Robbins and Zorawar “Biri” Singh, the newly appointed CTO of platforms, also said Cisco will play a key role in driving the digital revolution across businesses and data centers, as well as play an active part in the Internet of Things (IoT).
On the white box front, Robbins said there will be different use cases throughout the customer infrastructure and that Cisco “does not have religion on how this plays out.” Cisco’s software might run on top of x86 servers in some instances and on ASICs in others. Cisco, according to Robbins, is “very committed to being open.”
While not discounting white boxes, Robbins said network operators need security and real-time analytics on top-of-rack servers.
“Where we see customers deploying a white box open infrastructure with software on top has nothing to do with capex,” Robbins said. “It’s more about managing a huge infrastructure with a [more] reduced feature set than broad-based enterprises would need.”
Regardless of whether the hardware is ASIC-based or off-the-shelf, Robbins said that as Cisco builds orchestration, it will be open northbound for developers and southbound if customers want to apply the same intelligence.
The keys for driving the digital revolution and convergence are simplifying and moving “fast, fast, fast,” Robbins said, echoing a sentiment he’d expressed during his transition into the CEO office.
Robbins said that 25 percent of Cisco’s customers have a strategy in place for taking advantage of the digital revolution that’s currently underway, but 75 percent “know about it, but don’t know how.” It’s Cisco’s job to help them think about what is possible with technology, he said.
Cisco plans on aiding them by adding software to existing products and by producing new applications, all in order to help data centers and business deploy at a faster rate. While Cisco’s fortunes were built upon routers and switches, Robbins and Singh emphasized the move to SDN, NFV and software during Monday’s Global Editors Conference.
Whether it’s called the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything (IoE), the latter of which Cisco seems to prefer, it’s the next big thing, said Robbins, noting that the IoT “things” will be bigger than the first wave of the Internet in the 90s. He predicted that there will be at least 50 billion devices connected online by 2020.
Sticking with his software theme, Robbins said that everything Cisco is building will be programmable, while CTO Singh said that automation and orchestration will play key roles.