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Cisco Tries to Break Out of the Data Center Role

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — 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, video
conferencing 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 I.B.M., Oracle and most pointedly,
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