Cisco is big tease about 'Big Bang' switch upgrade

VP only says switches will get greener; mum on blade server plans

Cisco's 'Big Bang' switching upgrade will emerge in late January and encompass more than just the Catalyst 6500.

SAN JOSE -- Cisco's "Big Bang" switching upgrade will emerge in late January and encompass more than just the Catalyst 6500.

The emphasis for upgrade will be green computing capabilities and apply to Cisco's entire switching portfolio, said Marie Hattar, vice president of network systems and security solutions.

"It's an evolutionary capability. It's not a new platform," Hattar said at Cisco's CScape analyst conference in San Jose this week. "It's really more tied to green capabilities, and how the network really enables those types of capabilities."

Hattar would not divulge any further details on "Big Bang."

Hattar was also tight-lipped on Cisco's intentions in the blade server market. Cisco is reportedly developing an offering, expected in 2009, that will ostensibly compete with IBM, HP and Dell systems deployed for years within data centers.

IBM and HP have been longtime partners of Cisco's but observers believe those relationships will be strained if Cisco offers its own blade server system.

"Cisco looks at all markets and we look at where there are opportunities for us to provide architectural difference," Hattar said. "If the blade server market provides a market where we can differentiate and we have a compelling offer, and it's something where a complete architectural play has an opportunity to shine, then it would be a market we'd consider."

"Our approach to that is no different than entering into content networking, security or application security, or services on a router," she says. "We look at whether we can be a significant player in that market and we have a competitive and architectural differentiation."

Also on tap for 2009 from Cisco is a TelePresence virtual conferencing system for the home; and language translation and speech recognition for Cisco's new MXE 3000 media processor, which debuted this week. The home TelePresence systems will go into trials in the summer and be generally available sometime after that, says Marthin DeBeer, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Emerging Technologies group.

The translation/recognition capability for the MXE 3000, which changes media formats to accommodate different devices and standards, will allow users speaking different languages to engage in videoconferencing sessions with translation.

Next year will also see a "multistage capability" – including partnering and internal development -- from Cisco to improve security in a virtualized or cloud computing environment. Earlier this year, Hattar spelled out some of the security holes opened up by such environments that could impede widespread adoption.

Cisco will unveil security strategies for particular areas of data center computing – including endpoint, virtualized device, network level and server virtualization – as well as a holistic architecture for safeguarding data centers and cloud computing environments, she said.

Cisco is also looking to deliver security capabilities via a software-as-a-service model, Hattar said, while declining to get into specifics. And Cisco next year will also launch an initiative to demonstrate how companies can increase employee productivity through technology during times of economic stress.

"It's times like this when companies have the opportunity to outpace the competition and when they adopt certain technology they can double, quadruple the productivity," Hattar said. "We're on a path to showcase and highlight those."

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