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Businesses Networking The Almighty Buck Wireless Networking Technology

Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Linksys 180

New submitter drdread66 writes "Cisco seems to be giving up on another technology acquisition. Hot on the heels of a full writedown for shuttering Flip Video, Cisco is now looking at another potentially huge loss from unloading Linksys."
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Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Linksys

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @07:56AM (#42312821)

    The Cicsco purchase of Linksys was closely mirrored by the EMC purchase of Iomega. Will EMC look to unload Iomega now? Anyone wanting to buy one would likely be interested in the other.

  • It's about time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:01AM (#42312853)

    Linksys produced some decent gear prior to the acquisition. After Cisco bought the company, the default answer for any sort of serious trouble with SOHO gear became "oh, I see you're referring to our Linksys brand; if you're serious about small office or branch office communications, you need to upgrade to our HOLY SHIT THAT'S EXPENSIVE Cisco brand gear instead." This applied nearly universally to cases where a prior generation piece of Linksys gear had performed quite well in the same role. Here's to hoping the brand can get back to its roots instead of serving as a loss leader for more expensive gear.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:03AM (#42312863) Homepage

    No, that was never such a problem. Who cares about the badging? The problem was that Cisco tried to make Linksys products - which competed on price value first and foremost - into Cisco products - which compete on threat of failure and job security. Huge difference!

    The problems were:

    * they abandoned the home market through marketing and getting rid of all the products which appealed to home users
    * they increased the prices of the Linksys products - because, well, they're badged Cisco SMB now.
    * they didn't improve the Linksys products, they made most of them worse (the latest SMB routers are completely useless; I'd rather have a PIX501)

    It's not like Cisco has all that great a reputation in the SMB market, either. Fine for enterprise, but people who know SMB know that Cisco is stupid for SMB on so many different levels, the least of which is cost/benefit being so incredibly high vs. pretty much everything else.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:19AM (#42312911) Homepage Journal

    This is just crap. The first thing that happened when Linksys was bought was that the quality went down the toilet. It happened *immediately* and too quickly for it to be a coinicidence. If there was and "dilution" problem it was because Cisco wanted it to be there.

    Linksys put out one of the first wi-fi routers that could be modified and had real power. The first outdoor wi-fi system I ever put out as a newbie was using WRS hardware. Linksys was a real competitor to Cisco as they were putting out very affordable hardware that wasn't garbage. Small business was using Linksys as an alternative to bloated and hard to use Cisco products.

    I don't recommend any Linksys products these days from basic 5 pt switches on up because Cisco made sure they were crap for their own reasons.

  • Re:It's about time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlueBlade ( 123303 ) <mafortier&gmail,com> on Monday December 17, 2012 @08:21AM (#42312917)

    On the other hand, there's a reason Cisco gear is expensive: it's enterprise class. A few months ago I went to a client's site to help expend a microwave network. Prior to doing the upgrade, I asked what gear was running at the remote location. "It's all Cisco switches and routers!", I was told. So we start working, installing new fiber lines and antennas. At one point, I needed to remotely shut down a switchport in one of remote locations to prevent a spanning loop. I try ssh, then telnet, no connection. I try http, and what do I see, it's one of those "Linksys by Cisco" SMB switch. That particular model didn't allow me to shut down a single port, nor did it allow me to re-allocate the limited PoE wattage to new equipment. Also, as far as I could see, no real diagnostic info on the ports, other than a packet counter and up/down status.

    We lost almost 2 hours to send someone to drive to the location and back, just to unplug a network cable. Now, I'm not going to say that Linksys switches aren't perfectly fine in some small business environments, but once you start having a big network they're a headache. Rebranding consumer-grade equipment with the Cisco trademark was one of the stupidest decision I've seen a large company make. Every networking professional I've talked to thought it was a terrible idea; it's almost impossible to see how management could ever even consider the idea, let alone go ahead with it.

    It's decisions like this one that make me think that Cisco's hegemony in the network is coming to an end. You can't have management that clueless and thrive. Also, they're still acting like they're the only game in town, with prices that are borderline ridiculous and byzantine licensing rules (ASA licensing, I'm looking at you!). It's a good thing Juniper has grown up and is now making some pretty awesome routers for very good prices. On the switch level, Cisco is still ahead of the pack, but other vendors like HP are stepping up.

    I think it's sad, because Cisco hardware tends to be awesome. Hopefully Cisco can go back to having more engineers making some business decisions, because the current leadership certainly doesn't understand the moving market.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:00AM (#42313111)

    I work for a large enterprise. We "should" be buying more expensive gear. However...

    We had a series of small conference rooms that often hosted meetings requiring WIFI access to one of our "play" networks that's isolated from most everything else. We bought a couple of the SMB Linksys/Cisco wireless access points. I believe they were about $500 each. We immediately had problems with them dropping connections, even with small numbers of users. A call to Cisco resulted in "'re at megacorp? Buy our enterprise gear. With your discount, surely you can "upgrade" for only a few thousand". And that was that. There was little effort put into solving the problem other than trying to shoo us into buying more expensive equipment. We ultimately punted them all, returned them for a full refund, and are now using access points from Asus that cost us less than 1/2 of the price and work flawlessly.

