What are Cisco’s top five priorities?

John Chambers at Cisco LiveLAS VEGAS — John Chambers, Cisco Systems‘ chairman and CEO, kicked off Cisco Live in Las Vegas today with a keynote speech that outlined the top five technology areas that the company will focus on for the next few years.

In some ways, Cisco is going back to its roots, with a renewed focus on core networking, although the company’s definition of “core” has expanded to include services, including security and mobility services. Cisco has always had some focus on core routing and switching products even as the company became to involved in advanced technologies a few years ago, but now it’s being declared a top priority going forward.

“At the heart of the future of the network are routing and switching,” Chambers said to a crowd of 15,000 customers and business partners (a record for Cisco live and 3,000 more people than the vendor expected to have in attendance).

Advanced technologies aren’t disappearing off of Cisco’s radar, of course. Number two on the priority list is collaboration. According to Chambers, collaboration technologies will drive five to 10 per cent productivity gains year-over-year.

Four megatrends are also driving the growth of collaboration solutions — mobile, social, visual and virtual.

“Collaboration will be the driver in productivity, so you’ll see us put a huge emphasis on collaboration,” Chambers said.

Data center, virtualization and the cloud are combined into one area of focus for Cisco, and as Chambers put it to the audience, it’s the most network-centric computing architecture in the history of computing.

Video will continue to be a priority for Cisco over the next few years. Cisco executives have been talking about how video traffic will make up 91 per cent of Internet traffic by 2014. Today, 51 per cent of all Internet traffic is video.

Cisco is operating under the assumption that video will become the leading way people communicate in the next four years, but Chambers also said video will be the primary form of IT. It will be the primary platform for communications and IT within the next four years, and Cisco will be driving the adoption of its own videoconferencing technologies (including telepresence and the recently updated WebEx).

Finally, the last focus area for Cisco is one that it formally introduced at Partner Summit earlier this year, but one that it has been planning towards and hinting at for the last couple of years. The company’s architectures strategy will be one of the five key focus areas, and it felt as if Cisco had clarified its position on its strategy since Partner Summit.

Chambers noted that architectures made for more reliable and secure environments because the products are designed to work better with each other.

“It’s impossible to do across vendors,” Chambers said.

According to Chambers, its competitors are still focused on one product at a time, but Cisco sees the future in architectures.