I went to Networld+Interop Las Vegas earlier in May and attempted to attend John Chambers (CEO of Cisco)'s keynote speech. But the line was too long, so I went home early. This and other observations from Las Vegas, N+I 2004.

 Interestingly enough, Cisco is big on pushing the Intelligent Network. This, apparently, was John Chambers' message at N+I. [I got this third-hand from the fellow I sat next to on the plane back to Dallas, who got it from colleagues who attended.]

Of course, this message appeals to phone company people. It's a lot less interesting to enterprise people. That's because the # 1 assumption of IP has been that we assume intelligent devices at the ends of the network…. and consistently, over the past two decades, the answer to just about any problem has been to throw more bandwidth at the problem.

In a coffee-break debate with one of my friends, he argued that Cisco has no choice but to tell this story. He said that Cisco has sold most of the 'Stupid Network' gear, and needs to add value (and cost) to that infrastructure to keep their technologies and products relevant to their customers. Adding intelligence is the only way they can go.

Interestingly, Michael Cappellas, CEO of the newly-non-bankrupt MCI, presented his company to the assembled participants of the keynote. Frankly, the relevancy of his company continues to be threatened. The message they used: MCI has a global backbone network. Pretty commodity-oriented to me. The role of telephone companies is rapidly collapsing directly into the transport of bits. There is no more value add for them. Access is available from lots of other companies with technology tradeoffs.

Why can't networks just keep delivering what they're increasingly good at – more bits at less cost?

David Isen   supports my argument too (actually he thought of it first).