1982–1995: early yearsCisco Systems was founded in December 1984 by two members of Stanford University computer support staff: Leonard Bosack who was in charge of the computer science department's computers, and Sandy Lerner, who managed the Graduate School of Business' computers.
Despite founding Cisco in 1984, Bosack, along with Kirk Lougheed, continued to work at Stanford on Cisco's first product which consisted of exact replicas of Stanford's "Blue Box" router and a stolen copy of the University's multiple-protocol router software, originally written some years earlier at Stanford medical school by William Yeager - a Stanford research engineer — which they adapted into what became the foundation for Cisco IOS. On July 11, 1986, Bosack and Kirk Lougheed were forced to resign from Stanford and the University contemplated filing criminal complaints against Cisco and its founders for the theft of its software, hardware designs and other intellectual properties. In 1987, Stanford licensed the router software and two computer boards to Cisco.
In addition to Bosack, Lerner and Lougheed, Greg Satz, a programmer, and Richard Troiano, who handled sales completed the early Cisco team. The company's first CEO was Bill Graves, who held the position from 1987 to 1988. In 1988, John Morgridge was appointed CEO.
The name "Cisco" was derived from the city name, San Francisco, which is why the company's engineers insisted on using the lower case "cisco" in the early days.
On February 16, 1990, Cisco Systems went public (with a market capitalization of $224 million) and was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. On August 28, 1990, Lerner was fired; upon hearing the news, her husband Bosack resigned in protest. The couple walked away from Cisco with $170 million, 70% of which was committed to their own charity.
Although Cisco was not the first company to develop and sell dedicated network nodes, it was one of the first to sell commercially successful routers supporting multiple network protocols. Classical, CPU-based architecture of early Cisco devices coupled with flexibility of operating system IOS allowed for keeping up with evolving technology needs by means of frequent software upgrades. Some popular models of that time (such as Cisco 2500) managed to stay in production for almost a decade virtually unchanged—a rare sight in high-tech industry. Although Cisco was strongly rooted in the enterprise environment, the company was quick to capture the emerging service provider environment, entering SP market with new, high-capacity product lines such as Cisco 7000 and Cisco 7500.
Between 1992 and 1994, Cisco acquired several companies in Ethernet switching, such as Kalpana, Grand Junction, and most notably, Mario Mazzola's Crescendo Communications which together formed the Catalyst business unit. At the time, the company envisioned layer 3 routing and layer 2 (Ethernet, Token Ring) switching as complementary functions of different intelligence and architecture—the former was slow and complex, the latter was fast but simple. This philosophy dominated the company's product lines throughout 1990s.
In 1995, John Morgridge was succeeded by John Chambers.
1996–2009: Internet and silicon intelligenceThe phenomenal growth of the Internet in mid-to-late 1990s quickly changed the telecom landscape. As the Internet Protocol (IP) became widely adopted, the importance of multi-protocol routing declined. Nevertheless, Cisco managed to catch the Internet wave, with products ranging from modem access shelves (AS5200) to core GSR routers that quickly became vital to Internet service providers and by 1998 gave Cisco de facto monopoly in this critical segment.
In late March 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble, Cisco became the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of more than US$500 billion. In November 2011, with a market cap of about US$94 billion, it is still one of the most valuable companies.
Meanwhile, the growth of Internet bandwidth requirements kept challenging traditional, software-based packet processing architectures.
The perceived complexity of programming routing functions in silicon, led to formation of several startups determined to find new ways to process IP and MPLS packets entirely in hardware and blur boundaries between routing and switching. One of them, Juniper Networks, shipped their first product in 1999 and by 2000 chipped away about 30% from Cisco SP Market share. Cisco answered the challenge with homegrown ASICs and fast processing cards for GSR routers and Catalyst 6500 switches. In 2004, Cisco also started migration to new high-end hardware CRS-1 and software architecture IOS-XR.
2006–2012: The Human NetworkAs part of a massive rebranding campaign in 2006, Cisco Systems adopted the shortened name "Cisco" and created "The Human Network" advertising campaign. These efforts were meant to make Cisco a "household" brand—a strategy designed to support the low-end Linksys products and future consumer products (such as Flip Video camera acquired by Cisco in 2009).
