NEW YORK –Application-based IT infrastructures will be the basis of the next wave of innovation in the industry, says Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers.

In his typical peppy delivery, Chambers strode through an audience at the Interop conference here Wednesday to offer a half-hour mixture of predictions, slight hints of upcoming products and a bit of promotion for his company.

On products, Chambers said that “probably next week” the company will say how it will integrate into its product the intrusion protection and malware detection capabilities it gained from the US$2.7 billion purchase this summer of Sourcefire Inc.

Next month Cisco will talk about its plans for a company called Insieme, quietly created last year by former Cisco engineers a so-called spin-in – that its, it will be taken over by the company.

According to a report last year by Networkworld U.S., Insieme is working on a next generation data centre switch.

All Chambers would say after uttering the word Insieme was that “application infrastructures will be the future.”

But throughout his comments Chambers tried to make it clear that while software will be important in the infrastructures of the future, hardware run by custom silicon will also be vital – and he cited last month’s announcement of the NCS family of routers that use its nPower X1 network processors.

Cisco will have software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities in many of its products, he said, referring to the technology that uses software-based controllers to automate network functions. “But,” he added, “software by itself will not get the job done — as we all know, it will be a combination of compute, storage, applications and infrastructure at every level, and that’s what you’re going to see us lead with as a company over the next year.”

With billions more Internet-enabled devices connecting to networks in the coming years, infrastructures have to be controlled by applications so they can react quickly, he said.

To show the potential Cisco announced a pilot collaboration with Facebook where subscribers’ credentials could be used in conjunction with Cisco[Nasdaq: CSCO] software to authenticate a person on a network. Then the user would be directed to the institution’s Facebook page to get information and options. Meanwhile, Cisco software could provision devices in a building – for example, in a hospital a Facebook subscriber could login to the network using a smartphone over WiFi, be automatically checked in and have the TV in a room configured to a favourite channel. When a doctor walks into the patient’s room, the wireless network senses the physician’s phone and changes the TV to a medical read-out.

On the IT side, Cisco’s CMX software could configure the network’s quality of service by drag and dropping groups of medical staff, who are categorized by roles, into priority and non-priority segments.

While some might see corporate infrastructure disappearing in a world of cloud-computing, Chambers sees IT still playing a major role in organizations.

“The role of IT will in my opinion not be delegated to the business units. It will be done in combination with the business units and the IT community solving the CEO’s top priorities and goals.”

“I think our industry is about to hit the next wave in terms of relevance,  of changing the world, of changing health care, education, business process, et cetra.”

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