Natilik Blog

Natilik Blog – read our latest thinking on IT and Communication technology and solutions

CISCO SUMMIT: Armadillos AND Artificial Intelligence?

What do JR Ewing, Armadillos, JFK, AI Assisted Collaboration and Multi-Cloud reinvention have in common? Dallas, Texas! The host city for the annual Cisco Partner Summit 2017. I had the fortune to be there just last week and thought I would share some thoughts because as a heavily invested Cisco Partner, or indeed if you are a customer of Cisco, a regular dose of reassurance that we are collectively making the right partnering bet is always welcome.

Now, our US friends rarely let the side down in terms of laying on larger than life events. However, to see past the lights, the ‘razz ma tazz’, the excellent customer service and the copious amounts of free cookies and coffee is important. Because back in Blighty our collective goal is to make a reality of the messaging and the marketing and ensure that we are making a difference for the short term whilst also acknowledging the general swathe of market changes in the longer term. Clearly, there is a caveat that comes with all Vendor conferences/summits……….. No vendor has ever stood in front of their Partners and Press and given a less than rosy view of life and the future, and so it is possible that I have drunk the ‘cool aid’ but Cisco has a habit of spotting a Market Transition and executing so let's give them the benefit of the doubt!

 

 quote-green

MY MAIN OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CISCO SUMMIT:

quote-green

 

-         Partnering. Important as we are a Partner! Cisco are 100% committed to their Partner model and delivering all of their innovations and solutions in conjunction with and through Partners. Chuck Robbins (CEO) was the first to commit to this and the theme continued through various other sessions. It was re-iterated so many times that it did make one wonder if this had been called into doubt at some point but we take reassurance from the message and still believe Cisco leads the way in how they engage Partners and have a genuine passion for Partnering and making it work.

-         Partnering. Important as we are a Partner! Cisco are 100% committed to their Partner model and delivering all of their innovations and solutions in conjunction with and through Partners. Chuck Robbins (CEO) was the first to commit to this and the theme continued through various other sessions. It was re-iterated so many times that it did make one wonder if this had been called into doubt at some point but we take reassurance from the message and still believe Cisco leads the way in how they engage Partners and have a genuine passion for Partnering and making it work.

 

 quote-green

CISCO HAVE FALLEN BACK IN LOVE WITH NETWORKING

quote-green

 

-         Networking and Security. Cisco are back! Not sure they ever went away but the quote (IDC) was that ‘Cisco have fallen back in love with networking’. There was a genuine passion around Software Defined Access technology, their new 9000 Catalyst solutions and the Network Intuitive (reinventing the way networks are built with a theme of automation and simplicity). Developments and advancements around Cisco DNA Centre (literally a single pane of glass) to include Cisco and also Meraki (hooorahhh!) was very interesting, if not a little overdue. The continued push in security and Cisco’s number one position as the ‘least time to detect’ solution through AMP and Umbrella is still not acknowledged enough in the marketplace. Cisco sees 20 billion threats a day across the internet and so we should hope that the organisation that can see these is in a position to help us all do something about it! We believe they can.

 

quote-green

IT FEELS LIKE CISCO HAVE VERY MUCH LANDED IN THE SOFTWARE WORLD

 quote-green

 

-         Software. Cisco look, talk and are executing like a software company. This has been a few years in the making but the rhetoric is now a reality and the advancements are what you would expect from a genuine player in the Software marketplace. Annuity billing for all Software solutions coming and another large push on ensuring Partners are Software Lifecycle Services ready. Customer Success Practices, something Natilik is embracing, are becoming mainstream and expect to see a plethora of Customer Success Managers in the marketplace over the next few years. 40% of Cisco’s revenue is now recurring with $5B of deferred Software revenue, it feels like Cisco have very much landed in the software world.

‘Kubernetes’ is a new world for lots of Partners and Customers but one which I think we should embrace and understand

-         Multi-cloud – Cisco’s partnership with Google was announced at the Summit. The creation of a ‘Hybrid Cloud’ partnership bringing open cloud capabilities to the Enterprise meaning applications can be developed anywhere, on-prem or in the cloud with no disadvantage for either. ‘Kubernetes’ is a new world for lots of Partners and Customers but one which I think we should embrace and understand. No-one will know if you google ‘Kubernetes’ right now! Take a look, worth knowing.

The new Spark Meetings platform demonstration, along with Spark 70 (replaces the MX800) and AI assistance for Spark, all essentially tying in WebEx, Spark and SparkBoard capabilities was amazing

-         Employee and Customer Experience. In the old world tech speak this would be deemed collaboration solutions (voice, video, business messaging) and end user applications. Cisco’s position as the Gartner leader in the new ‘Meetings’ quadrant is testament to their evolution of Spark and WebEx. The new Spark Meetings platform demonstration, along with Spark 70 (replaces the MX800) and AI assistance for Spark, all essentially tying in WebEx, Spark and SparkBoard capabilities was amazing. Some logical and simple tweaks to WebEx as we know it today (e.g. when a meeting ends so does screen share automatically) and the full integration of SparkBoard with both Spark and WebEx was a very welcome sight. The acquisition (intent to) of Broadsoft got a lot of focus and no doubt there are some announcements to come once the acquisition is complete. How HCS, Broadsoft and Calling will all play………..watch this space. Finally AppDynamics. In isolation AppDynamics is an awesome solution, Cisco paid $3.7B for them and so one would hope this would be the case! Unlocking data and providing insight to customers is critical and there is no better platform to deliver on this in the Market. If Cisco do nothing with the acquisition then it will still remain a Market leading solution. If they integrate it cleverly into their Network Intuitive process then that would be really interesting!!

 

quote-green 

CISCO HAVE OUR/YOUR BACK ON THIS

quote-green

 

So there we go. My best shot at summarising 3 days into a single blog! In summary, as a Partner or as a customer of Cisco, I would feel reassured that they are still as astute as ever at spotting the Market Trends and have a barrage of market-leading solutions and resource to execute on it. Perhaps not all of the messaging or solutions will deliver the world beating transformation that is promised but the intent is there. I think all one can ever ask of a Partner and Vendor is that they strive to do the right things and execute, Cisco have our/your back on this I think.