Next Sunday, I’m packing up and shipping back to Vegas for Cisco Live! 2011, the IT giant’s annual user conference. Last year, they proudly announced the Cisco Cius, the tablet built for enterprise which has been lingering on the horizon for a year, limply promising a video-driven tablet that will delight IT departments everywhere.
That was a very different Cisco: HP still was getting its consolidated enterprise story straight, everybody and their uncle was promising a tablet, and Cisco still was touting a much-beloved little consumer device, the Flip.
The Flip has, of course, been deep sixed since then, with John Chambers publicly apologizing and promising to return Cisco to its decidedly less sexy enterprise roots. Less sexy, that is, unless you care about running a profitable business that helps companies the world over get back to being productive.
But what’s the big news going to be this year? Besides drips and dribbles, Cisco’s been relatively humble lately about the Cius, largely because, to quote Churchill, they have much to be humble about. I’ve seen them in the wild and they’re adequate (actually exactly what I would have imagined a BlackBerry tablet would have been if BlackBerry hadn’t done the PlayBook). But adequate, coupled with IT love, hasn’t been selling phones for a while, and I doubt it will sell pricier tablets except in a few, hopefully profitable niches.
So what is the promised “breaking news” that Cisco has scheduled? I have no idea, but my money would place it in more data center announcements: Beefed-up hardware offerings and a more integrated way to control both physical and virtualized devices in cooperation with the networking teams. John McCool, senior vice president of Data Center, Switching and Services, is scheduled to join Padmasree Warrior, CTO, shortly after the big announcements, so I really expect a whole bunch of new reasons why it’s safe to bet on a Cisco-centric future, along with reassurances that the company’s continuing to embrace standards and interoperability. Maybe the Cius’ real value is for Cisco to demonstrate that the future of business is built around data-heavy video streams, no matter which final product companies end up buying.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?
Michael Morisy is the editorial director for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Check out our complete Cisco Live! Coverage guide for more breaking news.