The Era of Technology Platforms Has Arrived
The old idea in technology was to find “best in class” technology solutions for whatever challenges an organization faced, then work to integrate them as well as possible. To the extent these tools could not be integrated, IT teams would simply manage each solution separately. A well-known email security solution from one provider might be paired with a network monitoring solution from another and a multifactor authentication technology from yet another.
Some organizations continue to operate this way, but the approach is falling increasingly out of favor. Managing dozens of point solutions is complicated, time-consuming and risky, given the potential for gaps that might exist between individual products. In its place, a consensus is emerging that businesses should seek technology platforms that combine different capabilities under a single management umbrella.
Cisco is going all in on this approach, and it’s easy to see why. The company has a deep portfolio of solutions spanning virtually every IT discipline, including networking, data center, cloud, collaboration and security.
At Cisco Live, it unveiled a series of new platforms that help unite these tools and it added new capabilities to those it already has. Throughout the event, company executives stayed on message that Cisco is a company that “securely connects everything to make anything possible.”
“For us, it really begins with the fact that this is complicated,” said Liz Centoni, Cisco’s chief strategy officer. “So, how do we help our customers cut through that complexity and simplify tech for everyone?”
Cisco Unveils Several Upgrades for Network Optimization
Cisco unveiled two new technology platforms: the Cisco Networking Cloud and Full-Stack Observability (FSO). It also unveiled Cisco Secure Access, a key new feature of its Cisco Security Cloud platform, which it introduced last year.
The Cisco Networking Cloud “will create a simpler network management platform experience to help customers easily access and manage all Cisco networking products from one place,” the company stated in a news release.
Jonathan Davidson, Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager for networking, said Networking Cloud is part of a long-term vision to “eliminate networking complexity,” arguing that “only Cisco has the portfolio, experience and partner ecosystem to bring together campus and branch, data center, compute, Internet of Things and software-defined WAN to optimize outcomes, using one networking management platform to deliver unified experiences.”
The Cisco FSO platform is “a new observability ecosystem that brings data together from multiple domains, including application, networking, infrastructure, security, cloud, sustainability and business sources,” the company stated.
Cisco Secure Access is a security service edge update to Cisco Security Cloud, which the company noted “offers frictionless access across any location, any device, and any application through one platform.”
Cisco Emphasizes the Use of AI
Artificial intelligence has been embedded in most Cisco solutions for many years, but with the increasing focus on the technology in 2023, the company decided to clarify its strategy for using AI, while also unveiling new features of existing solutions that use it.
In particular, it introduced new features within its Webex collaboration and Webex Contact Center solutions that will exploit generative AI, which uses existing content to create new content. Specifically, Webex will now provide summaries of key points and action items from meetings, while the Contact Center will equip live agents with summaries of customer interactions with AI-powered chatbots.
When it comes to its thinking on AI in general, Centoni said, “it’s a question of how do we modernize the infrastructure around applications and observability, how do we use AI in security and in immersive experiences as part of hybrid work.”