Cisco's Chambers has his eyes on the tube

CEO John Chambers says Cisco is focused on the whole gamut of video screens

Cisco CEO John Chambers wants to make it clear that his company's top executives and technologists all have their eyes sharply focused on video screens -- from 50-inch plasmas, to cell phone and desktop PC monitors.

Speaking to industry analysts at Cisco's C-Scape conference in San Jose, California, Chambers continued to push video as the application that will drive Cisco's growth, as well as a technology that will lift up the vendor's traditional router and switch -- or, as Chambers says "plumbing" -- business.

C-Scape, a revamped version of Cisco's annual World Wide Analyst Conference, runs from Tuesday, Dec. 12 to 13. At the event, Chambers said he expects to see an explosion of video usage in all areas of networking, such as high-definition telepresence and corporate video messaging in enterprises, as well as IPTV in carrier networks. Cisco also plans to capitalize on expansion of burgeoning video-on-demand and movie downloading services, as well as low-quality, but high-volume, video streaming on personal networking sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

"If there is a killer application, it is video," Chambers said. "Just watch what has occurred with YouTube," where more than 40 million videos, at over 200TB, are streamed per day, according to estimates. "I would consider that baby-steps in terms of [potential future] loads on networks."

Cisco says it will capitalize on the video push with its traditional routers and switches, as well as new products, such as gear that allows a business to encode high-quality video from a desktop, and manage the distribution of content across a company. Meanwhile, Cisco will pursue video growth in the consumer, home network and entertainment markets through its Scientific Atlanta and Linksys brands.

The effect video is having on carriers is reflected in their purchase orders from Cisco, Chambers claims, as purchase of CRS-1 routers -- Cisco's highest-end product -- by service providers "are going from is going from three to five to 10 to 15 to 30 and sometimes 40" CRS-1s in a network in anticipation of growth. (Sales of the terabit-scale router have grown 600% year-over-year since its introduction in 2004, he added.)

Chambers and Cisco "Chief Demonstration Officer" Jim Grubb also showed off new enterprise video products that will be announced in January, which let enterprises control video, multimedia and digital signage content on kiosks, large-screen displays, and network-attached billboard devices.

The Cisco Media Player is a small, set-top-box-sized network device, which can stream video, still images or text to any type of display -- such as a plasma or LCD flat panel, or kiosk screen. The box is managed by software called Digital Media Manager, which allows administrators to group the Media Players, control what content is pushed to the devices, and when.

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