“I’ve been with Cisco for 23 years, and I've seen a lot of innovation,” Cisco’s Jeff Sharritts said in a Cisco Live 2023 keynote address last week, “but let me tell you, the caliber of innovation that we’re now launching is unlike anything I've seen in my 23 years here at the company.”
Sharritts, the company’s executive vice president and chief customer and partner officer, went on to spell out the sheer scope of that innovation — including everything from full-stack observability and AI-driven security platforms to data-center transformation and integrated network management.
But throughout the event, held in Las Vegas, the role of partners was top of mind. Cisco has carefully cultivated its partner ecosystem for decades. And it plays a key role in all innovations, offering key perspectives on products, solutions, and customer needs — as well as direct input and innovations of their own.
Simplified, platform-based security was but one response to customer and partner needs, as Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s SVP for global partner sales and general manager for routes to market, explained in a Cisco Live keynote.
“We developed an end-to-end security strategy because that’s what partners and customers are looking for,” he said. “It just makes their life easier. They no longer want to rely on disparate solutions. Because with the increasing amount of different solutions, we needed to decrease the complexity.”
‘Zero Trust and zero friction’
Cisco’s AI-driven Cisco Security Cloud is already answering the call, by empowering security teams, simplifying operations, and increasing efficiency. With this week’s announcement of Cisco Secure Access, the company is expanding on those capabilities for highly distributed hybrid work environments. This security service edge (SSE) solution seamlessly secures and connects end users, wherever they may be.
“The all-new Cisco Secure Access is the single experience for connecting from anywhere to anything that customers need,” said Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager of security and collaboration, said at a Cisco Live keynote. “We make sure that it is done with Zero Trust and zero friction.”
Speaking of partners, Apple worked with Cisco to integrate Secure Access into its operating systems. And later this year, iPhone, iPad, and Mac will have native support for network relays.
“Combined with Cisco Secure Access, enterprises will have a secure and seamless remote access solution,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of enterprise and education marketing, “to do their best work from anywhere, on the best devices for business.”
As part of the Cisco Security Cloud, Cisco Secure Access leverages capabilities from the rest of the Cisco security and networking portfolio. Cisco partner World Wide Technology, is excited about the reach, scope, and simplicity of this new solution.
“As a Cisco partner, we are really excited about the direction Cisco is taking with the launch of their Cisco Secure Access solution,” said Neil Anderson, area vice president, cloud and infrastructure solutions at WWT. “With Cisco Secure Access our customers gain a simplified way of accessing both private, cloud, and SaaS applications private and internet resources, while transparently securing against threats and boosting user productivity while reducing frustration.”
FSO, platform based and improved by partners
Also at Cisco Live, Cisco launched its new Full Stack Observability Platform, along with key contributions from partners. The FSO Platform is another case of simplicity converging with expanded capabilities. And it’s a key advancement in Cisco’s accelerating FSO strategy, which already includes world-class solutions like AppDynamics and ThousandEyes.
“We built this platform to be open, extensible, and API driven,” Liz Centoni, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and general manager, applications, explained in her Cisco Live keynote. “We want to bring the ecosystem along and give you the flexibility that you need. We built this platform natively on open telemetry, for scale, for performance, and for streaming data as well. We can help you consolidate to fewer tools, collect data from any source, and become that single source of truth in your environment.”
And, Centoni stressed, “making this platform extensible and unlocking our partner ecosystem was so very key to us from the day we started designing it.”
“You now have vSphere observability and data modernization from CloudFabrix,” Centoni continued. “It generates insights and recommended actions across a hybrid infrastructure and the containerized application stack. You have fintech from Evolutio. This gives you business insights by monitoring KPIs based on data ingested such as payments and credit card authorization. And then there’s capacity planner and forecaster from Kanari. It provides that visibility into time series data, with risk factors enabled by predictive ML algorithms.”
For Centoni, those partnerships loom large.
“I’m delighted to say that we have these three powerful applications that are developed by our awesome partners,” Centoni concluded.
Mobility for the hybrid work era
Together with another iconic partner, AT&T, Cisco announced its latest breakthrough in mobility solutions for the hybrid-work era. With the new solutions, including integrations of Cisco’s Webex Calling and SD-WAN with the AT&T mobile network, users can expect a seamless mobile-first solution from wherever they choose to connect.
Today, mobile phones are critical business devices. And enterprises need connectivity solutions that are flexible, reliable, and secure, not to mention simple to manage. The joint AT&T/Cisco solution will reduce costs, by eliminating the need for fixed business lines. And it ensures the most clear, reliable calling with simple yet powerful security.
“Mobility is key to enabling hybrid work. Businesses want a seamless and reliable communication experience,” said Mike Troiano, AT&T’s senior vice president for product and pricing. “At the heart of our collaboration with Cisco is a shared vision to empower organizations with secure connectivity, unmatched reliability, and deep network expertise. By deeply integrating our technology, businesses can be assured their communications are built on a solid foundation. Together we are unlocking new levels of productivity, agility, and connectivity — enabling teams to thrive in the modern work landscape.”
It's a great example of the innovative problem solving that results when two longtime partners combine their technical expertise with a relentless focus on customer needs. The new AT&T Cloud Voice with Webex Go solution will be available later this year through US-based Cisco partners.
Along with last week’s other announcements, it’s a sign of great things to come from Cisco’s vast and varied partner ecosystem.
“It’s only through our partner ecosystem that we can fully deliver on customer expectations,” Cisco Oliver Tuszik stressed at a Cisco Live partner roundtable. “Cisco cannot do it alone.”