider them blacklisted until further notice. Sorry, but having questionably made networking gear just isn't in the cards.

    • by v1 (525388)

      When a market is new and fresh and there are still lots of simple but good ideas that haven't been thought of yet, rapid expansion is a good thing. Once the market has matured and all of the easy niches are occupied, you have to turn and focus on what you managed to get a good foot in the door on.

      If you keep trying to expand out in every direction you're in trouble. It's a bit like life in a petri dish - when you have the dish all to yourself you can expand all you want and it's great. Once the plate is

    • by alen (225700) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @10:21AM (#37399210)

      kind of hard to sell more routers and switches when your 10 year old products are more than enough for a lot of your customers

      • by jpedlow (1154099)
        If I had points to give. I'd mod you up so hard.

        I'm the sysadmin at a medium sized company, and we just ordered a bunch of USED 7206VXR's with NPE400's. Why? Because they're $1300 each and they haul ass & handle MPLS and VOICE. I'm happy with that for the price. :)

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        Until the competition keeps releasing higher and higher bandwidth switches/router and someone comes up with a new killer apps that makes use of it. Then you're left in the dust, and you lose most of your customers. Network admins don't like to have lots of different switch brands, then there's more to keep track of. Cisco falls behind and maybe HP and/or Juniper fill the void, and in the several years it takes to release a competing product, most of their customers have already jumped ship and gutted their

      • by jthill (303417)
        Spend-and-spend has worked so much better than tax-and-spend.
        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Best thing is to allow market to earn and spend. Spending occurs in market absent government mandates and free money, and the inflation is created by the federal reserve devaluing the currency by printing it out of existence, which provides reason to gamble with money and create waste [slashdot.org], and then market solution is a recession, but the government in power wants to be reelected, so its only SOP is to pour as much counterfeit currency into the system as possible [slashdot.org], providing a temporary high, which still doesn't

          • by jthill (303417)
            Profit extraction is not wealth creation. The measure is not the thing. Metrics can be decoupled, gamed, perverted. What responsible people do in an unregulated market is one thing. What the people advocating lately do is something else entirely. Believing that all wealthy people are good, or that bad people with wealth won't do horrible damage, or that government shouldn't stop them, is beyond merely naive.
            • by roman_mir (125474)

              Believing that all wealthy people are good, or that bad people with wealth won't do horrible damage, or that government shouldn't stop them, is beyond merely naive.

              - that's why I don't believe anything (and I am an atheist).

              I don't believe in good intentions, I believe in self interest.

              Self interest is what makes people want to make a profit. Self interest and making a profit is what makes people try to come up with products that other people may want to buy, thus providing the profits for those, who are self-interested.

              Profit is the best motivator we have. Government can also profit some people by stealing money via taxes/counterfeiting and inflating/borrowing and t

              • Self interest is what causes people to band together and form governments to help protect them from others who control vital resources and would otherwise take advantage of them, or who fraudulently or deceptively trade (as two examples).

                • by roman_mir (125474)

                  Well, at the very least in USA, the government was formed for a very specific function: protection of liberties and freedoms in order to achieve a 'more perfect union'. The point was to occupy the space that would otherwise be power vacuum, and would be filled in with something that would appear spontaneously.

                  This is was like a programming effort, but eventually it was hacked, cracked to do something that it was not intended to - the exact opposite, to steal your freedoms, to steal everything from you.

                  • The government of the United States, formed under the Constitution, was intended to fulfill the following functions:

                    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

                    To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

                    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with th

                    • by roman_mir (125474)

                      The government of the United States, formed under the Constitution, was intended to fulfill the following functions:

                      - your wrote that, and then you wrote the MEANS by which the actual GOAL was to be obtained.

                      You didn't write the GOAL.

                      The GOAL is to provide a more perfect union by protecting individual liberties and freedoms, to protect people's rights, property, to uphold criminal and contract law.

                      The GOAL is NOT to "collect taxes and duties" - those are MEANS to the GOAL.

                      So you are so confused when it comes to the PURPOSE of government, why don't you take 5 minutes to think about this: do YOU exist so that government c

                    • Read the first paragraph again. I even bold part of it as a hint.

                    • by roman_mir (125474)

                      General Welfare doesn't have anything to do with personal welfare, but it has everything to do with making sure that the field is level, there are no abuses, especially by government.

