One Rock Show of a Cisco Live!

Amazingly, I was one of the 15,000 attendees of this year’s Cisco Live! in Las Vegas. Another 40,000 attended virtually from nearly every country around the globe. It was my first Cisco Live!, and I was excited, focused, and looking forward to the keynote speeches by Cisco CEO John Chambers and Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior. But Las Vegas offers tons of distractions.

The distractions at the Mandalay Bay Resort alone included an impromptu kazoo band, acrobats with neon hula hoops, the DJ that played remixes of Police and Bon Jovi songs, and a technology on-screen trivia game and twitter feed on the JumboTrons. Wait, I almost forgot to mention the flash mob that danced in sync to the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and the Beatles’ “All Together Now.” I should have known those performers were too good-looking to be your average Cisco Live attendee.

Add all this to an over-excited Cisco Senior Vice President Carlos Dominguez introducing the keynote speakers, and you can see my point.

Still, I sat patiently in the Mandalay Bay Events Center that was fully packed with my fellow Cisco Live! attendees waiting for Chambers and Warrior to appear. I knew they would each get a warm reception. I didn’t realize they’d be treated like rock stars.

They are both excellent speakers, and their slide decks alone are impressive. But the light show and sound system were pure rock show. For a moment, I wish I had a lighter so I could have waved it above my head, but the glare from the attendees’ cell phones and iPads were bright enough to illuminate the floor of the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

John Chambers

A highlight from Chambers’ rock concert — I mean keynote speech — was the role of intelligent networks and their potential impact on many other technologies. He said intelligent networks will become the most strategic asset in IT. Also, cloud computing is the next IT infrastructure, he added.

Chambers admitted that Cisco needs to be easier to do business with, and he promised that Cisco’s product roadmaps would become customer driven in the future. He wants Cisco’s products to work better together. He also wants the company to make faster decisions and to become a “lean execution machine.” He laid out Cisco’s evolution from 1985 through 2016 in three stages: innovation, integration, and finally, simplification.

Chambers said collaboration will change the way we work and will drive productivity through four megatrends: mobile, social, visual, and virtual. He emphasized collaboration and video several times throughout his keynote. He said by 2015 video will be the main source of communication across the globe as well as the primary form of networking and IT and that video is the “next voice” with video increasing from 50% of all Internet traffic to 90% by 2014. Architecturally, Cisco is placing video into everything they do.

For Chambers’ keynote demo, he had Jim Grubb, Cisco’s Vice President of Communications Architecture, aka Cisco’s Chief Demonstration Officer, demonstrate the power that the combination of those four megatrends — mobility, social media, video, and cloud — will have on our everyday life. Grubb made the point by showing an energy company’s use of Cisco Quad using Cisco’s tablet, the Cius. The company uses the Cius as a remote control to drive a robot inside an oil pipe and upload videos and photos to the company’s maintenance department utilizing Cisco Quad as an enterprise tool for social media.

Padmasree Warrior

Next day, it was time to continue the Cisco rock show lineup with Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior. She didn’t disappoint. Again, her slide deck was impressive. First off, she mentioned that nearly 13 billion devices are connected to the Internet right now. With the world’s population currently at around 6.7 billion, you can easily figure that’s about two devices for every person alive on Earth right now. That number includes the 6,000 Cisco Cius tablets sold so far.

According to Warrior, the number of devices connected to the Internet is projected to grow to 50 billion by the year 2020. I’m gonna have to start wearing some cargo pants or, better yet, get one of those snazzy Cisco Live! backpacks with all those extra pockets for my additional devices.

Next slide: by 2015, two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video. Next slide: by 2012, 70% of all businesses will be using enterprise-class cloud technology.

Warrior walked through a quick demonstration of high-quality video offered by Cisco’s “next-generation” Cisco network juxtaposed with jittery video from a “good enough” network. There was no comparison.

In closing, I have to give props to Cisco Senior Vice President Carlos Dominguez. He boasted about the 1,800 tweets sent during the first keynote, not one of which was mine no thanks to AT&T. Despite that and the non-offensive Asian joke, Dominguez was an excellent master of ceremonies, mainly because of his “Pimp My Router” segment and the aforementioned kazoo band. Dominguez closed by saying “we live in a networked world.” Yes, Carlos, what happens in Vegas, stays… on Twitter, Facebook, and of course on a blog post or two.

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