Cisco Systems' president and chief executive officer John Chambers told attendants at the Networld+Interop that networks need to be built with an overall architecture instead of with a series of point products.
Letting people use applications wherever they are requires an end-to-end infrastructure with security built in, Chambers said.
End users should not have to know about that infrastructure, but it will be critical for the security, performance and lasting usefulness of the network. For example, security threats such as viruses will find their way past a series of individual products, he said.
Cisco dominates enterprise data networks and has been one of the few companies to succeed in multiple markets.
Cisco announced net sales of $4.6bn for the quarter, up almost 22% from a year earlier, and plans to hire 1,000 more people.
Although the economic downturn has had less impact on consumers' spending, it has hurt enterprise executives' outlook so they have not been willing to look ahead and make investments, Chambers said.
In the past four months, that outlook has improved significantly. However, "there's still a hesitancy and an unusual conservatism" for this stage in a recovery, he added.
Cisco is seeing big order gains for all of its "advanced technology" segments, new technology markets the company has entered over several years, aiming to become the number one or number two player or reach $1bn in annual revenue.
They include security, IP (Internet Protocol) telephony, storage, home networking, optical equipment and wireless.
One reason customers are embracing those new products is that Cisco knows how to integrate them into the network overall, Chambers said.
Chambers highlighted what he sees as a key role for the network in boosting enterprise productivity, but only if combined with more efficient business processes. Otherwise, productivity will go down, he said.
Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service