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                Profit is the best motivator we have.

                I am not motivated by profit in any aspect of my life, including work. And, yes, I do work for a commercial for-profit organisation. Profit makes no difference to me, my motivation is to do my job well.

                • by roman_mir (125474)

                  Those who employ you are not driven by the same motivations as you are. Your employment is a function of difference between the value that you deliver to your employer and the cost of your employment, or profit that you generate for your employer.

                  Your employment comes as a function of profit and capital available to your employer. Profit is what keeps you there and capital is what makes you productive, as capital provides you with tools and everything you need to do your work.

                  Whether you are driven by it o

    • by Beorytis (1014777)

      Today it seems like the road to profitability is to not grow, increase short-term profits by downsizing, make existing workers do more work, wash-rinse-repeat.

      Makes perfect sense in a world where the road to better government is to eliminate the government.

    • How many billions of $$$ in Flip Cameras did they expect sell?
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "hire more workers and build more factories"

      That made sense when you needed more workers and more factories, both of which are COST centers.

      Remember the great "smokestack" industries, like "Big Steel"?

      We use vastly more steel nowadays, made with far fewer steelworkers.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        that made sense when you needed more workers and more factories, both of which are COST centers.

        No, factories are profit centres, things like HR are cost centres.

    • by Tom (822)

      That's great news if you're a CEO only concerned with the short-term profitability of your brief stint as CEO

      Even if you are there for a long term, it's still a good strategy. Because "long term" these days means something like 10 years.

      Companies that are run by their owners, instead of some managers, are usually build to last, because the guys want to live until retirement and then some off the profits of the company, and hopefully leave it for his kids afterwards.

      And managers... well, I'll just point out that there are quite a few scientific studies that show that the average manager is not really any better at

      • by ATMAvatar (648864)

        And managers... well, I'll just point out that there are quite a few scientific studies that show that the average manager is not really any better at managing than any average joe picked off the street.

        There's a good reason [wikipedia.org] for that.

        • by Tom (822)

          Actually, why the Peter Principle is a good laugh and we all know we've felt that way at one time or the other, the main reason is that manager is one of those jobs that we put on people without anyone having, say, received the equivalent of a diploma. And no, the MBA doesn't count, check out its usual contents and then ask yourself how much will be useful for the day-to-day activities of that a middle manager.

          It really is a lot like politics. You can study politics, but actually running a country is not so

    • by DaveGod (703167)

      The traditional model towards profitability was to sell more product, grow your operation, hire more workers and build more factories, wash-rinse-repeat.

      This was the bad idea. Or rather, it was once they took it beyond the point at which it ceased to be a good idea.

      Note Cisco bought a company with the intention to sell more of it's product, grow the operation, etc etc. Evidently, they weren't very good at it. Those jobs might or might not have gone already had Cisco never bought the company, so it's hard to determine whether the net position is that Cisco's involvement shortened or lengthened those jobs.

      A problem with giant corporations is they can get so m

    • a. get hedge funds as new investors (grow your investor base)
      b. schmooze wall street analysts
      c. tell your majority shareholders (CEO, main board members/angel investors) to dump stock/options
      d. ask gov't for a bail out, ask for lower taxes
      e. horde cash into the company
      f. buy up competitors
      g. layoff duplication of resources
      h. tell wall street you made a huge profit
      I. Profit! Go back to step a and repeat.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      The only solution to this would be to completely change the way stock markets operate, presumably by nationalising them so that they are forced by law to abandon short term trading gains but instead have to concentrate on helping long term investment, which is supposed to be their purpose.

      The likelihood of that happening is about the same as me winning the lottery. Three imes in a row.
  • Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that Cisco had 12,900 employees that were doing things other than 'routing and switching, collaboration, virtualization, video, and ... architecture.'"

    We call those people 'managers' in other industries.

    • by mtmra70 (964928)

      Or people performing non-core business needs (janitors, shipping/receiving, security and various other support services). Any time a company fires X amount of people, they either downsize and also fire X+Y or they outsource and fire X then hire X number of contractors. The news never reports on the actual number of people affected.

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        Thanks. I started to post this same point, but Slashdot ate my post. There's HR, training, travel coordinators, project management, facilities (building maintenance, for instance), mailroom staff, on-site copy personnel, cafeteria staff... A lot of times I see people assuming that if you're not technical then you're overhead, but they never stop to consider the sheer amount of work required to support the core business functions.

