Big changes are on the way for the future of IT. At least that’s what Cisco CEO John Chambers said during his keynote at InterOp (the annual IT tech trade show) this past Wednesday morning. During his presentation, Chambers outlined what Cisco believes to be the next major phase of the web—The Internet of Everything—as well as the company’s planned approach over the next few years—i.e. Application Infrastructure.That being said, what exactly does it really mean?

What is The Internet of Everything

Cisco defines the Internet of Everything as being “the growing network of physical objects that can communicate with one another and people via the Internet.” Simply put, they’re referring to the network that exists between Internet connected devices—i.e. smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Now, as the number of these devices continues to grow, there is more and more need for network growth to support these devices. During his keynote, Chambers acknowledged the growing number of Internet connected devices and approximated that from 2013 to 2020 the number would increase from around 50 billion to 500 billion.

InterOp John Chambers

In understanding this, its clear that this “Internet of Everything” is absolutely essential, as it will allow the network that exists between these objects to expand to perform fully. Chambers states, “It will be implemented by combining things, with processes, with business changes, with people. And, it will drive a productivity number, and a financial number, that is just mind-boggling.” What does this mean? Well, he Internet of Everything will consolidate and simplify various functionalities, which will ultimately improve productivity and yield higher profits.

While this all sounds well and nice, it might be unclear to some how this platform will do all of this. The answer lies with Application Infrastructure. Simply put, this type of infrastructure works to enable networks to be more programmable, automated, and other wise able to handle the slew of applications that are to be churned from the Internet of Everything.

Application Infrastructure

This focus on apps is the approach Cisco plans to take over the next few years. The reason? Demand. More and more users want applications that are able to perform various tasks as it allows for greater time efficiency and adaptability. Think about it, how many apps do you use on the regular basis? What do you use them for? The answer is pretty eclectic—i.e. shopping, social media, banking, etc. Whatever the usage, there is a clear demand for applications—Cisco alone estimates a whopping 77 billion application downloads in 2014. This is due to the growing number of mobile devices—the same factor reinforcing the need for the Internet of Everything. So, as the number of mobile devices increases, so does the demand for an expanded network AND applications; therefore, application infrastructure may be the best way to usher in future.

One misconception with Application Infrastructure is that it is just a push towards mobility. While mobility is a piece of the puzzle, it is NOT everything. Instead, building this Internet of Everything infrastructure with an application heavy focus will require the company to lift software defined networking and virtualization functions out from the data center and into the every day environment.

What Does It Mean For IT?

While this shift in infrastructure comes out of demand and necessity, what does it really mean for the IT industry at large? Chambers sums this up in one word, consolidation. There is going to be a brutal consolidation in this industry — brutal. Just like there was in communications, you will see the same thing in IT occur, and it will be an application economy.”

In short, those who are able to adapt with quality and speed will survive the consolidation. Those who can’t or don’t, will not.

What Does This Mean For Consumers?

This is more of a grey area. Again, Cisco isn’t announcing any type of solution. Instead, Chambers merely outlined the company’s plan and approach over the next 3-5 years. While the company plans to release their application-centric infrastructure spin in, Insieme, this November, the rest of Chambers’ presentation focused more on justifying the need for growth. Now, if you’re familiar with Chambers and/or Cisco, you’ll know they’re usually dead on with their assessments and predications. Furthermore, they understand and identify the needs of users and the industry very early on.

With all the details, statistics, and facts presented, application infrastructure looks to be a bright future for users. As such, it looks to bring a centralized and versatile operability to the network, which can be applied throughout various industries. For example, Cisco ran their own demo where a ‘Doctor” in a “hospital” was able to utilize the network to provision various services for various devices throughout various locations based off of location sensitivity of the network. This paints the complete picture for Cisco’s plan—a greater allowance for mobility, app-centric infrastructure, and a more versatile and expansive network between connected devices.

It looks as though users can only gain from this shift in the web. While this is a mere predication, Chambers has been known to pinpoint the future quite accurately—in 2006 he declared the network as the platform, a truth which has held true through the present. Ultimately, the Internet of Everything and Application Infrastructure will serve as Cisco’s map heading into the future. As the company is a mogul in its own right, their plan is sure to be utilized by a number of other parties, too.