Cisco Live 2021 offers comprehensive approach to digital transformation

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Cisco Live 2021 provided a wide array of business strategies and technical perspectives, as well as comprehensive product direction and roadmap information for Cisco’s customers and partners. The event was structured around four key customer priorities:

  • Reimagining applications
  • Empowering teams
  • Securing the enterprise
  • Transforming infrastructure

From product to innovation to leadership to optimization, ecosystems, and partnerships, the majority of Cisco’s messaging fit into these categories, with Cisco taking a decidedly “customer forward” approach.

Let’s explore further.

Reimagining applications

Delivering an engaging customer and employee experience was the primary driver here. Cisco announced full stack visibility beyond the corporate network, including the adoption of SaaS, multi-cloud, and hybrid environments. Performance visibility and actionability is obtained through the integration of ThousandEyes cloud intelligence with AppDynamics and Cisco’s networking portfolio. This integration across cloud and external networks is designed to ensure a seamless digital experience for users.

Empowering teams

The future of work is hybrid in multiple ways – locations, time zones, technology, and more. As evidence, Cisco provided the following statistics: Moving forward, 77% of employees will embrace a flexible workstyle, and even more importantly, 98% of all meetings will include some remote participants.

With Webex as the cornerstone of its strategy, Cisco is focusing on improved employee engagement. The Webex platform will add functionality, including gesture recognition and Q&A, along with interactive features such as polling to enable better meetings.

The shift in employee work to a hybrid workforce will impact business, technology, and culture. Many organizations will continue to offer remote work as an option with investments they make now positioning them better in the long-term. Cisco’s new offerings are intended to support them by optimizing the worker experience for performance, cost, and security. For example, Meraki VPN and Cisco SD-WAN provide flexible and secure connectivity, while Umbrella and Duo extend security functionality to remote users.

Securing the enterprise

Canalysis predicts the global cybersecurity market will grow 10% in 2021, and has recognized Cisco as the largest cybersecurity OEM by market share. Accordingly, a large theme at Cisco Live was enterprise security and why organizations should adopt a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture. SASE effectively combines software defined networking with cloud security to protect remote users and distributed infrastructure and applications, especially multi-cloud environments.

Security components such as Cisco SD-WAN and Umbrella fit into a SASE architecture and provide secure access to the internet and cloud applications.

Transforming infrastructure

Cisco hasn’t forgotten networking. Organizations must evolve their infrastructure to accommodate modern, cloud-native and SaaS applications. Multi-cloud and multi-app is now a standard approach, and Cisco’s strategy is to provide:

  • Continuity – A collaborative, secure, trusted workplace for employees
  • Insights – Application visibility and insights leading to action
  • Security – Secure clouds, applications, and end-to-end zero trust
  • Connectivity – Secure multicloud access and connecting users to clouds

Intent-based networking

Organizations are facing an unprecedented rapid pace of IT change with more users, devices, locations, applications, and cloud services than ever before, and the network is challenged to keep up.

The goal of intent-based networking is to apply automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and orchestration to reduce the complexity of managing and enforcing network policies, as well as traditional configuration management. Cisco’s stated strategy is “to help customers connect, secure, and automate the network to accelerate their digital agility in a cloud-first world.”

Organizations can develop automation for consistent network policy based on the business with Cisco ACI and gain end-to-end visibility to optimize the user experience with ThousandEyes. Reducing acquisition complexity and accelerating infrastructure transformation can be achieved via a Cisco EA.

Key takeaways

At Cisco Live 2021, Cisco presented itself as a company leveraging many technologies, focused on helping customers adapt and capitalize on a rapidly changing IT landscape.

Cisco’s messaging was decidedly structured around customer priorities and outcomes, with product discussion used more to show why and how organizations can succeed. Additionally, Cisco showed how it’s responding to an evolving technology environment and ecosystem. With security requirements as important as ever, the company continues to integrate security into all its solutions.

SHI has a broad and deep Cisco practice and is committed to providing solutions and services that help our customers address and execute on their key business priorities. This includes:

To learn more, read our blog post about software-defined solutions as part of an agile cloud-ready architecture.