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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.

They've claimed 400 customers.

If they've got 400, ask them to give you 20 names to go talk to and you pick and choose because if they've got 400, you should be able to get 20 easy.

OK, we'll do that. What are you seeing in terms of enterprise adoption of SDN at this point?

I was at a company yesterday that was trying to share with me what customers want is SDN. I said, "I apologize, but what customers want is flexibility in cost and programmability." I don't know anybody who wakes up in the morning and says I want SDN. What they want is the benefits of programmability, investment protection, architecture, flexibility of open architecture and that's where we win. It's unfortunate that VMware cannily threw a hurdle into our EMC relationship because if you watch their economic payback from their acquisition, it's been a disaster, with Nicira, a disaster.

How so?

Not producing any revenue. What did they pay, a billion?

Yeah, and for a very early stage company.

For a very early stage company. Disaster.

The other thing I wanted to ask you about is Internet of Everything. When you look at it right now, what is the impact it's having on Cisco from a revenue and product transition perspective?

Let's start at the specific number level that you're leading me to. It's about a $4.5 billion run rate and incremental pull-through growing at 40% to 50%, so it's a big number.

Is it project-based revenue?

Usually these are whole architectural-based revenues and as long as you measure it equally, then you can see your trends. So it's both the core capability and the pull-through that we would not have gotten. Name the smart cities that aren't Cisco based. Pretty hard, because it's architectures. You have to know what to do with architectures on mobility or traffic or security or government services or lighting. These have to have a common approach and we have the products along with our partners to do what you need. I like where we are.

How long do you think it is before Internet of Everything is just an assumption, baked into everything we do?

I think it's going to be in five years. The impact is every company, every country becomes digital. The Internet of Everything is really an architectural concept. People get it and it is about people, process, data and things coming together with a whole bunch of architectures underneath a cloud, security, mobility and everything else that goes with it. By 2020, almost every company will be well on its way to getting there and the majority of projects will fail. That's what a lot of people don't get because it's way beyond just connectivity of things. It is how do you get the right information at the right time and the right person and the right machine to make the right decision.


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