Cisco chief calls for more collaboration

John Chambers predicts the growth of Web 2.0 in the enterprise

Cisco CEO John Chambers Wednesday outlined his vision for the future of the IT industry at VMworld in San Francisco.

His theme was the need for organizations to ditch the command and control model and start collaborating instead, using Web 2.0 technologies and virtualization.

In his characteristic evangelical style, Chambers wrapped his vision with the example of Cisco itself, which he claimed drove productivity and profitability by cutting across organizational silos.

Chambers said it was about a "wave of collaboration across barriers and content. There will be a wave of productivity that will change how we work and the very nature of work itself."

"It's about going across silos, driving the company in any direction it needs to go," he said. "This is where IT becomes sexy again, where the sizzle comes back," he said.

Then Chambers returned to what has become, for him, a familiar theme. He said the enabler was the ability to hasten the speed of change, which he acknowledged is uncomfortable for most people. "We hate change," he said.

He said: "The vision isn't about the next 12 months but the next five to ten years. It's about how you differentiate, how you provide flexibility, and react to change.

"You need to implement technology to assist that, to catch market trends not 12 months out but five to ten years ahead of time."

The problem, said Chambers, is that Web 2.0 is "not really being used in the enterprise. It needs virtualization of resources on a global basis. This means technology such as wikis and FaceBook.

Using Cisco as his example, Chambers said that the processes that support Cisco's corporate acquisitions used to take 45 days but now they take eight as a result of using "a bunch of collaborative technologies."

He said: "Our data center strategy saved US$200 million and saved having to build a new data center for four years because we connected everything to enable collaboration between our storage, networking and server groups.

"It's about convergence of voice, video and data all stored in places you have difficulty getting to, such as in the home on small devices. To get to that data, it also got to be CEO idiot-proof, using one click access."

All this will be enabled by unified communications, he said. "Find me, follow me, get access to anything you want," was how he described it.

Chambers said: "Consumers will drive the evolution of this technology they'll will drive into the business with a vengeance."

Openness and security are key attributes, said Chambers. "It must be open -- closed architectures are gone forever -- and must be safe to keep things running in the data center and stop it leaving in an unsafe way."

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Manek Dubash

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