Cisco Aims High

Reporter's Notebook: At its user conference, the company courts C-level executives.

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Cisco Systems Cisco Networkers user conference, normally a place for network engineers and technicians to learn new tricks and techniques to keep networks humming, this year began to move up the food chain.

At at the July 22-26 conference here, Cisco added new sessions, user case studies and high-level briefings to draw more IT executive-level customers to the show.

It makes sense that as Cisco continues its effort to move beyond being a network box supplier, it would woo CIOs to its conference.

Indeed some chief technology officers who participated in Ciscos activities do view Cisco as a strategic partner, not a tactical network plumbing supplier.

CEO John Chambers, in a roundtable discussion with the press, continued to talk about one of his favorite subjects: Ciscos new TelePresence next-generation video conferencing systems. The product, developed internally in a skunk-works project at Cisco, is a departure for the San Jose, Calif., company, which typically buys innovation by snapping up startups. When asked whether he thought TelePresence was a home run for the internal startup, he said, "No. I view TelePresence as a grand slam. The question is, will it be dramatically more than that in terms of business transformation?"


Looks like that technology will see plenty of additional funding. Stay tuned for more developments with it, along with more internally created innovations. Said Chambers of its internal startup operation: "Its on fire."

He and his executive team are also weighing how far they want to take Cisco into the consumer market. While Ciscos business there is growing 10 to 15 percent annually now, Cisco still has to decide whether to try to make it a "$15 billion opportunity."

Along with its new VFrame resource provisioning appliance, Cisco at Networkers launched several new SAN (storage area network) options aimed at raising the bar in the data center.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the VFrame Data Center appliance.

Among those is a new service for Ciscos MDS 9500 Series and MDS 9200 Series SAN modules and switches that encrypt all the data going to tape and disk. "With the ubiquity of that service, encryption takes place across everything. If you lose a disk, theres no data loss," Douglas Gourlay, senior director of the data center solutions group for Cisco, said at the press launch of Ciscos Data Center 3.0 strategy.

The new Storage Media Encryption service, which secures data at rest on multivendor tape drives and virtual tape libraries, is due by October. Disk support is planned for a later release.

Cisco also added a new data migration option for its MDS 9000 storage switches. The Data Mobility Manager transfers block data across multivendor storage volumes.

The MDS 9000 also saw the addition of two new family members—the MDS 9222i Multiservice Modular Switch for departmental and branch-office SANs and the MDS 9134 Multilayer Fabric Switch for midsize enterprises.

Cisco also updated its Application Control Engine load balancing modules for the Catalyst 6500 LAN switches with a new software release that boosts the performance of XML and Web services.

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