Cisco CEO says public and private clouds are what networking is all about

CEO Interview series

In this installment of IDG Enterprise's "CEO Interview Series," Cisco CEO John Chambers talks with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant, Computerworld Editor-in-Chief Scot Finnie and InfoWorld.com Editor-in-Chief Eric Knorr about where Cisco sees cloud computing going.

Chambers answers his critics: What premium pricing?

How do you see both private and public cloud computing rolling out from an enterprise perspective? What do you see as the ultimate intersection of these?We think the ultimate intersection will be a confederation, where it is completely transparent to the end user, the CIO and up. Completely transparent to the end user what combination of physical, virtual, public clouds and private clouds. That is perfect for us, because that's what networking's about.

The first thing I asked Padmasree Warrior, CTO] when she came to Cisco was to outline our cloud strategy. She went and got the best engineers, worked with them, came up with the approach. Now we're driving it with tremendous speed and efficiency, and expanding the partnership with VMware and EMC, who are our best partners. But we're also getting close to Net App and other players within the industry and getting back to the open standards type of question. We’re off to a real good start here.

Chambers: 'I did not want to compete against IBM and HP'

Now, having said that, do you know who our best partners will be in public and private clouds? The service providers, because it's in their interest that the pipes are not dumb pipes and they're not commoditized by the edge players or by the content players. We have a common opportunity here.

What's the bigger market sooner, private cloud or public cloud?

Public cloud, in the short term. Longer term, the private and the combination, the federation, whatever you want to call it. By the way, we're already doing that ourselves. We're already doing our own clouds and we're interfacing to other peoples' clouds. It's classic Cisco. We do it ourselves. Understand the strengths and limitations of it. Then share what our moves will be.

Based on this and other discussions with Cisco executives, it sounds like Cisco's making a huge bet on service providers and the cloud. Would you characterize it that way?

We made the huge bet on service providers back in 2001. A lot of people at that time said we ought to focus on enterprise, we ought to focus on commercial. Service providers are a separate business, not as healthy in direction. We respectfully said we can do the 'and' here. And you'd have to argue that we did pretty well in enterprise, pretty well in commercial and very well in the new market, the service provider. They are the logical step for our first real cloud build-outs, and there's not a major service provider that I’m aware of in the world that isn’t at least thinking about potentially doing that with Cisco.(See story, Chambers: Why the Flip video camera matters to CIOs.)

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