Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins says networks must change to meet the demands of modern businesses.

Jun 11 2018

Cisco Live 2018: In Keynote, CEO Robbins Says Networks Must Change Fundamentally

In a multicloud world, networks must get smarter, more secure and intent-based to meet modern business needs.

In a world where everything is made possible by networks, Chuck Robbins says, networks are going to have to change in fundamental ways. Robbins, the CEO of Cisco, told the 25,000 attendees of Cisco Live 2018 that his company is striving to build “the network’s next act,” which is to evolve into an intelligent and secure platform for delivering business outcomes.

"The network has to become a secure platform that enables you to help your organization achieve its strategies. We have to have the network do more than it's ever done before,” Robbins said.

The reason is that more people are becoming connected to machines, and more machines are becoming connected to each other.

Robbins noted that about 400 million more people became connected to the internet last year, and some 2.1 billion machine-to-machine connections were made. Another 27 billion such connections are expected in the next five years, he said. For the networking professional packed into the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., it all adds up to “tremendous opportunity, but also chaos.”

Much of that chaos comes in the form of security threats, which continue to grow daily. The CEO noted that Talos, Cisco’s cybersecurity threat intelligence network, is now blocking 20 billion threats every day. “I say that number and people say, ‘Yeah, 20 billion.’ But think about that number: 228,000 threats just happened in the last second. That’s the level of activity that’s flying around these networks.”

Because of that, Robbins said that security can no longer be thought of as a network add-on. "Security has to start foundationally in the network," he argued. “It just has to.” He said about half of web traffic today is encrypted and that 70 percent of threats are using encrypted traffic. For that reason, "you need a single security architecture that's based on lots of robust threat intelligence," Robbins said.

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Partnerships with Google Cloud, Kubernetes

Robbins also introduced Diane Greene, the CEO of Google Cloud, with which Cisco announced a partnership last year.

Greene said the partnership is already delivering positive results for its early adopters, particularly in four ways: Network engineers are finding it more effective to develop business applications in the cloud, where they are able to take advantage of disruptive technologies in a way that is non-disruptive to the operations of their businesses. The relationship with Cisco also modernizes the developer environment, allowing them to operate up to 10 times more productively. The operations professionals get “a consistent environment that can be easily monitored,” Greene said, and for security, “it’s huge to have one, consistent model that you’re running everywhere.” 

In May, Cisco announced support for Kubernetes, the popular container management program, across Cisco CloudCenter and Cisco-owned AppDynamics. The company says this partnership will allow organizations to “create and modernize their applications in the multicloud era.”

“It is abundantly clear that networks will power the future,” Robbins said. “But I don’t just mean the technology networks that we build together. I’m also talking about networks of people working together, networks of hospitals and healthcare systems, networks of communities and cities, and networks of machines.”

Finally, responding to questions in a session with journalists after the keynote, Robbins referenced the recent turbulence between the United States and several of its important trading partners and allies, but declined to offer a strong opinion on the subject. He said “everyone will be affected” if hard feelings “turn into a full-on trade war.”

Read articles and check out videos from BizTech coverage of Cisco Live 2018 here


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