Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group includes the ISR router family, Wi-Fi technology and of course the Catalyst switching family. It's a business that dominates the enterprise networking landscape and is undergoing a period of transition now as Software Defined Networking (SDN) begins to take hold.
Leading the portfolio for Cisco is Rob Soderberry, Senior Vice President and General Manager. In an exclusive video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet, Soderberry answers questions about the risks to Cisco's switching business, where SDN fits in and why the Catalyst is one of the most successful pieces of networking technology ever created.
"What I focus on isn't building the data center, I focus on getting those applications connected out to the users," Soderberry explained. "Getting users onto the network, getting applications delivered out to those users as well as getting things and new types of infrastructure on to the network; that's really the mission of the enterprise networking team."
Cisco's switching business has come under pressure in recent years. The company recently reported a quarterly decline for the first quarter of fiscal 2013 in the switching business.
In Soderberry's view, Cisco is holding onto its massive switching share, just fine.
Cisco has been undergoing a transition in its data center switching portfolio from the Catalyst to the Nexus switching family.
At the core of Cisco's enterprise switching portfolio is the Catalyst 6500 product family. Cisco has been selling the 6500 for over a decade and has been updating it steadily with new chassis and line cards.
"We are very focused on continuing to drive the Catalyst 6500 forward as the premier, core enterprise networking platform," Soderberry said. "That's the platform that has all the service richness and capabilities that customers need."
Soderberry noted that at some point in the near future, Cisco will be making a big announcement about the Catalyst 6500 roadmap.
A key value proposition for the Catalyst 6500 is modularity and investment protection.
"The Catalyst 6500 is absolutely the switch that runs the world, every enterprise, every public sector has got the Catalyst 6500 at the core of their networks," Soderberry said. "That's over $50 billion of switches sold to date."
Cisco is actively engaged in the move towards SDN. OpenFlow is supported on a number of Cisco devices including the Catalyst 3850.
Cisco also has its own OnePK effort which aims to enable programmability across its networking portfolio.
"Customers already have networks deployed and nobody wants to rip that network out in order to deploy SDN," Soderberry said. "The idea behind the Cisco ONE controller is that you can use your existing network as is and you can begin to expose capabilities."
Cisco is a key player in the nascent OpenDaylight project, which is an open source effort to built a common SDN platform.
Soderberry noted that the idea behind OpenDaylight is to make sure that the industry ends up with very robust SDN controllers that are interoperable.
For Soderberry a key challenge is making sure that Cisco is continuing to service existing needs while at the same time pushing forward on new innovations for the enterprises of tomorrow.
"One of the real challenges of being Cisco is that we need to both be operationally efficient and drive a great experience for existing customers, while at the same time being very innovative," Soderberry said. "Being able to push new applications and new technologies whether it is SDN, IPv6 or the Internet of Everything and be able to push those with a passion of a startup."
Watch the video interview with Rob Soderberry below:
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.