I told you Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) should have kept its toes out of the server waters.
Cisco has always been deeply connected to the IT industry, and the company's wide-ranging partner network has been one of its biggest strengths. But selling servers in direct competition with longtime buddies like IBM (NYSE: IBM ) , Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , and Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) is not a move that makes Cisco any friends. It's an indirect way of taking those old relationships back a notch, kind of like texting "I need some me-time" to IBM and Dell.
Sure enough, the industry is turning against Cisco. First it was IBM that partnered up with Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR ) to sell IBM-branded networking products with Juniper hardware inside. Now Dell is doing the exact same thing, once again with Juniper as a partner. Juniper is like the second-prettiest girl at the school dance who gets all the boys' attention when the prettiest one shows up in the rival school's colors.
Dell says that the Juniper partnership is all about giving consumers choice and avoiding single-vendor lock-in. Without Dell pointing fingers, it's pretty clear that the single vendor to avoid is Cisco, with its stated and implied goal of giving enterprise customers an end-to-end data center platform under the Cisco brand.
The minute Cisco CEO John Chambers signed off on that kooky plan to sell Cisco servers may have been the beginning of the end. This is not the universally loved Cisco we used to know and, well, love. This version has enemies outside the networking world. The balance of power seems to be shifting toward smaller players like Juniper, Brocade Communications Systems (Nasdaq: BRCD ) , or Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU ) , depending on which submarket you're talking about.
Has Cisco peaked, or am I reading too much into the apparent anti-Cisco movement? Set the record straight in the comments below, dear Fool.