ORLANDO, Fla.-When it comes to the future of cloud computing, CEOs John Chambers and Larry Ellison have different visions of what this technology can do for enterprise computing.
While Oracle's Ellison threw cold water on the cloud computing hype at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in September, Cisco's Chambers embraced the concept of cloud computing at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo here. In addition to seeing a vital role for Cisco as cloud computing develops, Chambers believe that the whole idea of cloud computing is just a logical "evolution" of what people have come to expect from the Internet.
In its simplest terms, cloud computing allows customers to host their applications and other data on another vendor's infrastructure, and then these customers can have access to the applications through the Internet. At the same time, some companies, such as Google and Amazon, are building their own clouds for their own applications.
In Chambers' view, cloud computing networks will start to mesh together. When that happens, Cisco plans to hold the software and hardware together through its networking products and allow different clouds to integrate and work together. In a way, this expands on Chambers' vision of more collaboration and use of Web 2.0 tools in the enterprise. The cloud can also allow enterprises to develop and deliver software.
"The cloud will move from being largely proprietary, in one type of approach, to clouds interfacing with clouds and then how do you manage it?" said Chambers.
"You can't do this without a network, and you can't do it without intelligence in the cloud as well as intelligence at the edge of the cloud," Chambers added. "This has to do with reasons of identity, reasons of security and reasons of performance. When you go across these clouds, from the home networks to mobile networks to fixed networks and into the enterprise networks, that's what we do well, and you have to be able to do it in an architectural and efficient way. We're very bullish on what clouds mean in the future."
While Cisco can benefit from its network as the bridge between different cloud infrastructures, it can also help the company's SAAS (software as a service) offering through WebEx or with other parts of the company that deal with collaboration, such as Jabber-Cisco's recently acquired open-source instant messaging software.
To show how important applications such as WebEx are to Cisco, Chambers said the company's own internal use has increased 2,500 percent since January. With that, Chamber added that Cisco also plans to offer more services in the cloud during the next several years.
"We will do the exact same thing in Web 2.0 as we did in routing and switching," said Chambers.