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Cisco to Wall Street: ‘We feel your pain’

Cisco CEO John Chambers kicked off his keynote address at the company’s Financial Analyst Conference with an unusual message: “Ask not what Wall Street can do for Cisco, but what Cisco can do for Wall Street.”

Chambers offered condolence to financial analysts reeling from plunging markets and failing banks.

“We went through a life threatening experience in 2001,” Chambers said, not referring to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center but the ravaging of the tech markets. “We truly understand what you and you’re colleagues are going through.”

Then he flipped the script on analysts.

“If there is anything we can do, we will be there for you.”

With that out of the way, Chambers assured analysts that Cisco’s long-term growth prediction of 12 to 17% is on track despite the economic downturn.

Then he launched into an hour-and-a-half presentation of how Cisco will dominate multiple technology market sectors, including video, virtualization and Web 2.0.

Cisco has long touted its collaboration and new video technologies, but this year the company is clearly coming closer to the concept of one device connecting to any network for voice, video, data and collaboration applications. That plays nicely into Cisco’s core networking technology portfolio, since the more converged video and data applications proliferate, the more bandwidth growth explodes.

Chambers said Cisco is “about to see an instant replay” of the mid ‘90s when the company led competitors in automating orders and customer care online. With Web 1.0 applications, Cisco ushered in sales growth of the very technology used in its own business processes.

This time around, Cisco is using video and Web 2.0 — including internal wikis, video blogging, telepresence and collaborative workspace — throughout its own campus, and Chambers said customers want in on these technologies and business processes.

“I sit down with the CEO and he brings in the key business person not necessarily the CIO,” Chambers said, explaining that technology and business process planning are tightly intertwined.

In perfect Cisco-marketing form, Chambers added a splash of drama to his presentation by displaying a faux home office on stage that was connected via VPN to the Cisco network, had an IP phone, a small-screen telepresence system and an IP set-top box in the living room.

Using the equipment, Jim Grubb, Cisco chief demonstration officer, first located a co-worker for a meeting using a presence application that was attached to a database in which employees were tagged by their expertise. Then he launched into a WebEx impromptu video meeting, did a search on the company intranet and public Internet for a video clip of Chambers discussing green emissions, and then sent that video to his own mail box. At that point, he could access that video to view on his set-top box, PC or mobile device. Grubb also displayed a holographic telepresence meeting during which a co-worker’s head miraculously appeared on stage for an instant meeting.

After Chambers spoke, CTO Padmasree Warrior laid out a vision for Cisco’s role in cloud computing among other technologies.

“In our vision there will not be a single uber-cloud,” Warrior said. “There will be a combination of public clouds and private clouds” that will work in a federation.

The applications in that federation of clouds will be enabled by the intelligent network.

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