        By the way, the actual quote is this:

        Cisco's five areas of focus now are its core routing and switching business, collaboration, data-center virtualization, video, and tying these elements together in an overall architecture.

        Emphasis mine.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And just to be clear, some of those 12,900 actually were supporting one (or more) of the five focus areas. A good-sized chunk were early retirees, many of whom were "core" engineers and managers. Not all of the lay-offs were non-essential or non-productive personnel, either. There is always collateral damage, especially when companies paint budget reductions with a broad brush.

          • by kiwimate (458274)

            Yes, good point about the people taking voluntary early retirement [networkworld.com]. From that article:

            ...non-commission-incentive employees will receive one year's regular base pay plus their annual incentive target amount. Commission-incentive employees will receive 80% of one year's regular base pay, plus 80% of their annual target commissions...

            Health benefits will include a lump-sum payment equivalent to 24 months of current medical, dental, and vision coverage...

            Cisco will also provide 401(k) and stock payments to eligible employees. For 401(k) plans, the company will provide a one-time payment equal to approximately two years of company matching contributions, paid as a lump sum outside of the 401(k) plan. Payment will be calculated as 4.5% multiplied by total 2011 target compensation, up to a $245,000 limit, regardless of participants' actual 401(k) participation level.

            And it wasn't about getting mid-career people out and cutting 20 years off their expected jobs.

            The program is aimed at a segment of U.S. and Canadian employees at least 50 years old who have a combined age plus years of service with Cisco totaling at least 60

            • by yuna49 (905461)

              And it wasn't about getting mid-career people out and cutting 20 years off their expected jobs.

              The program is aimed at a segment of U.S. and Canadian employees at least 50 years old who have a combined age plus years of service with Cisco totaling at least 60

              It's always about getting rid of those of us over 50 who are just too expensive to keep on-board. I'm 61 with an impressive resume and can't get anyone to respond to my attempts to secure a new job. Firms don't attach any value to experience; they onl

              • by NevarMore (248971)

                And it wasn't about getting mid-career people out and cutting 20 years off their expected jobs.

                The program is aimed at a segment of U.S. and Canadian employees at least 50 years old who have a combined age plus years of service with Cisco totaling at least 60

                It's always about getting rid of those of us over 50 who are just too expensive to keep on-board. I'm 61 with an impressive resume and can't get anyone to respond to my attempts to secure a new job. Firms don't attach any value to experience; they only look at the cost side. Replacing a 55-yo employee with 30 years of experience with a 25-year-old newcomer at half or less the salary and benefits is what passes for "human relations" in corporations these days.

                Stick with it. The young devs in our 20's need you more than we know.

                My last gig had me working with a great man (hi skoona!!) who was in his 50's, retired from one of the big names in computing, and wanted to get back to straight up software development. I was a few years out of college and just settling in to a lead developer role. Hiring that man for a small, young team was one of the best decisions my boss made. The good older developers come with a lot of extra experience beyond the technical stuff, I

                • by dave562 (969951)

                  . I was a few years out of college and just settling in to a lead developer role.

                  How would you feel if your boss pulled you out of the lead role and put the old man in front of you? Try to be honest, not looking back with 20/20 hindsight on how good of an experience it turned out to be.

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                It's always about getting rid of those of us over 50 who are just too expensive to keep on-board. I'm 61 with an impressive resume and can't get anyone to respond to my attempts to secure a new job. Firms don't attach any value to experience; they only look at the cost side. Replacing a 55-yo employee with 30 years of experience with a 25-year-old newcomer at half or less the salary and benefits is what passes for "human relations" in corporations these days.

                I'm edging up to 50 myself, so I'm not unsympathetic, but the fact is that if a company can get a job done by someone at half the cost, why wouldn't they?

