Cisco Canada’s new president: It’s IP all the way

TORONTO — The last image Cisco Symposium attendees saw of new Canada president Terry Walsh was of him wrestling a crocodile in Steve Irwin’s trademark safari shorts.

Walsh’s keynote address Tuesday was the first time many Canadian partners

and customers had seen him. Walsh, former Cisco country manager for Australia and New Zealand, has headed up Canada for approximately two months but less than two weeks in an official capacity.

“”Terry Walsh, Crocodile Hunter”” was the last slide in his keynote PowerPoint presentation and a joking attempt to bridge the cultural gap between Australia and Canada. The bulk of Walsh’s speech addressed his plans to wrestle Canada’s burgeoning IP market — on top of which Cisco aims to sell a string of products like voice-over IP and data management tools.

The company has already made significant strides in the market, claiming that Canada is the largest per capita user VoIP in the world. “”What’s really striking is how well-connected from a network point of view Canada is,”” said Walsh, adding that “”everything we’ve tried to research — government services, penetration of broadband — Canada is clearly a very healthy early adopter of new technology.””

The company also says it has doubled its global sales of IP phones in the last year to two million. “”What else is selling at an exponential growth curve?”” said Walsh.

He outlined Cisco’s plans to grow revenue by relying more deeply on outsourcing its product manufacturing. “”Half of the products we make we don’t touch,”” said Walsh. “”That’s how we intend to get productivity gains and double the revenue for Cisco.””

Cisco is pursuing new opportunities in the storage area network (SAN) market and selling network equipment into the small office/home office (SOHO) market. The latter is “”not something you would see us go into a few years ago,”” said Walsh. But that market is something that competitors like 3Com have capitalized on and its potential encouraged Cisco to acquire consumer networking products maker Linksys in March.

As IP networks take centre stage in the enterprise market, Walsh said that finding the right security solution will be paramount. Not only will more data be flowing across those networks, but key partners may have to access some of that data through the firewall and a security solution must be complex enough to handle those access points.

“”As IP becomes mission-critical to the business, security takes off,”” said Walsh. “”Security is an area we’ve invested a lot in to make sure we’ve got the right solution for you.””

The market may open to new opportunities, but Walsh doesn’t foresee any slam-dunk sales for Cisco. He said there has to be a demonstrable ROI — a product that can raise productivity and revenue while at the same time cutting costs.

He pointed out that even products with the best intentions can be a double-edged sword. Walsh said wireless connectivity in his home allows him to answer e-mail on his laptop while watching cartoons with his kids, but the same technology on a plane takes away one of his few opportunities to be incommunicado.

Evans Research’s director of special projects and networking Albert Daoust said that Walsh’s introduction to the industry “”lacked punch. . . . For a new man in Canada, he gave no indication that there was no radical transformation plan in Canada.””

He added, however, that Cisco Canada’s largest customers enjoy status quo.

“”Cisco’s relationships with all of its key accounts are very, very old and very deep,”” he said. “”Cisco’s top 25 customers have probably met every person who’s ever been the president of Cisco Canada.””

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