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Interview of Everything: Cisco CEO Chambers on white boxes, SDN, leadership and the cloud

John Gallant | May 6, 2015
Outgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers says Internet of Everything starting to live up to its promise.

I want to just get an update from you on some key market initiatives. Talk about the Intercloud effort. Where do you stand with that and how is it starting to pay off for enterprises?

Nobody questions us anymore about our cloud strategy or the uniqueness of it. What people see is a simple concept, i.e. to do in clouds what we did in networks. Networks were really clouds to begin with. We were drawing clouds 20 years ago.

Before it was cool.

All of a sudden you had AppleTalk and TechNet and SNA, etc. and we said these are proprietary networks, i.e. proprietary clouds, and it's going to come together underneath a single IP infrastructure where it will be completely transparent what networks you run over. You will see the same thing if we do our job right with Intercloud. It literally will be the vehicle so that you won't have a Google cloud that's separate from the VMware cloud that's separate from a Facebook capability that's separate from Microsoft that's separate from a Verizon or a Deutsch Telekom or a Telstra cloud. What we're building is the ability to share that very smoothly with common policy, common application-centric infrastructure capability, common security and workload balancing. That's really powerful.

Then you can say what do we want to accomplish as a company and where do you run your workloads for whatever combination of reasons. That doesn't mean the IT department goes away. Actually it's the reverse. They've got to now be more effective than ever and they can't lock themselves into solutions that lose control over what I think will be the winner and loser philosophy about how quickly you digitize your company.

Talk about the software-defined networking market. If I understand it correctly from what I've read from both companies, you're about neck-in-neck with VMware in terms of announced customer installations of SDN deployments.

I don't buy that, however.

Where does it stand?

It's very simple. To me, you don't have a separate network for a software-defined network and a separate network for your physical network. We learned that with ATM and Ethernet and others. Too expensive, you can't share the information. We're going to lead the SDN market but we're going to brace for what people are after: programmability, lower cost, faster speed. So regarding the announcements about large SDN implementations, what you want to ask about is not how many people did you give it away to for free or off a software license. If you watched when Sony presented last quarter, it already has 300 customers with ACI capability and many of them well into production. Ask VMware how many software-defined NSX implementations they have in volume.


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