With all the new, transformational technologies out there, how will they all come together to transform business? On Wednesday, Cisco announced five new partners who are working together to create a physical Cisco House that showcases a possible future for business.
The partners -- Citrix, EMC, Intel, SAP, and Schneider Electric -- will join Cisco in providing technology and resources for the House, which is constructed on a roof-top location in London. The companies said that the joint effort, which features virtual desktops, data storage, processing power, analytical software, and energy management, will demonstrate "how partners can work together and create an ecosystem to transform business."
'What We Make Possible'
Cisco House is open for the next five months, and more than 11,000 visitors are expected. It provides a vision of a dedicated connected environment, and is intended to stimulate fresh ideas about how network platforms can provide new ways to promote growth and efficiency -- including reducing costs, increasing productivity, and creating new business and service models -- for businesses, non-profits organizations, cities and countries.
The vision is presented through interactive, multimedia experiences in the House, available on the ground floor, plus case studies shown on plasma screens. The top floor has a large lounge for networking, which overlooks Olympic Park. Meeting rooms feature TelePresence suites, and the House also offers smaller communication pods.
Cisco UK CEO Phil Smith told news media that the focus of Cisco House is "not on what Cisco makes, but what we make possible." He added that the aim is to engage leaders around innovative business models, using global case studies to show how Cisco and others are helping to create business, city, or country transformations.
Citrix said in a statement that the House represents a working environment for the Cloud Era, where "everyone is assumed to be mobile, using multiple, personal devices, connecting over a wireless network." In this kind of environment, Citrix said, apps are delivered through self-service enterprise app stores, over private or public clouds.
'A Value Play'
EMC points out that data centers are moving from "rigid, siloed infrastructures to virtualized clouds," providing greater agility at a lower cost.
The House in London is only the latest of many efforts by Cisco to showcase integrated visions of the future of business. Its Cisco Smart Work Centers, to take one example, conceptualize public spaces near residential neighborhoods where people meet to share wireless Net access, telepresence, collaboration tools, and such supportive services as catering and day care.
The company envisions these spaces, intended for local government executives, as providing "21st century work options" such as teleworking. Cisco's vision for these centers includes incorporation of its products for real-time communications, mobility, security , management and virtualization.
Positioning itself in the future of business can be seen as a way for the company to create a brand that is more than just networking technology. On the hardware side, for instance, Cisco is facing increasing competition from such companies as China-based Huawei, which released this week a new line of data switches and is widely expected to be increasing its competition with Cisco for market share.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, said that Cisco's continuing emphasis on being a leader in developing the future of businesses is "a value play," not unlike Intel's increasing focus "on the quality of user experience, with its shift" towards ultra-light laptops or sophisticated graphics, and away from its traditional focus as a chipmaker.