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Having slightly exceeded analyst expectations, the company must now maintain momentum as it evolves from a networking hardware company to a supplier of cloud management platforms, video communication tools and other emerging IT services.
In a statement, Cisco CEO John Chambers pointed out that Cisco has achieved record revenue for eight consecutive quarters. "… we are making solid progress towards our goal of becoming the #1 IT company in the world," he said. "As new markets grow and are created, such as the Internet of Everything, it's very easy to see how the intelligent network is at the center of that future."
During the company's earnings call, CFO Frank Calderoni said data center resources and cloud computing tools were major drivers of growth. The company's revenue growth retreated 5% in recession-plagued Europe but grew 9% in the Americas and 8.4% in the Asia-Pacific region. The company's successful Wall Street showing also benefited from a $926 million tax settlement with the IRS.
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The physical routers and switches that have traditionally supported Cisco's business are currently giving way to virtual replacements, and Cisco has taken aggressive steps in recent months to keep its portfolio ahead of the technological curve. As recently as last fall, the networking giant's customers were expressing concern over the company's complicated products and unclear corporate agenda. The outlook has grown rosier, though, as CEO Chambers has forged a clear emphasis on the enterprise.
Cisco's progress has stemmed in part from housecleaning, such as its shedding of Linksys and other consumer-oriented distractions. A proactive attitude toward acquisitions, however, has been important, too. Since October, Cisco has purchased Cloupia and Meraki to enhance its cloud management tools, vCider and Cariden to build its software defined networking platform, and BroadHop to expand its network programmability expertise.
The company also has produced tools that allow wired and wireless networks to be managed from a single console; has invested in the promise of pervasive sensing and the Internet of Everything; and has established services based on location-based analytics and network monetization.
In an email interview, Scott Dennehy, senior analyst at IT research firm TBR, said Cisco had a "solid quarter." He praised the recent acquisitions for reaffirming the company's core business and singled out software-defined networking as an area of potential growth. He noted, however, that this technology, which abstracts the physical components of a network to a virtual control panel, could present challenges because it "threatens" an existing customer base that has invested time and money in older hardware. Nonetheless, Dennehy foresees growth in software-defined networking promising to Cisco's consulting and system integration verticals.
During the earnings call, Cisco executives forecast that sales will increase between 4% and 6% during the current quarter.
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