The Game of Thrones (GOT) fan in me was hoping to meet the mascot for Network Intuitive, Peter Dinklage, at the Cisco Partner Summit in Dallas. Even before Google and Cisco announced their partnership, Google was ensuring I see the video often on my online excursions. While Peter wasn’t there, there was enough to keep me enthralled. In the opening session, Chuck Robbins quoted IDC, “Cisco has fallen in love with networking again,” and this sums up my reactions to the announcements.
Here are some of the highlights:
Architecture-driven security posturing: Cisco has taken an architecture-based approach to security following AVVID, which was a successful GTM strategy. The architecture has three focus areas including Networks, Endpoint, and Cloud. While they have specific products in each area, the strategy of cross-tower products such as Talos, Umbrella, Advance Malware Protection (End Point and cloud), etc. afford a larger picture. Cisco claims that customers with this architecture were not impacted by WannaCry and believes that the 100 Billion+ DNS queries Umbrella sees a day was a significant advantage. Finally, Cisco recently closed a billion-dollar quarter in security business, so fear definitely seems good for their business.
Networking for services and not bytes: While cloud offerings from public cloud providers seem similar, different clouds have different capabilities. Legacy applications will not die out anytime soon. Hence, multi-cloud is indispensable to growth. Eyal Manor (Google) clearly articulated that the objective of the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) partnership with Cisco is to have a consistent environment across in-premise and cloud. Smart solutions and cutting-edge network services are the way forward.
AI in collaboration: One of the most interesting developments in enterprise network collaboration is Cisco Spark™ Assistant — claimed as the “first enterprise-ready voice assistant for meetings.” Cisco is differentiating Spark AI from general purpose voice assistants like Alexa by focusing on meetings. They are leveraging machine learning technology from recent acquisition of MindMeld and building speech recognition and natural language processing to make the meeting experience more intuitive.
In phase one, they are introducing features like joining meetings with voice interactions with AI. Combining this with facial recognition, they eventually want to implement smart solutions such as auto transcription, follow-up, and attendee suggestion. Network services must evolve with the growing needs of the industry.
Cisco and VMWare want to control the bits and bytes being exchanged between subsets of humans, machines, and things. Both these titans of the industry, one is a venerated elder and another a challenger with a lot of spunk, look forward to make this impact.
VMWare's acquisition of SDWAN player VeloCloud, which closely followed Cisco's acquisition of Viptella, clearly shows that the fight will spill beyond the data center. With players such as Microsoft and newer ones like Arista playing along, the enterprise network has become one of most exciting areas.