On the more traditional business side, Cisco continued to develop its extensive enterprise-focused routing, switching and security portfolio. Quickly growing importance of Ethernet also influenced the company's product lines, prompting the company to morph the successful Catalyst 6500 Ethernet switch into all-purpose Cisco 7600 routing platform. However, limits of IOS and aging Crescendo architecture also forced Cisco to look at merchant silicon in the carrier Ethernet segment. This resulted in a new ASR9000 product family intended to consolidate company's carrier ethernet and subscriber management business around EZChip-based hardware and IOS-XR. Cisco also expanded into new markets by acquisition—one example being a 2009 purchase of mobile specialist Starent Networks that resulted in ASR5000 product line.
Bengaluru for $1 billion, and planning that 20% of Cisco's leaders would be based there.
However, Cisco continued to be challenged by both domestic Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks and overseas competitors Huawei. Due to lower-than-expected profit in 2011, Cisco was forced to reduce annual expenses by $1 billion. The company cut around 3,000 employees with an early-retirement program who accepted buyout and planned to eliminate as many as 10,000 jobs (around 14 percent of the 73,400 total employees before curtailment). During the 2011 analyst call, Cisco's CEO John Chambers called out several competitors by name, including Juniper and HP.
On 24 July 2012, Cisco received approval from the EU to acquire NDS (a TV software developer) for USD 5 billion. This acquisition signaled the end of the "The Human Network" strategy as Cisco found itself backing off from household hardware like Linksys  and Flip into the cloud and software solutions.
2013–Present: The Internet of EverythingCisco launches its first global re-branding campaign for the first time in six years with its "TOMORROW starts here" and "Internet of Everything" advertising campaigns. These efforts were designed to position Cisco for the next ten years into a global leader in connecting the previously unconnected and facilitate the IP address connectivity of people, data, processes and things through cloud computing applications and services.
On July 23, 2013, Cisco Systems announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sourcefire for $2.7 billion.
Media and awardsCisco products, most notably IP phones and Telepresence, are frequently sighted in movies and TV series. The company itself and its history was featured in the documentary film Something Ventured which premiered in 2011.
Cisco was a 2002–03 recipient of the Ron Brown Award, a U.S. presidential honor to recognize companies "for the exemplary quality of their relationships with employees and communities". Cisco commonly stays on top of Fortune "100 Best Companies to work for", with position No. 20 in 2011.
AcquisitionsCisco acquired a variety of companies to spin products and talent into the company. In 1995–1996 the company completed 11 acquisitions. Several acquisitions, such as Stratacom, were the biggest deals in the industry when they occurred. During the Internet boom in 1999, the company acquired Cerent Corporation, a start-up company located in Petaluma, California, for about US$7 billion. It was the most expensive acquisition made by Cisco to that date, and only the acquisition of Scientific Atlanta has been larger. Several acquired companies have grown into $1Bn+ business units for Cisco, including LAN switching, Enterprise Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) platform Webex, and home networking. The latter came as result of Cisco acquiring Linksys in 2003 and in 2010 was supplemented with new product line dubbed Cisco Valet. Cisco announced on March 15, 2012 that it is acquiring NDS Group for $5B. This transaction was completed on July 30, 2012.
In the recent merger deals, Cisco bought Starent Networks (a mobile packet core company) and Moto Development Group, a product design consulting firm that helped develop Cisco's Flip video camera. Also in 2010, Cisco became a key stakeholder in e-Skills Week. In March 2011, Cisco completed the acquisition of privately held network configuration and change management solutions company Pari Networks.
Although many buy-ins (such as Crescendo Networks in 1993, Tandberg in 2010) resulted in acquisition of flagship technology to Cisco, many others have failed—partially or completely. For instance, in 2010 Cisco occupied a meaningful share of the packet-optical market, revenues were still not on par with US$7 billion price tag paid in 1999 for Cerent. Some of acquired technologies (such as Flip from Pure Digital) saw their product lines terminated.
In January 2013, Cisco Systems acquired Israeli software maker Intucell for around $475 million in cash, a move to expand its mobile network management offerings. In the same month, Cisco Systems acquired Cognitive Security, a company focused on Cyber Threat Protection. Cisco also acquired SolveDirect(Cloud Services) in March 2013 and Ubiquisys(Modile Software) in April 2013.
Products and services
||This section appears to contain a large number of buzzwords. (August 2012)|
Corporate marketCorporate market refers to enterprise networking and service providers.
- Borderless networks
-  for their range of routers, switches, wireless systems, security systems, WAN acceleration, energy and building management systems and media aware networks.
