UPDATED 17:16 EDT / JUNE 12 2023


Three insights you might have missed from the Cisco Live event

The mantra of networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. was well understood long before Cisco Live 2023 kicked off in Las Vegas last week — future-proofing in an increasingly hybrid world.

But such a vision posed some big questions: How might artificial intelligence disrupt best-laid plans? And what might Cisco’s plan to respond to the future look like?

In a wrap-up commentary of the event written for SiliconANGLE, Zeus Kerravala (pictured, right, at bottom), principal analyst at ZK Research, wrote that Cisco had rolled out the “most comprehensive set of announcements that I can remember” at this year’s event.

“They spanned the entire product set, but had a singular focus of raising the value of the end-to-end Cisco platform,” Kerravala wrote. “Accomplishing this would add value to both Cisco and its customers.”

In addition to commentary from Kerravala, theCUBE industry analysts John Furrier and Dave Vellante (left) discussed the road ahead and the broader solutions being built during SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio theCUBE’s coverage of the event. (* Disclosure below.) 

Here are three key insights you may have missed:

1. The execution of the platform approach will be crucial

When it comes to companies that differentiate on ease of use, Furrier raised the example of Apple Inc. during an analysis with Kerravala, which is now worth nearly $3 trillion.

“Furrier theorized that if Cisco can pull this off, it can be the next trillion-dollar company. Cisco currently stands at about $200 billion in value, meaning $1 trillion would indicate a fivefold increase,” Kerravala wrote in his wrap-up commentary. “Can Cisco get there? Only time will tell, but the one thing I do know is that it won’t achieve this without the evolution to a platform.”

The shift in thinking also applies to the company more broadly, in an effort to move beyond a perception of Cisco solely as a networking company, according to Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at TECHnalysis Research LLC.

“They are inherently involved with the creation and the delivery of applications. This stuff happens all over the place, and it’s making those network connections happen and then monitoring them … that is really their key to success moving forward,” O’Donnell said.

Part of what was revealed at this year’s Cisco Live event was the company’s vision for multicloud network and security, with a goal to unify its network and security offerings, in part, to enable developers to build on its platform.

When it came to the company’s message on simplification and complexity, Cisco received high marks, according to Vellante.

“Now, it’s got to play out over the next several years,” Vellante said. “To me, they announced three superclouds. They announced the networking supercloud, a security supercloud and a full stack observability supercloud, which sort of weaves through the other two. Now, over the next couple years, we’re going to see those things come together.”

In addition to that theme of simplicity, Furrier said he felt as though unification was another big part of Cisco Live — that even though the company used to have unified as a part of their compute model, in this case they were thinking bigger with unified platforms.

All of it together represents a big shift for the company, according to Vellante.

“Cisco’s in the process of moving from a product culture to a platform culture. From push the next feature to let the ecosystem and the customers guide us as to what features we want to enable on the platform,” he said. “That’s a different mindset, different thinking. The mindset can’t be understated. It’s the culture.”

Here’s the complete video analysis with Dave Vellante and John Furrier, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Cisco Live event:

2. Announcements geared toward building broader solutions

Networking professionals often keep a close eye on Cisco Live, which often includes a number of product announcements. This year was no different, but most were geared toward building broader solutions, as Kerravala wrote in his wrap-up commentary.

During Cisco Live, the company rolled out upgrades to Panoptica, a cloud-native security development platform. Panoptica emerged out of Outshift, a Cisco initiative aimed at exploring new frontiers in cloud through research and open-source project contributions, along with new software development. Panoptica ensures security thanks to its end-to-end capabilities, covering areas from runtime to deployment, according to Vijoy Pandey (right, at top), senior vice president of Outshift at Cisco.

“It does everything from how, what and where in the application security space with the context and prioritization of attack parts,” he said. “Now, Panoptica is also tackling runtime security, deploy time security, as well as develop time security, because, again, it needs to be end-to-end. You can’t just look at runtime and forget about the developers. That’s where the friction is.”

That security market is, of course, large and fragmented, a reality that spurred Cisco’s new Security Cloud, which is a generative AI-driven approach to cybersecurity.

“The attackers are getting more sophisticated, they’re getting more coordinated, and our defenses are getting more isolated because of the point solutions,” said Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager of the Security and Collaboration Business Units at Cisco. “That just doesn’t make any sense. It should be the other way around.”

The company is also utilizing AI to incorporate features, such as noise isolation and voice optimization, into Webex to enable enhanced telepresence, according to Snorre Kjesbu, senior vice president and general manager of collaboration devices at Cisco.

“We’ve been working on machine learning and AI and had those features out in our products since 2016. We just launched a brand new product this week here at Cisco Live, which is the Room Bar Pro … it gives us 20 times the AI, machine learning capabilities that anyone has had in the past,” Kjesbu said.

Here’s theCUBE’s complete video interview with Snorre Kjesbu:

3. Some are looking outside the box when it comes to automation

In an effort to bring automation to the factory floor, automobile manufacturer Audi AG has sought to revolutionize its production processes through the implementation of a smart factory.

“We wanted to go down this smart factory route. At some point we figured out, ‘Hey, we need to change something,’” said Henning Loeser, head of the Audi Production Lab.

That’s where the P-Lab comes into play, according to Loeser.

“We’re the group of nerds that get to play around with technology and figure out, hands-on, is this helpful for us in production or not?” he said. “[People in the data center] introduced us to the concept of hyperconverged infrastructure, CI/CD pipelines and all of that.”

The company didn’t want to throw away all of its equipment just to change a protocol.

“We needed to figure out … how do you tunnel a field pass protocol that’s key for automation through a Layer 3 network to a hyperconverged infrastructure, that then does the compute and gets the data back down to the shop floor so that it does what it’s supposed to do? That was quite a challenge,” Loeser said.

Audi collaborated with Cisco to address part of its needs, with its eyes toward its goal of a more technologically advanced manufacturing environment. In addition to Audi, Cisco Live was an opportunity to hear from other companies that have incorporated Cisco solutions into their offerings, including cruise line operator Royal Caribbean Group. The company implemented a full-stack observability approach, utilizing Cisco’s AppDynamics.

The company had a challenge regarding customers informing the company that their website was down or that they couldn’t make cruise bookings, according to Alice McElroy, director of IT service management at Royal Caribbean.

“We started this journey of wanting to simplify and figure out, ‘How do we use tools to help us get out of that?’ We turned to [AppDynamics] at that point,” McElroy said. “We went through that transformation, and as we got AppDynamics in place, we were able to reduce the number of people that it took to resolve issues. We got great results in our mean time to resolution.”

Here’s theCUBE’s full interview with Henning Loeser:

To watch more of theCUBE’s coverage of the Cisco Live event, here’s our complete event video playlist:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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