    Lesson learned.

  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:00AM (#42313113) Homepage

    They totally screwed up this acquisition from beginning to end. Back when they bought Linksys, it was a highly competitive brand in its market segmenet. Now it's a joke, with poor quality hardware by the standard of other home networking gear, overpriced, and features total nonsense like cloud-based router configuration that nobody sane asked for. Cisco's answer to all this is "oh, you just need to spend 5x more on Cisco gear instead."

    Why would I do that in my house, Cisco? I'll just buy from the competition instead and wind up with a negative view of your entire brand. I don't know if Linksys has any talent left in the company after how badly Cisco has screwed it up, but I hope they can recover once they're put under competent management. I still have fond memories of the old WRT54, which worked so well for so many years.

  • by karnal ( 22275 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:20AM (#42313201)

    Which sucked, in my opinion. Zip drives and Jaz drives (and their media) were an excellent idea, but poorly executed. My first zip drive ate a few disks before I figured out "if I use this drive, it will destroy everything." Took it apart before returning it (hey, we all want to know the "WHY") and one of the drive heads was physically disconnected from the arm.

    Had a Jaz drive later in life (donated). And you're right, the disks themselves appeared to randomly either not work or lose data. Almost seemed as if the tracking mechanism in the drive couldn't follow the pre-formatted platters properly at times. And any drive that you can't lay down the track (factory formatted) sucks.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skater ( 41976 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:27AM (#42313585) Homepage Journal

    May depend on the model, I had a WRT54G that I could ignore for months at a time, and typically it only needed attention because the ADSL line it was connected to got flaky.

    Heck, I'm still using a WRT54G (1.1 I think) for my home network that I bought in 2001ish. A couple years back, I updated the firmware to support WPA encryption and it still works perfectly - I never have any problems with it, I don't need to reboot it, it just works. (I should note I use it only as a wireless access point, not a router.) I'm watching prices on a dual-band N with gigabit ethernet router to replace it, but so far I haven't gotten around to it, in part because I hear so much that newer routers aren't as reliable.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:16AM (#42314027) Homepage

    From reading people's stories, it sounds like Cisco succeeded in every way. Linksys' made high-end consumer grade networking equipment. Cisco made enterprise grade networking equipment. Linksys posed two risks to Cisco: One is that Linksys could move into Cisco's territory if they started making enterprise grade equipment. The other is that enterprise users might find that Linksys equipment would be good enough in some cases, eating into Cisco's sales.

    Rather than risk that, Cisco bought Linksys and ran them into the ground to increase the size of the gap between their enterprise grade equipment and the nearest competitor. If they succeed in selling the company off, they not only succeeded but they recoup a part of their investment. And if Linksys' brand is soiled then even a good buyer with good management will be stuck.

    It sounds like it was a good plan.

  • by snsh ( 968808 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @11:39AM (#42314241)

    Iomega's blunder with Zip was that for too long Iomega only sold them with external parallel-port and SCSI interfaces. By the time they started offering internal drives, PC's were shipping with 4GB hard drives and 720MB CD burners so 100MB and 250MB zip media was already obselete. I don't understand what took Iomega so long to make an internal version. Internal drives would probably be cheaper to manufacture and support, and Iomega probably could have made even more money with internal drives sold through system builders. Companies would have had them preinstalled in every computer, instead of having one or two drives shared around the office.

    I remember spending a lot of time messing around with Centronics extension cables and EPP/ECP settings on Windows 3.1 and 95 boxes to manage external Zip drives. What a waste.

  • Re:Good move. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:51PM (#42315453)

    Just a note, for the reference of anybody reading this: The WRT-54/GL is very similar to the wildly popular classic WRT-54G that put the 'WRT' in 'OpenWRT' and 'DD-WRT'. However, the WRT-54G(non L) has gone through something like 5 revisions, and the later ones are more or less entirely different animals in the same box. Less flash, less RAM, vxworks(yeah, like hell it works) based firmware, poor compatibility with anything but the most stripped down 3rd-party firmwares. In fact, the 'L' model was actually a re-release of the older revision designed to cater to the enthusiasts who had been alienated by the later revisions of the 54G.

    You need to know your OSes really.

    VxWorks is a great OS - as long as what you're doing requires hard real time tasks. It comes with a relatively flimsy network stack otherwise (and there are MANY third party companies that do nothing but sell you a TCP/IP stack for such RTOSes).

    The reason the "L" and original WRT-54G were great? Because they ran an OS with a decent network stack - Linux. This was basically a first at the time (and yes, Linksys shipped them without supplying source code initially).

    And yes, the added hardware cost for Linux (flash/RAM) probably cost more than a VxWorks license.

    These days, a lot of routers tend to run Linux, purely because the drivers for the new hardware are practically Linux first and the sweet spot for memory has tended to allow even the larger 2.6 kernels to fit just fine (a lot of high end ones have a whopping 128MB of RAM and 128MB of flash).

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982