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Cisco Live lives it up at 25

Jim Duffy | May 26, 2014
Conference mixed milestone revelry with stark realities of mission ahead.

SAN FRANCISCO -- It started with a sobering declaration and ended with what for some was an inebriating party.

So went the week of Cisco Live, the 25th anniversary of the annual conference of Cisco customers from around the world. And Cisco did the milestone birthday justice, with keynotes and conference sessions hammering home the determined message that Cisco and its customers will lead the march to "Fast IT," and a stadium appreciation party rocked by Lenny Kravitz and Imagine Dragons.

Before the fun though, a chilling forecast from CEO John Chambers: Some of the leading IT companies in existence now won't be in five years. Chambers predicted a "brutal" industry consolidation that will leave only two to three of the top five IT titans standing.

"I've seen this movie before," Chambers said. "They will have missed market transitions."  

And that was during the opening keynote! Two market transitions Cisco's intent on not missing are the Internet of Things and Fast IT, its term for InterCloud networking based on its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology.

InterCloud is how Cisco describes moving workloads between different cloud providers in private, managed, hosted, hybrid and public cloud deployments, with common policy and mobility across all deployment models. The company's ACI technology, founded on its Nexus 9000 switching hardware and Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), is how Cisco proposes building an InterCloud.

ACI is also Cisco's entry into the software-defined networking market, which has been viewed as a Cisco disruptor. Chambers left no doubt about Cisco's intentions with SDN.

"We will be the best implementer of SDN in the world," he said in his same keynote address. "It will not only benefit Cisco. We will lead this industry."

On day two, company President Rob Lloyd's keynote went deep into the components of Fast IT and InterCloud. It was clear the sales and development chief was leading this particular charge into hybrid clouds, where Cisco can leverage its installed base of private clouds needing connectivity to any provider.

Lloyd announced that longtime partner Dimension Data and its parent, NTT, joined Cisco's InterCloud ecosystem. And later that day in a roundtable session with reporters, Lloyd invited all to join.

"If they embrace (InterCloud) constructs, we will expand the ecosystem and it could include any of the companies we think of today as major cloud providers," Lloyd said when actually responding to a question on whether buying an established cloud provider, like the rumored target Rackspace, would benefit InterCloud.

Chambers was a bit more direct on the specific prospect: "That's a market that is very, very price sensitive; that's taking on the big giants in Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. So those are the types of scenarios we look at as a partnership opportunity."

 

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