Cisco Live's theme this year -- "Let's Go!" -- highlighted the company's vision of the future. The event made clear where Cisco's priorities lie: reimagining applications, hybrid work, transformation of infrastructure, enterprise security and sustainability. But will Cisco be able to execute?
Cisco's vision is evolving from focusing on infrastructure to addressing the challenges in the modern application space. The announcements from Cisco Live 2023 aligning with this vision fell into several key areas:
- Cisco Networking Cloud. Intelligent tools intended to unify network management experiences across the portfolio.
- Security service edge. Secure hybrid work tools, including simplified security for IT users.
- Cisco full-stack observability (FSO) platform, including digital experience monitoring (DEM). General availability of the Cisco FSO platform, which lets customers build application ecosystems on an open, extensible architecture.
- Cisco cloud-native application protection platform. End-to-end security monitoring, analysis and remediation to build, deploy and run secure cloud-native applications in distributed, multi-cloud environments.
- Security and collaboration. Harnessing generative AI technology, such as large language models, across Cisco's security and collaboration portfolios to help organizations drive productivity and simplicity.
- Sustainability. New partnerships with sustainable data centers and advanced energy monitoring through Webex Control Hub.
- Strategic partnerships. An enhanced portfolio to adapt to customers' preferred buying models and emerging managed service provider opportunities, headlined by AT&T's MSP partnership on SD-WAN and Webex.
Impacts of Cisco Live on cloud-native modernization approaches
With these priorities set, Cisco is looking to help organizations reimagine applications.
Cisco announced general availability of its FSO platform, an announcement that included new use cases in a single consumption model. Cisco's new bidirectional integration between AppDynamics and ThousandEyes supports customer DEM and closes observability gaps with rapid, actionable recommendations and insights.
What does this mean for organizations and end users? Research from TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group showed that organizations are at various stages of maturity when it comes to observability. Organizations can address business problems using many different approaches, from point solutions to full platform approaches. The market maturity varies, and evaluating different approaches for solving a given problem tends to be confusing.
Many organizations are not yet at the point of realizing how a platform approach could solve such problems. However, Cisco's present and future approach could help address today's observability challenges and grow with organizations as needed.
Cisco's focus on connecting applications and workloads is related to security as well as connectivity.
When connecting internet applications, Cisco uses Umbrella, SaaS applications, private applications and traditional applications. Connectivity is covered under the protection strategy but also lets organizations bridge the gap between the past, present and future states of applications across every platform.
Modern applications are not monolithic, and the ability to connect across distributed clouds is more important than ever. With 94% of organizations having stated that they run on two or more clouds in Enterprise Strategy Group's recent cloud-native research, the ability to connect across locations is often viewed as critical.
The FSO design principles center openness, extensibility, scalability and flexibility. By offering FSO, Cisco promises to provide optimal and secure experiences that bring together data from multiple operations domains and provide real-time insights.
These insights enable organizations to focus on data in areas such as revenue, user experience, risk and cost. But this is not the only focus: These insights can also reduce time to resolution, minimize tool sprawl and break down silos, thereby reducing friction across infrastructure, applications and the cloud.
DEM unites observability and networking intelligence. From an application operations perspective, metrics and integration across the environment are provided in real time to understand the relationships among applications and hybrid clouds, connecting application and networking operations. This, in turn, promotes visibility into application dependency monitoring.
Looking ahead: What's next for Cisco?
There were a lot of announcements at Cisco Live 2023, and I touched on only a few of the ways Cisco is pursuing directions such as cost optimization, operational efficiency and overall organizational modernization.
I see Cisco's vision as a step in the right direction, but the company has a lot of work ahead to make this vision a reality. In particular, Cisco needs to educate the market on how to effectively use its new tech stack, as well as providing a staged approach to address organizations' different levels of maturity.
Many organizations are still fragmented and siloed. There are benefits to the platform approach, but it might be more than what some companies currently need -- although, that could change as organizations grow over time. That value will need to be realized, and educating the market will help Cisco realize its vision.