Forget the switches and routers that built Cisco Systems into a giant, albeit somewhat boring, company at the core of the Internet.
These days, the company is peddling e-mail software, videoconferencing systems, cable-TV boxes — even furniture — as it tries to break out of the data center and get its products in front of ordinary office workers.
"Cisco is kind of like the Madonna of networking," said Mark Sue, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. "It is continuously trying to reinvent itself."
The effort directly challenges a main area of growth for some of Cisco's big customers, including IBM, Oracle and most pointedly, Microsoft.