- IP video and phones, TelePresence, HealthPresence, Unified Communications, Call Center systems, Enterprise social networks and Mobile applications
- Datacenter and Virtualization
- Unified Computing, Unified Fabric, Data Centre Switching, Storage Networking and Cloud Computing services.
- IP NGN (Next Generation Networks)
- High-end routing and switching for fixed and mobile service provider networks, broadcast video contribution/distribution, entitlement and content delivery systems.
Small businessesSmall businesses include home businesses and (usually technology-based) startups.
- Routers and switches
- The machines that route and redirect packets across a network, including those for networks of smart meters.
- Security and surveillance
- IP cameras, data and network security solutions, etc.
- Voice and conferencing solutions
- VOIP phones and gateway-systems, WebEx, video conferencing
- WiFi Access points
- Network storage systems
- Persistent storage on networks, either in the traditional sense or in a cloud-like manner.
Home userHome user refers to individuals or families who require these kinds of services.
- Broadband refers to cable modems.
- Flip Video
- With the acquisition of Pure Digital Technologies, Cisco began to sell a line of video recording devices called "Flip Video" that had been Pure Digital's only line of products. This line of products was not as popular as Cisco had thought it would have been, and on April 12, 2011, Cisco announced they were discontinuing all Flip camera production. Cisco ūmi product line—video conferencing for home also proved to be a short-lived bid for consumer multimedia market and did survive in Cisco product lineup.
- Datacenter products: Nexus Switches (1000v, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 7000), MDS, Unified Computing System (UCS)
- Routers, including: 837, 1000 Series, 2500 Series, 7600, 12000, 3600 Series, ASR Series and CRS-1 and CRS-3
- Security appliances: ASA 5500, PIX 500 series, Cisco Security Manager, Email Security Appliance (ESA), Web Security Appliance (WSA), Content Security Management Appliance (SMA)
- Catalyst switches: 1900 Series, 2900 / 2950 / 2960 / 3500XL Series, 3550 / 3750 Series, 3000 Series, Catalyst 4500/4900, 5000/5500 Series, 6500 Series
- Teleworker/Remote Connectivity—Cisco LAN2LAN Personal Office for ISDN, VPN 3000 Concentrators
- Cisco Wireless LAN products—Access Points, PCI/PCMCIA/USB Wireless LAN Adaptors, Wireless LAN Controllers (WLC), Wireless LAN Solutions Engines (WLSE), Wireless Control System (WCS), Location Appliances, Long range antennas.
- Collaboration Systems—Cisco TelePresence, (Cisco Manufacturing Mobile Video Collaboration with Librestream, Cisco acquired Tandberg, the world leader in Telepresence systems)
- IP Telephony (VoIP) Servers and Appliances
- Cisco Unified IP Phones—Wireless IP Phone 7920, 7945, 7965, 7942, 8900 series, 9900 series, 6900 series
- Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS)
- Unified Computing: Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) virtual server platform: with VMWare virtualization system run servers on Cisco hardware
- Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE): Application Delivery Controller
- Cisco Cius: a new Android-based collaboration tablet (now discontinued)
- Set Top Boxes (High Definition PVRs)—Cable/IP
- Flip pocket camera (Discontinued in April 2011)
- Internetwork Operating System (IOS)
- CatOS—Catalyst Switch Operating System
- NX-OS—Nexus Operating System
- Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client
- Cisco Systems VPN Client
- Clean Access Agent, Cisco NAC Appliance
- Cisco Call Manager / Call Manager Express
- Cisco Unified Communications Manager
- Cisco Unified Operations Manager (CUOM)—is a NMS for voice. It features real-time monitoring of all system elements, and performs automatic discovery for the entire system and provides contextual diagnostics for troubleshooting.
- Cisco IP Communicator is a VoIP softphone software application. It can register with a Cisco Unified Communications Manager or Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express using either SIP or Cisco's proprietary Skinny Client Control Protocol.
- WebEx Collaboration Tools
- Cisco Active Network Abstraction
- Cisco Fabric Manager
- Data Center Management and Automation—Cisco Intelligent Automation
- Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler
- CiscoWorks Network Management software
- Cisco Eos
- Packet Tracer, didactic network simulator
- Cisco Network Magic Pro
- Cisco Quad
- Cisco Security Manager
- Cisco SDM
- PostOffice protocol (not to be confused with POP3, SMTP, or other mail delivery protocols). It is a Cisco proprietary protocol that runs on port UDP/4500. It provides a communications vehicle between the sensors and the Director platform.
