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Chambers Touts 'Network of Networks'

Urges users to look to the future 'quad play' applications and accompanying security

LAS VEGAS -- Users and vendors should start readying their systems for a "network of networks," underpinned by robust security and virtualized storage, according to John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems.

In his keynote speech at Interop today, Chambers said the new "quad play" network will offer enterprises unparalleled levels of data sharing. "It isn’t just data, voice, video and mobility. It's about quad play everything -- in your home, in Starbucks, branch offices, in your central offices, and across the board.

"You will see a different experience about how you interface with your customers and your suppliers," he said. "It will be a more personalized approach."

The flamboyant exec as usual wandered the audience throughout his speech, warning users to starting thinking about the impact of the new network. "You have to make your decisions not one year ahead of changes occurring in the market, but three to five years ahead," he explained. "By the time it's obvious, it's too late."

According to Chambers, "complete virtualization of storage, applications, and processors" will be key to this effort, making it possible for users to share applications between servers, PCs, and PDAs much more quickly than is currently possible.

Chambers also reiterated his security message from last year's show. (See Chambers: Virtualization Is Here.) "It goes without saying that security in this environment cannot be based on human intervention," he said, in a clear nod to Cisco's Network Admission Control strategy. (See Cisco Announces NAC for Mid-Market, Cisco Expands NAC Framework, and Cisco Shores Up Security.) "If a virus or a trojan horse can spread through your entire network in seconds, then human intervention is not an option."

Chambers rolled out his usual sidekick Jim Grubb, Cisco's chief demonstration officer, to help illustrate his points. Grubb used a mockup of a truck and an airplane to explain how firms in the transport sector could share applications and data.

Both vehicles were "driven" by a man who described himself as "Billy Ray" and possessed a southern drawl more pronounced even than the Cisco supremo's. "I can identify with him," explained Chambers, prompting laughter from the audience.

Of course, there is plenty of method in Chambers' madness. Cisco recently unveiled its Unified Communications system, a new suite of voice, data, and video products and applications designed to streamline firms' communications efforts. (See Cisco Unifies Communication.) Unified Communications in turn is based on the vendor's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA), a strategy that ties together enterprise IT functions, using the network as a common element. It was announced in December 2005. (See Cisco Adds App Services.)

The broader SONA picture, however, reveals Cisco's desire to dive deeper into the lucrative market for applications management, a strategy that could potentially place the vendor at loggerheads with its existing application partners, including IBM and Microsoft. (See Cisco Everywhere: Meet SONA.)

Chambers did not touch on this issue during his speech this morning.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

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