"As the network becomes the platform, you'll see total virtualization of the network. You have to make that first work in the data center. The network is the platform because it's ubiquitous and vendor-agnostic," said Chambers, during his welcome keynote at Cisco's Networkers user conference in Anaheim, California.
Cisco already offers a portfolio of products for the data center, including Ethernet and storage networking, Infiniband switching, security, and application networking, switching, and provisioning.
The Data Center 3.0 initiative will involve rolling out new products and services over the next 24 months that use various next-generation components like service oriented-architecture, Web 2.0, and the automatic provisioning of resources through virtualization.
Virtualization will be the main component of Cisco's present and future offerings. "The role virtualization is huge when you think about where the industry is going. It's moving from a box mentality to an architectural mentality. You get higher utilization of devices and eliminate the problem of outages," Chambers said.
But Chambers admitted that Cisco can't reach its goal alone, which is why it's working with large vendors in the data center space to bring the new technologies to market and help customers with their deployments, integration, and management.
The data center initiative is an ambitious move for the networking company, which five years ago referred to itself as a "plumber" that equipped businesses with routers and switches. Cisco is confident that its expertise in networking and storage virtualization, as well as its ability to catch market transitions through acquisitions and new technologies is the ticket to becoming a leading data center infrastructure provider.
Cisco is convinced that services like security, intelligent load balancing, and virtualization belong in the network rather than in other parts of the data center, such as servers.
Businesses currently looking to consolidate data centers for the purpose of cutting down power consumption and cooling costs are likely to embrace the "network as a platform" concept. But the next several months will be challenging for Cisco, as it moves into the data center full-time.
Chambers said, "It's back to the future. It's like the mid-90s again and we're about to enter a new generation of productivity. It's no longer about you. The power of the corporation is about us and the technology. It's the most excitement I've seen in over a decade."