Wednesday morning at the [Oracle OpenWorld 2011] conference started with another keynote session. This time, Safra Catz, CFO and President of Oracle, introduced John Chambers, CEO of Cisco.
John says Cisco is helping to "empower the customer through market transitions." This includes helping customers decide how to deploy new technology, choosing between integrated stacks and interoperable components, scaling the business with a flat IT budget, and how/when to decide on moving to the cloud.
(FTC Disclosure: IBM resells Cisco switches and directors and are considered a partner in this sense. If you are going to buy Cisco switches and directors, please consider buying them through IBM.)
The information economy is transitioning to a networked one. Access to information is not as important as access to expertise. Process and Procedures are not as important as Communities and Relationships. The old style Command-and-Control management is giving way to Collaboration. He showed a chart that showed the evolution from routed/bridged networks to packet/mobile and video. He also had a chart that showed the evolution from Mainframe/Mini-computers, to Client/Server and Web, to Virtualization in the Cloud. He also indicated that Google's acquisition of Motorola was indicative of the "Death of the PC".
High Tech companies must re-invent themselves to stay relevant. Here were Cisco's five "Foundational Priorities":
- Leadership in the Core. This refers to his core business of high-end Ethernet and Fibre Channel directors.
- Collaboration. This was the original promise of networking computers together, was to bring people together also. He feels that "Collaboration" will take off in the 2010's.
- Data Center/Virtualization/Cloud. Cisco is now in the business of selling computers. They are now #2 in North America for x86 server sales, and #3 globally. In this regard, they are a direct competitor to both IBM and Oracle at this conference. John wants to create "borderless" networks between Private and Public clouds. He claims that they have now 8,228 Ciscu UCS customers over the past 18 months. This was a slam at Oracle, who hasn't sold half that many new systems in the same time period.
- Video. John indicated that every product in the Cisco family is video-enabled, from the Cius tablet, to WebEx, to TelePresence, to all of his switches and directors. In theory, the "Flip" video cam that Cisco dropped in their latest round of layoffs would have also been counted in that category. John indicates that he envisions video will take over as the predominant communication mechanism. Back in 2006, at Oracle OpenWorld, John showed a chart that indicated that people will transition from passive TV-watchers to active video producers. Here we are five years later, and while 24 hours' worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every second, most people are still TV-watchers.
- Architectures for Business Transformation. He elaborated on this to refer to issues like reliability, security, and products that are designed to work together. Business and Government leaders are focused on their business, not technology.
He gave a demo of Cisco UCS. This is a 4U collection of server blades, with up to 384GB of DRAM using 8GB DIMMs, or 192GB using much-cheaper 4GB DIMMs. There are 2 switches with 8 ports each 10GbE, for a total of 160 Gbps, that can carry both Ethernet and FCoE traffic. The UCS System Manager is similar to IBM's Unified Resource Manager in that it manages the entire box. A "service profile" has 40 to 50 BIOS settings that can be applied to give each x86 blade a specific personality. You can re-provision these by changing their service profile as needed.
The next demo was really cool. They took video that involved people talking, and had it "machine transcribed" so that you can read the words being said in the video. Type in a word like "tolerances" in the search engine, and the video advances exactly to the spot where that word is uttered.
The next demo after that involved a special camera for monitoring High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in traffic. In an example used in London, UK, the camera can see inside the car and confirm there are enough people to justify HOV usage, and if not, scan the license plate and charge the owner of the vehicle a fine. (In a sense, "Big Data" analytics combined with Cisco's vision of ubiquitous video equals [Big Brother])
In another slam against Oracle, John actually backed up his claims with published benchmarks. He wrapped up his talk with: "If I have done my job well, then you will all leave this room a bit uncomfortable." Not surprisingly, John didn't mention either the vBlock relationship with EMC, or the FlexPod relationship with NetApp.