Cisco roundup: Citi downgrade, set-tops, UCS servers

|About: Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO)|By:, SA News Editor

Citi's Ehud Gelblum, who just started coverage on Cisco (CSCO) with a Sell, says he's concerned about core routing competition from Alcatel-Lucent, as well as potential data center switching share loss as companies embrace non-proprietary solutions.

Tough core/edge routing competition from Alcatel and Juniper likely contributed to 13% Y/Y service provider order drop Cisco reported last month. But the company has been maintaining its dominant position in data center switching. IDC thinks Cisco had a 62.3% share of the Ethernet switch market in Q3, and a 65.9% share in the growing 10-gig segment.

Cisco is counting on its new Insieme platform - praised for its performance and rich feature set, criticized for its proprietary nature - to head off competition from software-defined networking platforms that enable the use of the "open" hardware Gelblum is concerned about.

Reuters notes Cisco is facing growing pressure to unload its set-top unit, which saw a 20% Y/Y sales drop in the Oct. quarter. Cisco partly blames the drop on an IBM-like decision to shun low-margin deals, and says a stronger focus on cloud-based pay-TV video solutions will help right the ship.

Cisco is set to roll out next-gen UCS servers that will be optimized for analytics applications and carrier cloud services, among other things.

The UCS line, differentiated by its built-in networking gear and strong virtualization performance, has been a bright spot for Cisco. UCS sales rose 44% Y/Y in the Oct. quarter, and IDC estimates Cisco's server share is up to 5%.