If you’ve ever worked on a complicated crossword puzzle you know that there is often one word or phrase that connects many rows. It’s the answer that connects the dots for so many other answers, suddenly making the whole puzzle come together.
At Cisco Live 2010 this week, John Chambers unveiled the Cisco Cius. The beautiful 7” color touch screen of the Cisco Cius will be compared to other tablet devices in the market, but to see it as just a device would be akin to listening to an orchestra and just noticing the conductor. I will offer that you should look at the Cisco Cius as the culmination of years of strategic planning and the tipping point for a new way for the world to interact with computing.
Before I get accused of hyperbole, let me step back a bit and explain why I view the Cisco Cius on those terms. For many years Cisco has talked about the power of The Network as the Platform, constantly delivering a mix of network services for any application or use-case. Data, Voice, Video – eCommerce, Education, Gaming, Social Media. At times we layered in devices such as IP Phones or Telepresence screens or Unified Computing that leveraged the services of the network to deliver unique new customer experiences. Throughout our evolution, we extended the boundaries of the workplace as people and businesses evolved, merging the need for business interaction and personal interactions.
With each new innovation or acquisition, we stressed the need for intelligence in the network fabric as the unifying element to bring together the next generation of digital communications. In the engineering labs and in the field with customers, we worked extremely hard to unify many distinct elements into seamless solutions. For most of our customers the end results were solutions that enabled them to evolve their businesses in ways not possible just a few years ago. But for some people, the constant need for all the advanced functionality we put into the network fabric was a mystery. Security, Quality of Service, Network Extendibility, Mobility Awareness, Hybrid Clouds?
Cisco Cius is truly the first instance of bringing the entire vision and strategy together. At the most basic level, it leverages the network for every aspect of it’s functionality – WiFI/3G4G for connectivity and mobility, Cloud Services for applications, Video for communications – all built on an open framework to allow customers and partners to extend the level of innovation. Digging deeper, it delivers an experience that has no boundaries – Mobility for the blended lives we live; Secure Access for business needs and Ubiquitous Access for personal needs. It can be a virtual desktop, leveraging virtualized resources in the Data Center. It can take advantage of Public Cloud, Private Cloud or Hybrid Cloud architectures for WebEx, Unified Communications, Telepresence or other collaboration services. It takes the amazing Cisco High-Definition Telepresence experience that was previously only available at the higher-end and delivers it to any individual. It fits in the palm of your hand and delivers a personal, social experience. And it’s built on the open Android platform so it can be what you need it to be and what you want it to be. Security, Quality of Service, Network Extendibility, Mobility Awareness, Hybrid Clouds.
Cisco Cius will be the starting point for many new innovations to come. It will also be the starting point for people to look at different ways to build the networks to support experiences like the Cisco Cius. The networks will have to be unified to support the mix of traffic. The networks will be deployed in more consistent models to allow for rapid growth or focus on flexibility. The networks will be borderless to allow innovation to leverage the best resources, regardless of location.
For me, the announcement of the Cisco Cius was a light-bulb moment. It was the long crossword answer that connected the dots for many other answers. It showed people how to leverage all the Cloud Computing resources we’ve discussed for years. It showed how we blend the demands of our professional and personal time. It leverages the knowledge, creativity and talent of the global community to create an experience that turns the Internet into the Human Network.