Cisco Keynote: Prepare for Convergence

LAS VEGAS – John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. calls his chief technology officer Judith Estrin the "mother" of the high-tech industry. "Mom" had a message for the enterprise community at Networld+Interop Wednesday morning and it was that the kids need to clean their data center and start preparing for the convergence of voice, video and data.

The current infrastructure that’s being used is circuit-based and was set up for voice. Estrin says that needs to change so all communications are sent as data packets. The best solution, Estrin explains, will be driven by competition. "It’s competition that makes AT&T put voice over cable and US West to put video over wire," says Estrin.

While many industry people say Web tone needs to be as reliable as dial tone, the Cisco CTO says Web tone isn’t only as reliable, but more reliable than the dial tone that runs over a single string connection and is vulnerable to a single point of failure. Web servers are fault tolerant and can fail over to servers that can balance the load if one shuts down.

Estrin explains that the network needs to be more intelligent, especially since a diverse range of client devices are being developed to make it as thin and dumb as possible. The new network intelligence needs to be user aware, applications and content aware, and be able to perform more operations automatically.

The composition of an intelligent network layers policy and control services and the upcoming registration and directory services over the network devices and Internet services. In the middle there can be encryption, intrusion detection and anti-virus software layered on.

Estrin says these services will provide a broader, faster network to build on. "In the enterprise, we also have to drive that bandwidth to the desktop using Gigabit Ethernet," she explains.

She also says these innovations will make it easier for remote access as well. "It is absolutely critical that we design technologies for mobile users to have the same offerings as fixed users," Estrin says. – Brian Ploskina

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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