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Cisco Systems

Tuesday, July 9, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Joan Osborne is Next Permalink to Joan Osborne is Next

OK, I'm still listening to Dave Matthews. Yeah! Soon it will be too much. But I'm liking the cyclical and recursive nature of this tune. Is it possible? I'm wondering. At some point it may really be too much. But for now it's almost enough. Just.

Clearly Joan Osborne is next. I'm really digging her song about the spider web in Ray Charles's brain. I think I'll play it this Sunday at the San Jose Convention Center at 7PM. Maybe we'll open with Dave Matthews? Sounds like a plan! Yes.

We Got Java! Permalink to We Got Java!

Yeah. You like Java. We got it. Cooooooool.

We're getting the next release of Frontier ready, and part of the package is a new compatibility with apps written in Java. These are not applets, they are complete applications written in Java, and run by Sun's JDK.


We Love AppleScript now, and we're holding hands with Java (and sittin in a tree!). Soon we hope to move in with them, make love, and have a happy family of byte codes in our object database household. Stay tuned!

It's a new world! Very nice.

Microsoft in Business Week Permalink to Microsoft in Business Week

If you're interested in the Internet (duh!) and Microsoft (they're interesting) check out this week's Business Week cover story written by Kathy Rebello, katreb@aol.com. Rebello details the transformation of Microsoft from a PC software company into an Internet software and content company. According to the story the big transformation happened at the beginning of 1996.

I have two comments. They still have to make the transition. My stake in the ground: the day every Microsoft employee has their own web page, accessible to the public, with pointers to all the people they work with, inside and outside of Microsoft, that's the day when Microsoft will be fully committed to the net. The nature of the net is cooperative work, and connections between people that cross company lines. It's not in Microsoft's nature to be so out of control. But to be truly big in the net your presence has to be felt on an individual level. Then your tools will be truly relevent, and your people won't miss the rapid change, that really hasn't begun yet.

Every year, we think it can't get bigger. But you ain't seen nothing yet. The world is still pretty much as the world was. When this is finished you won't recognize the world. Sure trees and flowers will still be great. We'll need them! because our understanding of people is going to be totally revolutionized. We're in for quite a ride. I'm just seeing that now.

Second comment. I get an I Told You So. I was writing about this stuff in 1994, while Microsoft was still battling to get Windows 95 out and battling the Justice Department and placing their big bet on Microsoft Network. Check out the early DaveNets, especially Bill Gates vs The Internet.

Cisco Systems Permalink to Cisco Systems

In the last piece I asked which two companies should Microsoft most fear? I even answered the question. The first one was Intel. The second is Cisco Systems. I found this surprising, but Ian Bell, ian@sutton.com, a webmaster from Vancouver, didn't. Here's what he said:

"It's not surprising at all. The two companies are like Amtraks on a collision course. Why? Simple. Cisco makes software for networking, and wants to make tools for content. Microsoft makes tools for content and wants to make software for networking.

"When you buy Cisco you get a black (or blue) box. Take it apart and have a peek inside: standard components. Go down to Fry's (I can't, I live in Vancouver) or Merisel and you can buy PC parts and basically build your own Cisco box in your garage. The key is the software. Cisco makes bullet-proof software for telling packets where to go and how to get there. Increasingly though, they're moving into telling computers what kinds of packets to serve and how. They are a software vendor. The hardware platform is moving towards them. The web is the next step.

"Windows NT wants to become a ubiquitous solution for being an ISP; a content vendor; etc. At the same time they're really keen on moving towards routing and switching and subnetting because they have to in order to be a complete solution. The Normandy project is all about this. Microsoft thinks they're competing with Sun, but soon they won't be.

"I look in my rack and there's an NT server, on top of which is a Cisco 2514, on top of which is a 4700 with a bunch of ISDN BRI ports and 100BaseT. All of that hardware is the same stuff, but the core OS on the Cisco product is not DOS. What happens when Cisco wakes up tomorrow (perhaps they have) and realizes that the reason their product is so expensive is all the hardware they have to buy and build and support.

"You sell one router and it costs you $400 to make. You sell 100 routers and it still costs you 400 bucks per unit. With software, economies of scale means you can spread the cost over thousands of sales. Eventually, $2700 retail worth of software cost you $7 you make. Use somebody else's hardware! What better than the Intel platform? NT and Novell have done them a favour by putting Intel PCs at the centre of LANs worldwide.

"I heard Cisco has black boxes that serve web content. It's clear to me they're working on the software. Cisco-labelled routers are the testbed, not the solution. They're poised to move the hardware out from under NT just as NT is maturing, and they have the power to do it because they have the brainspace and the trust of network managers; and because they make awesome software, and even more awesome amounts of money.

"Microsoft will has an advantage, though, in content. As an avid Mac and NT webmaster, I know that the key to these platforms is not the server software itself, but the software that runs on the machine that complements the server software and adds value to its content. Cisco has a lot to replicate if they're going to try to maneuver in this marketplace -- especially now that server-side ActiveX controls have so much promise.

"I'm not crazy but I do drink too much. Cisco is driving lots of low-level technologies through the IETF right now in an attempt to retain control of routing, moving toward IP v2.0. Compare the number of RFCs submitted by Cisco to those submitted by Microsoft and it's pretty clear who's Amtrak is going faster."

Thanks Ian. You are so right. A clue can be found on their website. They have a dynamic page that lists all their recent acquisitions. They're moving fast. And some of the stuff they've been acquiring includes the server and content software you talk about.


It's a fascinating page, describing a big ambitious company moving very quickly, but to the kinds of people who read DaveNet, fairly invisibly.

Not any more. We'll be watching Cisco a lot more carefully.

Dave Winer

PS: Ian is the webmaster at http://www.cafe.net/.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."