                If a 25 year old can do a particular job as well as a 50 year old, then the latter's 25 years worth of experience is irrelevant. He should be in a different and presumably more senior role.if he wants to capitalize on that experience and justify earning twice as much.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Cisco has never had any of those people on their payroll and hence they've never been counted in employee numbers. When I worked at Cisco I was a contractor because deskside support was non-core and so even though it was more expensive to have IBM manage the contract and GE provide the technicians and managers it was done that way. This allowed them to keep their target of $1M per employee per year in revenue.
  • the main issue (Score:4, Informative)

    by sxpert (139117) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @09:34AM (#37398626)
    imho, the main problem with cisco is their inability to have a decent price list that one can count on, all hardware is sold at a variable discount different for each customer, seemingly depending on the direction of the wind. Also the necessity of having an active support contract to get firmware upgrades including the ones that patch urgent security bugs is a turn off, in particular when one has payed 5 or 6 figures for a piece of equipment...
    • by jroysdon (201893)

      Get more quotes. 3 is the minimum, ever. 5-6 is best. Whoever has "registered" you with Cisco first will have an additional discount that others may not have had (but others with gold or other status already have some discounts). Never lump parts with SmartNET or labor - get bids all 3 individually, or make sure you can line-item order.

  • by DontBlameCanada (1325547) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @09:36AM (#37398648)

    In the spirit of "sharing the pain" all groups were tagged with layoff requirements. This included lean teams doing critical operations in core businesses (routing, aggregation, security etc).

    While the engineers are still excellent, Cisco is no longer a company run by skilled technical professionals focused on delivering quality products. Its an accounting operation infested with old-boys-clubs where decisions are primarily the result of office politics, not technical correctness. The smart people are leaving, the lucky ones are getting laid off with severance packages, the unfortunate are left holding the bag.

    • by alen (225700)

      john chambers was never an engineer. he came up from sales

    • by parallel_prankster (1455313) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @10:38AM (#37399468)
      You have no idea how correct you are. As someone who has worked in the "core" areas, Cisco leadership now comprises of people who have stayed there due to various reasons like politics, visa issues etc etc. Most of the really smart people responsible for the networking boom in Cisco have left for greener ventures or they got tired of the politics/incompentency that is rampant in Cisco. Another example that is really close to my heart - The unit I worked for has around 500+ people out of which it is safe to say 450+ are Indians. It is safe to say the situation is the same in other units as well. The culture has become so Indianized that managers often talk in hindi and organize lunches to Indian places even if there is maybe 1 non-indian in the group (what will he do , quit ? ). The situation is so bad that even within Indians there is politics. My group that I worked on comprises of 5 people out of which 4 are from the same part of India. The 2nd level Manager only looks for people that are from the same part of India as he is. This is also visible in other groups across my BU. No problem against Indians for me, but these people brought with them a highly non-professional and obsolete management style consisting of manager-worship, no questions asked style of leadership and that was suffocating for me as a developer. Any average person like me in Cisco is bound to get frustrated and leave!. Most people there choose to stay because they have their green cards being processed and they cannot leave. The managers know that well and they try to exploit that in every way possible. The end result is an extremely mediocre management team that now faces competition from Huawei, Juniper, HP etc and has no clue how to go about it.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Honestly, I was at Cisco for ten years and saw the same issue you bring up with homogenized groups of cultures leading to people being ostracized. However, I would point out that for different groups of people there was more heterogeneous people and less so in others. There is a lot of politics and racial division... not sure if the old Italian mafia has any influence left, but they certainly had their own little Italy in the core 6k switching.

        I left Cisco and went to a company that was mostly mainland Ch

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In the spirit of "sharing the pain" all groups were tagged with layoff requirements. This included lean teams doing critical operations in core businesses (routing, aggregation, security etc).

      While the engineers are still excellent, Cisco is no longer a company run by skilled technical professionals focused on delivering quality products. Its an accounting operation infested with old-boys-clubs where decisions are primarily the result of office politics, not technical correctness. The smart people are leaving, the lucky ones are getting laid off with severance packages, the unfortunate are left holding the bag.

      In the spirit of "sharing the pain" all groups were tagged with layoff requirements. This included lean teams doing critical operations in core businesses (routing, aggregation, security etc).

      While the engineers are still excellent, Cisco is no longer a company run by skilled technical professionals focused on delivering quality products. Its an accounting operation infested with old-boys-clubs where decisions are primarily the result of office politics, not technical correctness. The smart people are leaving, the lucky ones are getting laid off with severance packages, the unfortunate are left holding the bag.

      As a Corporate customer with a long history of using Cisco Products, I could not agree more.

      Cisco's solution for poorly written ,documented, and tested code seems to be to sell you "advanced services". No thanks, that's why we pay you for Suppoot.

