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Chambers: Cisco will become the number 1 IT company

John Gallant | July 23, 2013
Cisco boss talks about how SDN fits into its architecture, what Insieme is all about and why the Internet of Everything matters to IT pros.

Think software-defined networking will change the industry? You're thinking way too small, according to Cisco CEO John Chambers. In Cisco's strategy, SDN is just a single element in a holistic architecture that brings intelligence, programmability and application awareness to every facet of your infrastructure and spans the data center to the cloud. In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Chambers spoke with Chief Content Officer John Gallant about the power of Cisco's Unified Framework and how delivering on that vision could make Cisco the number one IT company overall. No small ambition there.

Chambers also explained the role the much-talked about spin-in venture Insieme plays in that strategy and why competitors will struggle to keep up with Cisco's architectural play. He also talked about what IT leaders should be doing to drive the Internet of Everything and why customers should expect big changes in the network and IT vendor landscape in the years ahead.

What's your feeling about the overall economic state of IT in the U.S. right now?
John, anything I say should not in any way imply how our current [quarter] is going or how the next quarter looks. I assume this [article] will come out in front of my earnings, so I've got to say that even stronger.

If you look at our last quarter, it was a very good quarter, and I'm using us as an example, from a share of wallet perspective, a market share perspective, and execution vs. our peers, and yet it was only a growth of a little bit over 5%. The market is tough, and most of the gains that are occurring in the market are share-of-wallet gains.  

When some groups came out and [stated] that IT spend would be at the 6% or 7% level for the year, I asked 20,000 customers at one time what they thought, and nobody, almost no one, is seeing that.  Part of the reason is that we're in an environment where people are not taking as much business risk, but part of it is that IT companies have to translate what they are selling to be in the customers' top business goals. There's a void there. That's the transition.

Most people would have said two or three years ago that we're a network player. I think you and your peers would now place us in the top five or six IT players in the world, and we think there's a chance to become the No.1 player. And it's because no one is taking the key concepts, whether it's the Internet of Everything or the transition of cloud and SDN [software-defined networks] and mobility and BYOD, to solve [customers'] business challenges. We're going to try to take advantage of that void and move not just our space in the top five or six, but to become the No.1 player. I give us 50/50 odds we can pull this off.


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