Peering into 2014, Cisco sees big displays, SDN

Cars that automatically pay for parking spots, context-aware collaboration and new data centre networks are some of the technologies forecasters at Cisco Systems Inc. see in 2014 and beyond.

The predictions were among those made Wednesday at an end of the year Webcast that included solutions the networking, collaboration and data centre equipment maker is working on.

Here’s a few of them. No promises of when they’ll be commercially available:

–Think the telepresence monitor in your organization is big enough? Susie Wee, vice-president and CTO of networked experiences says Cisco is looking at floor-to-ceiling monitors able to display a head-to-toe image of the person you’re talking to.

It’s part of a new wave of high definition devices on the way that could create what Cisco calls change “augmented collaboration.”

Wee said larger displays and more immersive experiences are becoming possible. “Imagine that we have 4K video,” she said, with monitors having horizontal resolution of 4,000 pixels.  An innovation Cisco is working on combines huge monitors with collaborative whiteboarding.

“What’s missing is being able to draw together – there is technology to do it (today) but it’s just  not seamlessly there where you could pick up a pen and draw together.”

So, unlike a telepresence setup, where participants sit in front of a desk, they can walk around and pretend they’re in the same room “working shoulder to shoulder.”

It could also be a cloud-connected session so participants could use mobile devices, she added.

“We have a lot of excitement ahead,” Wee said.

She also said coming from Cisco is an indoor location-based Wi-Fi technology allowing retailers to send product offers to passers-by who are toting wireless devices.

Hewlett-Packard discussed something similar at a Toronto conference.

–The expanding number of Internet-connected devices will be leveraged increasingly by organizations, said Maciej Kranz, vice-president of Cisco’s corporate technology group. In the next 12 months there will be “amazing” progress in the so-called Internet of things, which Cisco has been evangelizing.

For example, he said, Cicso [Nasdaq: CSCO] foresees that within the next four years every new vehicle made will have Internet connectivity allowing car-to-car or vehicle-to-traffic infrastructure communications.

That will enable a driver to ask the vehicle to find the nearest movie theatre, find the nearest parking spot and to pay for parking. Or, he added, for a parent to program the car so that it must stop at a red light when a teenager has the use of the vehicle.

An energy company today with an oil rig might send 5 GB of data daily back to head office, most not needed. But Kranz said, that flow might be limited if sensors could be given business rules (only send data if the drill bit temperature exceeds X). Cisco is also looking at whether it could do real time indexing of data being captured.

— Dave Ward, CTO of engineering said there will be major network transitions thanks to two technologies: Software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). SDN will go beyond hype and see the release of products allowing the central programming of network devices, servers and storage, he added. In addition NFV, the virtualization of a network, will also expand.

Cloud computing will also be critical for this network transition, he continued because they need certain security and analytic capabilities.  That will lead to the rise of network infrastructure as a service to deliver those capabilities.

Meanwhile there will be a “massive transition” away from traditional wireline PSDN technologies to cloud-based telephony and collaboration services.

— Lauren Cooney, senior director of planning and strategy said emerging platforms with open APIs will mean developers and network engineers will have to learn new programming skills to deal with open source protocols like Puppet and Chef.

“Killer apps” wills be around security, analytics and things related to mobility, she added.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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