      It would seem they've outsourced themselves to the point they can no longer deliver.

      • by jroysdon (201893)

        I couldn't agree more. I rarely contact TAC, and typically when I do it is due to a bug. Last bug I ran into was with their Botnet DNS and alias code in the ASA. Could not get TAC to continue working the issue without giving them my configs, which I cannot. I didn't have time to lab a clean config with the minimum portions to reproduce, and they won't carry the ball without. Worthless support.

  • I hope they got rid of Robert Barr, the man from the redundancy detector van [openbsd.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cisco is one of the most annoying, difficult companies to buy from.

    They have so many products, with many different feature levels, with many different service contracts, that no one I have talked to understands what they sell.

    I've actually had to say to them:

    I AM TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY. THIS IS A VITAL FUNCTION FOR ANY BUSINESS. INSTEAD OF MAKING IT EASY FOR ME TO GIVE YOU MONEY, YOU ARE MAKING IT HARD FOR ME TO GIVE YOU MONEY!

    • by quetwo (1203948) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @10:32AM (#37399368) Homepage

      You could buy from a different vendor. There are lots of other manufactures that make great products -- most make products MUCH better than Cisco. Companies like Juniper, Extreme, Foundry, etc. all make products that end up being cheaper, more reliable and often faster than their Cisco counterpart.

      Cisco lost a lof of their edge in the last 10 years when they stopped focusing on their core products. They only enhanced their products to make them work better with the products they were buying. Others have surpassed them in most products.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      I AM TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY
      At least half of the companies I try to buy from will not answer their phone when I call, and will not answer phone calls or e-mails. Why should Cisco be any different? Apparently, the economy is doing so well that salespeople can actively ignore people wanting to buy stuff from their company.
  • Between this and Bank of America dropping thousands of jobs, I'm starting to wonder.

  • Don't forget the "Helping Governments Spy on their Citizens" area. That's probably the reason for the virtualization, though. Hell, it was probably the reason they killed off that HD camcorder thing. Can't have people uploading high-def videos of the communist reptilian space aliens who run things, now can we? They probably thought they would be able to co-opt it in real time like all those UFO videos you see where the first one looks real and then the poorly-done fakes start pouring in and discredit th

  • We have several of them and my family loves them. They were easy to use and took decent quality movies. They were 1000x easier to use than our regular Canon HD Camcorder. This you could just pull out of your pocket and make a video. The other required setup time, hooking up our Rode shotgun mic, digital tapes, etc.

    Cisco purchased a great product and basically killed it. Probably mostly due to advertising. They had TONS of paid celebrities doing ads for them and 1,000s of posters everywhere. There had

    • by bastia (145202)
      I believe that smartphones with video overtook the Flip faster than Cisco expected. The Flip was a good little device, but it was too expensive for a single purpose device once smartphones started including HD video recording. Cisco would either have to drop the Flip prices and work for much smaller margins, or it would have to kill the division. It chose to do the latter so that it could use that money on its core products.
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        They could have advertised it as a smart phone. What are the odds anybody would ever try to make a call on it?
      • The problem with smartphones as video cameras:
        -wastes battery you probably, at some point will need for a phone call
        -you have to consider video recording space when deciding how many movies, mp3s you might be putting on there.
        -the camera itself is of inferior quality *most* of the time. I have not yet tried the newest HD smartphones but with any SD one from last year, high motion video (or even stills) and you will notice a few microseconds of lag between when the top of the frame is captured versus the bo

  • Odd claims (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @10:13AM (#37399072)

    First Cisco offered an Early Retirement Package... this backfired since many of the senior technical folks, who would have no problems getting a job somewhere else took the package and immediately got a job at a competitor. Nothing like paying top talent to work somewhere else.

    They as part of the layoffs they said that they would lay off 15% of all VP and higher folks. A few Distinguished Engineers were let go.

    Then this morning they announced that FOUR new VPs were made Senior VPs.

    Cisco's employee profile is shaped like an hour glass, you're either upper management or a grunt. There is no middle class here. I"ve also heard of this place like a upside down pyramid. Btw, VPs get a compensation that is orders of magnitude greater than any individual contributor (including Distinguished Engineers, for which there are 100 in the entire company).

