Warrior: What customers really want is something that works and something that lasts.
NWW: Well, they also want some ability to negotiate ...
Warrior: Yes, for sure. But that doesn't mean you compromise quality. I talk to a lot of customers and what I hear is that they want something that is reliable. They want something that is future proofed. Going back to the 6500, it's an installed base and they want the ability to protect that investment. There will be some customers that purely want something that's cheap and there will be an opportunity for some of our competitors to compete there.
NWW: What are your thoughts on virtual networks and switching, Big Switch, Arista?
Warrior: The idea is not new. The separation of the control plane, the idea of programmability in the network, these things have been around for a long, long time. Programmability is important. OpenStack is the open source way of doing that and we are active in that. It is really providing network as a service. OpenStack has done the compute side and the storage side and network as a service is the next piece. But the idea there is that programmability and developing APIs for people to work within the network is going to be very important. I think it will take time to evolve.
NWW: Open source is another big wave that IT is dealing with. IOS is not open. Where does open source fit into what Cisco's doing?
Warrior: Our strategy there is creating APIs. If you look at massively scaleable data centers where they're doing very complex Hadoop-type, horizontal [topologies] then they want to be able to program the network one way. If you look at infrastructure as a service, managing networks as a service, then their programmability means something completely different. So our approach is to say, for infrastructure as a service, here is a set of APIs that will support programmability.
NWW: APIs? That's the old, 1990's way of doing things. Why not offer programmability through open source?
Warrior: In OpenStack that's what we'll do. We have to select the right forums to do that.
NWW: The more I talk to "think tank" analysts, the more they say that with cloud computing and virtualization, enterprises are going to hire out for CCIE-type skills. What's next for the network engineers. Do they have a career?
Warrior: Some of these things are going to take a long time. When did virtualization start? It started decades ago, from a technology point of view. It's just now becoming reality. The role of the network is changing. It used to be just about connecting a client to a data center. We were defined by an IP address. That's changing. It's expected someday we'll have at least six [devices apiece]. Your IP is no longer your ID. It is no longer enough to know how the network was constructed in the past. It's really important to understand, security, privacy, wireless, the integration of wireless, virtualization. This goes back to architecture. It's no longer separate components. It is bringing those components together. My belief that the network will continue to be very, very important to the enterprise.
NWW: So enterprise IT people are going to become architects?
Julie Bort is the editor of Network World's Cisco Subnet community. She also writes the Odds and Ends blog for Cisco Subnet and the MicrosoftMicrosoft Subnet and Source Seeker for the Open Source Subnet community sites. Follow Bort on Twitter @Julie188. Update blog for
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