VoIP servicesCisco became a major provider of Voice over IP to enterprises, and is now moving into the home user market through its acquisitions of Scientific Atlanta and Linksys. Scientific Atlanta provides VoIP equipment to cable service providers such as Time Warner, Cablevision, Rogers Communications, UPC, and others; Linksys has partnered with companies such as Skype, Microsoft and Yahoo! to integrate consumer VoIP services with wireless and cordless phones.
Hosted Collaboration SolutionCisco partners can now offer cloud-based services based on Cisco's virtualized Unified Computing System (UCS). A part of the Cisco Unified Services Delivery Solution that will include hosted versions of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM), Cisco Unified Contact Center, Cisco Unified Mobility, Cisco Unified Presence, Cisco Unity Connection (unified messaging), and Cisco Webex Meeting Center.
Network Emergency ResponseThe company maintains several Network Emergency Response Vehicles (NERV)s. The vehicles are maintained and deployed by Cisco employees during natural disasters and other public crises. The vehicles are self-contained and provide wired and wireless services including voice, and radio interoperability, voice over IP, network based video surveillance and secured high definition video conferencing for leaders and first responders in crisis areas with up to 3 Mbit/s of bandwidth (up and down) via a 1.8-meter satellite antenna.
NERVs are based at Cisco headquarters sites in San Jose, California and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina allowing strategic deployment in North America and are capable of being fully operational within 15 minutes of arrival.  High capacity deisel fuel tanks allow the largest vehicles to run for up to 72 hours continuously. The NERV has been deployed to incidents such as the October 2007 California wildfires; hurricanes Gustav, Ike, and Katrina; the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, tornado outbreaks in North Carolina and Alabama in 2011; and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The team maintains and deploys smaller more portable communication kits which are deployed to emergencies outside of North America. In 2010 the team deployed to assist in earthquake recover in Haiti and Christcurch, New Zealand. In 2011 they deployed to flooding in Brazil, Tsunami in Japan.
In 2011, Cisco received the Innovation Preparedness award from the American Red Cross, Silicon Valley Chapter for its development and use of these vehicles in disasters.
Cisco Career CertificationsCisco Systems also sponsors a line of IT Professional certifications for Cisco products. There are five levels of certification: Entry (CCENT), Associate (CCNA / CCDA), Professional (CCNP / CCDP), Expert (CCIE / CCDE), and recently Architect, as well as eight different paths, Routing & Switching, Design, Network Security, Service Provider, Service Provider Operations, Storage Networking, Voice, Datacenter and Wireless.
A number of specialist technician, sales and datacenter certifications are also available.
Cisco also provides training for these certifications via a portal called the Cisco Networking Academy. Qualifying schools can become members of the Cisco Networking Academy and then provide CCNA level or other level courses. Cisco Academy Instructors must be CCNA certified to be a CCAI certified instructor.
As a global provider of network solutions, Cisco often finds itself at the frontier of technical education. With over 10,000 partnerships in over 65 countries Cisco Academy program operates in many exotic locations. For example, in March 2013, Cisco announced its interest in Myanmar by investing in two Cisco Networking Academies in Yangon and Mandalay and a channel partner network.
Criticisms and controversy
A class action lawsuit filed on April 20, 2001 accused Cisco of making misleading statements that "were relied on by purchasers of Cisco stock" and of insider trading. While Cisco denied all allegations in the suit, on August 18, 2006, Cisco's liability insurers, its directors, and officers paid the plaintiffs US$91.75 million to settle the suit.
Intellectual property disputesOn December 11, 2008, the Free Software Foundation filed suit against Cisco regarding Cisco's failure to comply with the GPL and LGPL license models and make the applicable source code publicly available. On May 20, 2009, Cisco settled this lawsuit by complying with FSF licensing terms and making a monetary contribution to the FSF.
Censorship in ChinaCisco has been criticized for its involvement in censorship in the People's Republic of China. According to author Ethan Gutmann, Cisco and other telecommunications equipment providers supplied the Chinese government with surveillance and Internet infrastructure equipment that is used to block Internet websites and track Chinese online activities. Cisco says that it does not customize or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities to enable governments to block access to information and that it sells the same equipment in China as it sells worldwide.
Wired News had uncovered a leaked, confidential Cisco power point presentation that details the commercial opportunities of the Golden Shield Project of Internet control. In her article, journalist Sarah Stirland accuses Cisco of marketing its technology "specifically as a tool of repression."