Kelly Ahuja, Cisco: Part II

FierceTelecom: Okay, so you mentioned virtualization. What are the elements of virtualization from a Cisco point of view?

Ahuja: Virtualization can have many definitions to many people. The first part of virtualization is that one customer means they can take a network and virtualize it for my public Internet service and private/corporate network service. Someone else wants to take their network and virtualize it for their voice, data and video service. Others are saying virtualization, while it's important at the network level, want to look at it across the entire network. This customer wants to have access to information that they can put into any place in the network.  

Cisco telepresenceSticking with the postal example, if we did not have the postal branches out in every city what would happen is all of the letters we send would have to go to a central distribution center to get sorted. Imagine the complexity of that. Maybe some courier companies do that today, but in other cases that model might not work. What you need to do is have an infrastructure that allows me to virtualize out in the network. If you allow all of those letters to come into the distribution center, you'd have to build a big highway to get there, but the right way to do is you need to have the right balance. When you're building a service for making money for a carrier, you need to monetize and cost optimize your network. Virtualization can allow you to have content distribution inside the network and cost avoidance inside the network where that content distribution can allow you to save costs to traverse across the network from one place to another.

FierceTelecom: Another key trend I have to ask about is Ethernet. Do you see Ethernet playing an increasing role in enabling the veritable Internet of things and the virtual network?

Ahuja: Ethernet to me is a physical plug that has become very common across anything we do. Whether it's in the home, in the network equipment, it's become that common connecting ground. The reason why Ethernet has become that common ground is that as you move toward high data speeds Ethernet has had the ability to adapt to those high speeds very quickly and easily as opposed to SONET technologies. For example, SONET and TDM technology went up to 40G fairly well, but if you're looking at 100 Gig, it's really 100 GigE that's coming together.
If you look at the amount of 10 Gig Ethernet versus 10 Gig SONET being sold today, there's a stark difference between the numbers of ports that are shipped.

The big driver of that is cost. The economics of Ethernet is more promising. What many people confuse Ethernet with is a technology piece. To build a network, you need to look beyond the Ethernet interface and ask, what goes into the QoS mechanism and is it a Layer 2 or 3 mechanism that you use? All of those things are important to look at. Ethernet is becoming the common denominator primarily driven by the economics driven across the entire network for the physical interface.