RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – In the city best known for high-stakes gambling, Cisco chief executive John Chambers rolled the dice Tuesday on his vision of a networked future he labels as “telepresence”.

Chambers used his keynote address at the huge Interop trade show to talk about where he sees the convergence of audio, video and data from broadband to wireless is taking the enterprise.

Building off the recent $7 billion acquisition of Scientific Atlanta and its capabilities to deliver on-demand video as well as other digital technology, Chambers is pushing a strategy to help enterprises improve collaboration through telepresence. At the core of his vision is Internet Protocol-based technology that will provide a version of teleconferencing so sharp people can see subtle nuances among participants. Plus, cameras don’t necessarily have to track constantly around a room.

“Collaboration is going to be the productivity term for the next decade, and the empowerment of the employee base will drive this,” Chambers was quoted as saying by Dan Neel in a report published by InformationWeek.

How will all this happen? By blending data, networking and storage in an enterprise freed from silos.

“IP technology provides the means to blend voice, data, video and wireless networking, Chambers said,” according to Neel. “Moving security from applications to the network will spur development of more interoperable applications, and complete virtualization will mean the network decides how to deliver content to the appropriate device or screen size, he explained.”

Rhonda Ascierto, writing for Computer Business Review Online, pointed out that Chambers called telepresence a “new form of experience” that will enhance collaboration.

“You will see a difference in how you interact with your customers, your peers and your suppliers and it will be a much more personalized approach in terms of your customers,” she quoted Chambers as saying.

Unified communications and collaboration will also speed up decision making, Chambers added. “As you communicate by whatever anytime you want in any format you want, and you get the information back anywhere you want in any format you want then you see speed of decision change,” Chambers said, according to Ascierto’s report.

Crucial to Chambers’ vision is the virtualization of networks and storage, i.e. data is accessible and secure regardless of where it resides on an enterprise.

“Cisco’s push on collaboration is part of a vision of all applications becoming accessible on all devices at all times, through virtualization of storage, applications and processing,” wrote Stephen Lawson for IDG News Service.

However, Lawson noted that businesses might not embrace Chambers’ vision quickly.

“One IT manager in the audience was more cautious,” Lawson said. “Because all budgets are limited and different departments all make separate demands, the collaboration tools Cisco and others are pushing are likely to come into place one piece at a time, said Mike Mahoney, an IT manager at Xerox in Stamford, Conn.”