    • They outsource a LOT of their labor, if your an engineer you can make upwards of $2000 /day doing work for various telecoms.
    • by bastia (145202)
      Compared to some other companies, I'm actually impressed with the length of Cisco's technical track. It's possible to a long technical career within the company with regular pay increases and promotions without switching to the "business" side. In many companies, promotions quickly push technical people into management or technical sales or something. I haven't seen that at Cisco.

      Of course, I still expect that the people who are closer to sales and major product decisions (VPs and SVPs) to make more th

      • Compared to some other companies, I'm actually impressed with the length of Cisco's technical track. It's possible to a long technical career within the company with regular pay increases and promotions without switching to the "business" side. In many companies, promotions quickly push technical people into management or technical sales or something. I haven't seen that at Cisco.

        Of course, I still expect that the people who are closer to sales and major product decisions (VPs and SVPs) to make more than the senior engineers. Fortunately, I've also seen that Cisco is willing to fire upper management if they make too big or too many bad decisions that hurt margins, product quality, etc. Listening to the message Chambers has been putting out, part of the restructuring seems to be aimed at increased accountability in upper management. It's no use to build awesome products if the company can't sell them or can't sell them at a profit.

        Well, they'd be able to trim a lot of technical too if they cleaned up all the integration to make things easier to integrate. I know in the Video-Conferencing stuff that was suppose to happen with Version 6. Don't know if it did; but the database in Version 5 was not easy to decode - took me a few days to work out an ERD for it and there was no help from Cisco on that.

  • Best way to vote is with your dollar. If you don't like the way corporate conservatism is further corrupting the US economic/political system then man-up and stop supporting the megacorps. There's other ways of routing/firewalling network traffic if you are not afraid to have the skills.

  • by gordona (121157) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @11:32AM (#37400162) Homepage
    Some of the 12900 employees that were laid off or had voluntarily retired were doing things outside of the 5 areas of focus. Some on my development team were in one these areas but the bulk of the development in this area was shifted overseas. A large number of the voluntary retirees were doing work in these areas as well. With some of these folks in very key roles.
  • Zibodiz further writes "Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that Cisco had 12,900 employees that were doing things other than 'routing and switching, collaboration, virtualization, video, and ... architecture.'"

    No, Cisco probably is firing many thousands of workers who were working on those core business activities that Cisco is retaining. There's no simple relationship between what a worker was doing and what the corporate rulers say the corporation will now do, when the corporation fires so many p

  • Good read on the back of the recent WSJ article by Andreessen about 'Software eating the world'. The post makes the case that Cisco is 'doomed' on the basis that 'If the output of your hardware is information or the manipulation of information then you are going to get eaten. If the output is something else then you are not.'

    http://brontecapital.blogspot.com/2011/08/software-eats-part-of-world.html [blogspot.com]

    With Intel buying Fulcrum, Vyatta and other virtual networking plays entering this space, the current metho

  • Cisco appear to have acquired Tandberg (video conferencing stuff) and are hiring. This huge layoff/outsourcing doesn't give me a great deal of confidence in them, so what's going on?

    What are they up to?

    I suppose they could get some new development going and then outsource to India it after 12-18 months.

    • by dave562 (969951)

      The article mentioned that VIDEO is one of the key areas that they are focusing on. Tandberg fits there, and the Tandberg acquisition is a key part of Cisco's portfolio. They had to go to bat against the DoJ on that one. Tandberg has the best video conferencing solution on the market.

      • by turgid (580780)

        Yes, I can read. But are they likely to make a decent go of it? Often when these big companies buy another, the products and staff wither on the vine, usually because of management incompetence trying to impose their failing culture on the acquisition.

        • by dave562 (969951)

          What does your pessimism have to do with the reality of the specifics involved with Cisco acquiring Tandberg?

      • by jroysdon (201893)

        I think Cisco has had their eyes on the Tandberg line for a long time, ever since their CallManager protocols were licensed to them and Video was taking off. While Cisco could make all their own gear, my guess is they need Tandberg's patents, which will also stifle any competition.

        • by dave562 (969951)

          Exactly, they did need the patents. I'm not so sure about your claim about stifling competition though. The DoJ went over that deal with a fine toothed comb and even issued a second request for information. Polycomm threw their hat into the ring against the deal. In the end the analysis showed that the deal was a good one for everyone involved, including consumers.

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