Cisco's Chambers Predicts Dawn Of 'Telepresence'

Delivering a keynote at the Interop conference, Cisco CEO

Dan Neel, Contributor

May 2, 2006

2 Min Read

An advanced form of teleconferencing dubbed "telepresence" will become common in a year, Cisco Systems President and CEO John Chambers said Tuesday in a keynote speech at Interop Las Vegas 2006.

Telepresence blends high-bandwidth IP communications into a high-resolution video- and voice-conferencing system. Such solutions will be so refined that users will be able to detect subtle nuances in the responses of other participants and follow them around a room, according to Chambers.

Chambers’ prediction stems from his vision of "the rise of the empowered consumer and employee." Consumer entertainment technology is creating a culture of people accustomed to getting whatever content they like whenever they want and on the devices they choose, he said. As employees, people also are demanding such capabilities in business technology, and the IT industry will respond by delivering high-end forms of business collaboration, he noted.

"Collaboration is going to be the productivity term for the next decade, and the empowerment of the employee base will drive this," Chambers said.

Three factors will drive this revolution in collaborative technology: unified IP technology, IT networks that work as secure platforms for applications and "the complete virtualization of storage, applications and processors," he said.

IP technology provides the means to blend voice, data, video and wireless networking, Chambers said. Moving security from applications to the network will spur development of more interoperable applications, and complete virtualization will mean the network decides how to deliver content to the appropriate device or screen size, he explained.

"By taking security out of the application and putting it on the network, you can take applications to market faster and make them more interoperable," Chambers said

Current market and technology trends toward globalization, mobilization and virtualization will help fuel the new collaboration paradigm, said Chambers, who predicted such high-end solutions to come in "three to five years, not 10."

But Chambers’ vision faces challenges that go beyond just quickly deploying technology, said Chuck Vierling, a network analyst at Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Financial, which is building a network connection to an outsourcer in India. For example, cultural differences between the United States and India could hinder the rollout of tech projects at the pace outlined by Chambers, he said. A disconnect between U.S. telecommunications carriers and India also could slow projects, and very high taxes are levied on U.S. firms opening shop in India, he added.

Still, the globalization effort under way at Principal Financial will be profitable when completed, according to Vierling. "So often, all of these things come down more to budget than they do to vision," he said of Chambers’ keynote.

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