Cisco, Zynga and Avaya executives set forth themes for Interop 2012.
The “IT market is on fire,” exclaimed Interop general manager Jennifer Jessup shortly after walking out on stage here at the Mandalay Bay convention center in Las Vegas earlier this week.
Jessup kicked off the 2012 Las Vegas edition of the long-running networking and interoperability trade show and conference.
“On fire” may seem like to be a bit of stretch to cash-strapped IT departments. The sense at Interop this year is that things are looking up for the IT industry thanks to the maturation of newer (and evolution of older) technologies and solutions—ranging from cloud computing to virtualization to unified communications, convergence and beyond.
Jessup’s hope, as expressed in her brief introduction to the Interop’s first round of keynotes, was that attendees would return home “with an action plan” for their IT organizations.
The keynoters—Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, Zynga CTO of Infrastructure Allan Leinwand and Avaya senior VP and general manager of networking Marc Randall—certainly provided folks with much food for thought just before the official opening of the exhibition component of Interop. And, as we discovered this week, the themes they covered in their speeches very much encapsulated the topics of discussion (as well as products and services) that coursed through Interop 2012 Las Vegas.
Cisco Vision for the Future: A Human Network
Cisco’s Warrior delivered the first keynote of the morning and shared Cisco’s ideas about the future, which is all
about collaboration and delivery of quality user experience that lies seamlessly across different devices and platforms.
She began by noting that most of human innovation occurred over the last couple of hundred years, or a mere 0.2 percent of human existence, with the pace and the magnitude of change accelerating exponentially over the 25 years or so. Warrior asserted these most recent innovations resulted directly from networking, music to the ears of her audience of Interop attendees.
To Warrior, we are in the third phase of networking innovation, a period she labeled as the Networked Economy. This was preceded by Connectivity and Digital Revolution stages, and will be followed, eventually, by what Cisco refers to as the human Network. The idea behind the latter, which may sound familiar from Cisco’s recent television ads, is that technology will become much more immersive and contextual or—in other words—about the experience of the end user.
Relatedly, over the next three to five years, the convergence of mobile and video will accelerate. This new reality will place great pressure on infrastructure. Meanwhile, Warrior noted that 70 percent of enterprises will be on the cloud, in one form or another, by the end of this year, while 56 percent of organizations will have turned to desktop virtualization.
This technological shift to the cloud, mobility and video—along with vagaries of an increasingly social, bring your own device (BYOD), open source and big data reality—pose huge challenges to IT. For Warrior, the trend toward mobility is about more than smartphones. It also means application mobility to allow users to carry their apps with them anytime and use them anywhere.
Businesses will have to consider new delivery models to enable seamless collaboration between end-users and access to content. All while dealing with risk management and compliance issues.
These megatrends—mobility, the cloud, and immersive collaborative videos—as Warrior defined them, are placing pressure on security. They also place IT productivity front and center. But how is IT to deal with all of these emerging technologies when IT budgets remain flat, and will be so for the foreseeable future?
Well, all these trends place the network front and center. Cisco’s vision of the future of networking is driven by a few key programmable and manageable parameters: Visibility (telemetry, multi-layer topologies), Awareness (big data mining, real time analytics, etc.), Security (seamless network policies, automated threat prevention). Now we have to put security in context: who, where, what and how are users going to access that information.
This relates to what’s become known as software defined networking (SDN), which Warrior said people should think about as broadly and holistically as possible. You need to extract value from multiple SDN layers. To do so requires a programmable environment that offers APIs at all levels. OpenFlow, which Cisco has invested in, is an example of this.
This brings up the cloud. A chief requirement driving the movement to the cloud is cost efficiency, with its total cost of ownership 50 percent lower than traditional models. The second fact is that you can have multiple workloads and capacity for VMs. Cisco’s strategy is to have a very open ecosystem strategy that enables customers to build private, public and hybrid clouds securely.
In June Cisco will announce Cloud Connect, which will allow secure access across data center and cloud environments.
James Alan Miller is Managing Editor of Tom's IT Pro. He is a veteran technology journalist with over seventeen years of experience creating and developing magazine and online content. Founding editor of numerous business and enterprise computing sites at the internet.com network, James headed up the After Hours section at PC Magazine, as well as hardware and software sections of various Windows publications.
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