Cisco’s Chambers takes kitchen sink approach to product strategy

SAN DIEGO – John Chambers says he is serious about changing all aspects of customer’s lives.

During his keynote address at the 8th annual Cisco Partner Summit, held here, the president and CEO of Cisco Systems said the networking giant has to change because the market is on the edge of huge opportunity in the convergence of data, voice, video and mobility.

“Isn’t change great? Change makes the CEO uncomfortable, but if you want to lead you have to evolve,” Chambers said.

Chambers’s new technology bet will be to position the network as the place for all applications and services.

Those customers today who are dealing with growth have placed a priority on collaborating more effectively internally and externally. This business problem is global in scope and scales from the small company to the large enterprise multi-nationals, Chambers said.

Video, Chambers believes, will be at the centre of this strategy.

Three current worldwide trends are solidifying this trend, he said. They include globalization, mobilization depending on the device the end user wants to use, and virtualization, where users do not know where the processors are or where the data is stored, and the process is basically transparent across the network.

Dave Martin, senior channel analyst for IDC Canada, said the network is like plumbing and has been ignored for a long time. Martin believes for businesses to really execute on these new applications they will need a reliable infrastructure in place.

“It transcends every market,” Martin said. “Businesses are driving to integrated and streamlined business solutions and it is not possible without networks. The network is the lynch pin.

“You have a kitchen sink, but you rarely think about what is behind there. The sink is great, but without the plumbing nothing works and the network is the plumbing. And businesses so desperately want to connect the business solutions,” Martin added.

This shift in direction is one of the reasons why Cisco has released Unified Communications products and will, in a year’s time, debut Telepresence, a Halo-like communications conferencing system.

Charlie Giancarlo, senior vice-president and chief development officer for Cisco, said everything from PCs and cell phones to security cameras will be connected to the Internet over IP.

“If you have a movie service at home you will have it on the road and it will be on your mobile device or on your cell phone. You will not know how that content got to your phone,” Giancarlo said.

This concept is one of the reasons why Cisco acquired Scientific Atlanta, a maker of consumer video and data services products, for US$6.9 billion. In Canada, Scientific Atlanta produces Rogers Digital Cable set-top boxes.

In terms of the market opportunity, Giancarlo said currently half the world’s networks are not connected to IP. “But it will be connected via IP tomorrow,” he said.

Giancarlo said future networking directions will be in two areas: people to machine and machine to machine with no human involvement.

“It is time to build networks for all these different situations: people to people and machine to machine. Partners will be building these networks, which will be more pervasive than what we were doing in the late nineties,” Giancarlo said.

Cisco also announced at its Partner Summit the acquisition of Waterbury, Conn.-based Sypixx, an analogue to digital video conversion developer for the video surveillance market.

Currently, Sypixx is only in gaming/casino and retail markets, moving VHS video tape onto data packets that can be moved and shared with anyone on a network.

According to Alex Thurber, director, data centre security, optical, storage for worldwide channels for Cisco, this deal places Cisco in the physical security market, a market the company has never been in before.

He added that it also furthers Cisco’s security offering.

“We think physical security is the next step in convergence. We move IP around better than anyone else and what we are doing is converging different types of streams onto Ethernet. Voice, telephony, storage and video now with video conferences, but we are also furthering this with the Scientific Atlanta (acquisition) and today we are now in video surveillance,” Thurber said.

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