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ESDN: Cisco CEO Says App Economy Is 'The Future'

Dan Jones

NEW YORK -- Ethernet & SDN Expo -- Cisco CEO John Chambers says the "next wave" in IT is coming very soon, promising massive opportunities for the networking companies that can ride it but delivering a "brutal" wipeout for those that can't.

The ebullient CEO delivered the opening keynote at New York's ever-glamorous Javits Center Wednesday morning. He gave a little glimpse of what will drive Cisco's approach to networking and acquisitions in the coming year to the IT-focused crowd at the co-located Interop and ESDN show.

"Application infrastructure is going to be the future," Chambers told the packed auditorium. Cisco is expecting 77 billion app downloads in 2014, driven by a massive growth in devices from smartphones to sensors.

Chambers Hits the Floor
Cisco CEO John Chambers did most of his Tuesday Interop & ESDN keynote in amongst the crowd.
Cisco CEO John Chambers did most of his Tuesday Interop & ESDN keynote in amongst the crowd.

Which means that mobility will be a big part of the puzzle but not the whole jigsaw, according to Chambers. "Four years ago, mobility was our Achilles heel -- not any more," he noted. He claimed that Cisco is tops in small cells, service provider WiFi, enterprise wireless LAN, and other sectors right now.

Building the infrastructure to support the "app economy" will mean more than just mobility, however, according to the CEO. It will involve bringing software-defined networking and virtualization functions out of the datacenter and into the everyday business of IT. It will involve location-aware networks that can pull a user's applications from the cloud and deliver them to whatever device they are using.

Cisco posited its demonstration at the keynote as an example of how these concepts will work in the real world: The company showed off a system where a "doctor" moved through a "hospital" with a location-sensitive network that provisioned different services for different devices in different areas of the faux-clinic.

"This is not a three-to-five year proof of concept," the CEO said towards the end of his presentation. He said that these ideas are informing what Cisco is building now and over the next couple of years. Certainly the company has been working on wireless location-aware infrastructure through this year and last. (See Cisco Takes Location Indoors.)

These ideas are also coloring what Cisco has been buying recently, Chambers explained. He said that Cisco will soon start deploying security technology it got when it bought Sourcefire for $2.7 billion in July. (See Cisco Banks on Sourcefire & Snort for Security.)

The expansive nature of this shift in IT and networking will be good for companies that can get their arms around the changes. "Make no mistake, we plan to be a disruptor," Chambers said, adding that Cisco won't enter a new market it doesn't think it can take at least a 40 percent share in.

Chambers, however, expects that many tech companies will be cut down as they build to try and get to the top of the application infrastructure market.

"Make no mistake," he told the crowd. "There's going to be a brutal consolidation in this industry. Brutal."

Want to talk about just how brutal? Or which networking CEO would win in a Mad Max Thunderdome-style SDN cage match? Well, go here for Light Reading's ESDN live chat and gab it up.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
10/4/2013 | 11:25:01 AM
Re: App infrastructure
I'd said that is actively happening now, yes.
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
10/3/2013 | 8:41:57 PM
Re: App infrastructure
But is this going to be another space where telcos get marginalised? Cisco wants to be a manager of parts of that app infrastructure (like indoor location). Which parts will operators get to manage?

User Rank: Blogger
10/2/2013 | 4:09:40 PM
App infrastructure
Chambers' comments on application infrastructure dovetail with what some service providers are thinking. It will need to be an open and flexible infrastructure because the sevice providers are adjusting to the idea that more of the control over the delivery of apps will be turned over to customers themselves.
User Rank: Blogger
10/2/2013 | 1:20:02 PM
17 Trillion Dollah?
That's how much Chambers claims this sea change in the industry will be worth.
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