Cisco sounds Net warning

Cisco issued stern warnings about Australia's sluggish uptake of Internet technologies last week saying if it continued unabated it would damage participation in the global Internet economy.

Broadband rollout and better e-commerce stategies were high on the agenda followed closely by the industry involved initiative to address the severe IT skills shortage.

Managing director of Cisco Systems, Australia/NZ, Terry Walsh was a speaker at the Cisco conference and also outlined the shift occurring in the Australian channel driven by the Internet economy. "There are a whole range of issues that corporate Australia is trying to come to grips with that present opportunities for channel partners," he said.

"The channel used to be someone who said 'well, Cisco sells routers and somebody else sells hubs and what we have is the skills to take those components and actually work'. But the industry has consolidated and connecting the router to the switch has now become Cisco's responsibility. It's no longer about making the network work, it's about tying the network into the applications and the applications into the business processes, and giving employees access to data so they can make good decisions without impacting my balance sheets.

"There is still a healthy business for those making margins on reselling products, but most of the healthy channel partners have very strong business streams outside of the simple margin line product model. I think a lot is changing for them and as long as they are paying attention, there's a chance they can do extremely well."

Walsh said that while the falling Australian dollar has knocked his sales percentages down significantly, it has bought some focus to the impact of the Internet economy on nations and their economic prosperity.

"We have a future ahead of us that could involve us being an entire nation made up of branches of multinationals and no Australian businesses if we don't move on this fairly quickly," he said. "Just counting the number of people connected to the Internet and calling ourselves world leaders is no longer enough."

Walsh believes the cost of bandwidth in the service provider space, up to 20 times more than the US, is crippling Australian businesses that are trying to compete in the global marketplace. However, with a significant stake in the carrier market within the IP domain and recent deals struck with Telstra and PowerTel, Cisco's push for the deregulation of telco infrastructure and broadband access could seem a little self interested.

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