Cisco's Warrior Takes Center Stage: 5 Themes to Expect

| About: Cisco Systems, (CSCO)

Whether you're a Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) customer or investor, you'll soon get an in-depth update regarding the company's long-term strategic direction. Indeed, new Cisco Systems Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior is preparing to take center stage at Cisco Live, a massive customer event that runs June 22-26 in Orlando, Fla.

This is the first time Warrior will grab the spotlight at a big Cisco event. According to my sources close to Cisco, here are five themes to expect from Warrior and Cisco CEO John Chambers during the customer rally:

5. Got Any Talent?: Cisco will spend considerable time talking more about the IT talent shortage, and the steps the company is taking to address the issue. The “talent shortage” theme has been front-and-center for Cisco for more than a year.

Cisco is working on a range of strategies to close the talent gap, including opening new Cisco Networking Academies across the globe.

4. Data Center 3.0: Cisco will articulate “continued momentum” around its Data Center 3.0 strategy, notes one trusted source close to the company.

The data center update, which involves the melding of networking with virtualization, servers and centralized infrastructure, comes at an opportune time.

Cisco tactfully announced the departure of Jayshree Ullal, senior VP of data center, switching and services, on May 9. During earlier events, Ullal was the voice of Cisco’s data center strategy. In July 2007, Ullal noted that the shift to Data Center 3.0 technologies “isn’t a sprint.” Instead, she said, the strategy will play out in five to seven or even 10 years.

In retrospect, perhaps Ullal was suggesting that the Data Center 3.0 push would continue long after her time at Cisco had ended.

3. Green Machines: Yes, the entire IT world is striving to go green. But I hear Cisco will have discuss some real progress points on its green strategy.

2. Here’s Johnny: CEO John Chambers typically steals the show during these events. I hear Chambers will evangelize “the network as the platform” for the second phase of the Internet. No surprise there.

I hope Chambers will also expand on some earlier themes. In April 2007, Chambers described how Cisco expects to increasingly compete with software and Web 2.0 companies such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

How about an update, John? How is Cisco's software strategy progressing?

1. New CTO Takes Center Stage: Padmasree Warrior made the leap from Motorola (MOT) to Cisco Systems in December 2007. But this is the first time she will step onto a massive stage and share her vision with Cisco’s customers.

I met Warrior at a MuniWireless event in Silicon Valley, back in October 2007 — roughly six weeks before she moved from Motorola to Cisco.

At the MuniWireless conference, Warrior walked attendees through Motorola’s application strategy for municipal broadband networks. But portions of the presentation came off as a product pitch.

I expect Warrior to raise her game — in a big way — during Cisco Live in Orlando.

At Motorola, Warrior was surrounded by executive uncertainty and shareholder displeasure with the company’s performance. At Cisco, Warrior can focus on the job at hand, rather than external distractions.

I'll share more as Cisco Live gets started June 22.

Disclosure: none