Cisco embarks on media-centric Internet thrust

update Networking giant sees Internet evolving into rich-media realm and will grow business in adjacent markets to meet corresponding needs, says exec.

update SINGAPORE--The Internet is moving away from being a data transportation and messaging platform, into a space filled with integrated rich-media content such as video and voice, and Web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook, that encourages online collaborations even at the enterprise level, according to Cisco Systems.

The networking giant also sees increasing demand for distributed virtualized data center architecture, Irving Tan, newly-appointed managing director of Cisco Singapore and Brunei, said during a media briefing here Thursday.

He noted that this "new Internet" will frame the company's future strategies and product offerings.

For instance, Cisco is banking that cloud service providers will use its virtualized data centers to deliver cloud computing, or as Tan calls it, "anything-as-a-service".

"On one level, we are providing technology that goes into cloud-based services through, for example, our virtualized data centers and unified communication services to enable cloud service providers," he said. "Beyond this, we are also looking at things like software, and [the acquisition of] WebEx is a very good example of this."

He cited small and midsize businesses (SMBs) as a good demographic to adopt cloud-based services, because these companies often lack the necessary manpower and know-how to operate the applications.

The company is also looking to further develop its unified communications offering, particularly its TelePresence videoconferencing platform, Tan indicated. According to Cisco, TelePresence enabled the company to avoid over 91,000 meetings in the past three years, resulting in US$365 million in travel savings and cutting some 197,273 metric tons of greenhouse gases as a result of the trips avoided.

While he acknowledged the cost of adopting this form of videoconferencing is still considerable, Tan said the company is "currently in talks with a couple of telcos" that are keen to make the bandwidths more economical and telepresence technology more attractive.

To target the consumer sphere, he said Cisco will focus on video services and is looking to introduce a set-top box that will enable cable or IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) capability, building upon its acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta--formerly a manufacturer of cable TV, telecommunications and broadband equipment.

Cisco also made its foray into the video device space after acquiring Pure Digital, which manufactures the Flip Video camcorders.

Banking on next-gen networks
Underpinning all these developments will be the introduction of next-generation networks, Tan said, pointing to the deployment of Singapore's fiber-to-the-home initiative as an appropriate example.

"With this network architecture in place, we expect to see an increase in available bandwidth and this will allow video-enabled services and applications to be introduced and to flourish," he said. He also hedged that the new "killer app" would be a video-based one.

He reiterated that, despite the company's move into adjacent markets, Cisco's core business remains in switches and routing.

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