Cisco was founded in 1984 by a group of computer scientists from Stanford University. So it emerged when the Internet was just starting to form. In 1986, the company hired its first employee and got involved in the beginnings of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF is an international community of network designers, operators, vendors and researchers concerned with the evolution and operation of Internet architecture. That year, the company shipped its first routing innovation, the AGS (Advanced Gateway Server) to the University of Utah. Then, a year later, the company developed the Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (IGRP), the first protocol to permit the building of large internets. In 1991, it went public with a market capitalization of $224 million and was listed as “CSCO” on the NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations). In 1992, the company introduced many of the router product families that would make it famous. Cisco manufacturers routers, devices that connect two or more computer networks and transfer data packets between them. Routers are the basic engine of the Internet. So, Cisco was a driving force behind the growth of the Internet.
The company still owns 60% of the router business, 70% of the switching business and 28% of the IP PBX business (per a Cisco presentation). In 2009, it had a market capitalization of $129 billion whereas its eleven top competitors only had a market capitalization of $23 billion combined.
Cisco has evolved from enterprise and service provider solutions to addressing customer needs in many other segments including small business, consumer and commercial. The network has become the platform for the company to provide one seamless, transparent customer experience.
Cisco offers a full range of routers for enterprises, service providers and branch offices. Cisco also markets a full-range of gateways, many of which are used in FoIP installations around the world. Cisco offers a mammoth line of VoIP systems that have enabled the company to grab the market share lead in an industry once dominated by large proprietary PBX vendors. The company also offers unified communications and is a leader in that category as well. Cisco Unity lets users access email, voice, and fax messages from a single inbox anytime, anywhere. Being standards-based, Cisco Unity integrates with business’s existing network, communication applications, and clients. Businesses can also virtualize Unity as it is supported on a VMware platform as well as Linux. The company also sells a product called Unity Express, which is unified communications designed for small businesses and supports up to 6 ports and 65 mailboxes. Cisco even sells a fax servers, which it OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) from Open Text. The Cisco Fax Server is based on the RightFax Enterprise Suite from Open Text and it can be coupled with enterprise messaging applications such as Cisco Unity and Cisco Unity Connection software to create a powerful unified messaging solution. Cisco also promotes Sagemcom’s XMediusFAX AXP, which is the first and only fax solution to run inside a Cisco ISR and operate natively on the Cisco Application eXtention Platform (AXP).