Jun 17 2022

Cisco Live 22: Three Key Takeaways

Hybrid work, end-user experiences and the future of the network were major themes at Cisco’s annual user conference.

For many attendees of the first in-person Cisco Live event since 2019, which ended June 16, the most memorable aspect may have been the general bonhomie that permeated the week. It was, after all, a kind of family reunion: Cisco has attracted a loyal customer base, many of whom have been coming to the annual conference for a decade or more. The declarations of gratitude for being able to gather together in a single place — in this case, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas — were in great supply.

So, in that respect, this Cisco Live was different.

When it came to the technology and business trends that drive the content of the sessions, demonstrations and news announcements, however, it was the usual Cisco Live. This year, four trends stood out in particular.

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1. Cisco Wants to Be at the Center of the Hybrid Work Revolution

Cisco is convinced a long-term, fundamental shift in the way people work is underway and irreversible, and it believes it is uniquely positioned to help businesses adapt.  

Jeetu Patel, Cisco's executive vice president and general manager of security and collaboration, declared that “hybrid work doesn’t work yet,” because too many employees are stuck with uncomfortable working conditions and balky connections that harm their productivity and drain their mental energy.

Cisco, however, has a portfolio of collaboration hardware and software that’s both comprehensive and growing, including home office routers, cameras and desktop hubs for videoconferences to its popular Webex collaboration platform. Cisco is adding a number of artificial intelligence-driven upgrades to Webex, including several designed to improve the experience for remote attendees of hybrid meetings: making them look and feel (to the remote attendees) like everyone’s remote, for example, and adding a virtual whiteboard that everyone can use.

“Just like the Kindle is a purpose-built device for reading a book, we’ve built purpose-built devices for making sure you can engage with your work experience from home,” Patel said.

READ MORE: Find out why digital transformation must accelerate to meet customer expectations.

2. Cisco Will Focus on Organizations’ End Users

Cisco made clear that it will amplify its focus on optimizing end-user experiences, including both customer and employee experiences.

In addition to its hybrid work solutions, it introduced new applications that business can use to manage and secure their own apps. The offerings reflect Cisco’s acknowledgement that the world has entered the “application economy,” said Liz Centoni, Cisco’s chief strategy officer and general manager of applications.

“We care more about application program interfaces today because they give us the ability to leverage services from anywhere and everywhere,” Centoni said. “You can add new services or drop services without taking your application down. It’s a beautiful new world.”

To help IT leaders operate in this new world, Cisco is offering two new applications: Calisti and Panoptica.

Calisti is described as a “service mesh manager,” allowing businesses to see the health and performance of their entire application environment at a glance, then dig deeper to test how an app will likely perform under additional stressors, such as a traffic influx.

Panoptica is an application security tool that shows the vulnerabilities of all applications, based on the well-known Mitre Attack Framework, and makes it easy to take actions to remediate vulnerabilities.

Stay updated on the latest updates and insights from BizTech.

3. Network Security and Uptime Remain Key to Cisco

Cisco was founded as producer of routers, switches and other networking technology. In fact, its annual conference was originally called Networkers before it became Cisco Live.

Cisco’s embrace of other technology categories hasn’t dampened its enthusiasm for networking. It’s introduction of WAN Insights — under the umbrella of its subsidiary ThousandEyes, which it acquired in late 2020 — was described as  the first step in Cisco’s broader vision of delivering “predictive networks” technology; that is, monitoring solutions that can tell you what’s likely to happen in your network, and suggest fixes, instead of just giving you data on current activity.

“For years we’ve been working on different types of AI to analyze what’s happening in networks,” explained Todd Nightingale, Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager of enterprise networking and cloud. “And for the past couple of years, we’ve been trying to take the next step and look at predictive intelligence that doesn’t just analyze something that went wrong, but actually tries to predict what might go wrong in the future.”

Executives said ThousandEyes would become its companywide network intelligence platform, and that the concept would soon roll out to areas of the network beyond SD-WAN.

The company also took the occasion to tout its new Cisco Security Cloud, originally unveiled a week earlier at the RSA Conference. Security Cloud is a Cisco version of security access service edge, which the company described as a “multiyear strategic vision for the future of security.”

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