Supercharging a core Cisco strength: networking

At Cisco Live, cutting-edge innovations in networking, security, and AI take center stage
Supercharging a core Cisco strength: networking

Speaking at Cisco Live 2024 in Las Vegas last week, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins stressed what he hears as the No. 1 customer demand: “First and foremost, please be a great networking company.”

Because as organizations cope with complex, hyper-distributed environments, relentless cyberthreats, and mounting pressure from emerging technologies like AI, the need for great networking has never been more critical.

At Cisco Live, the company didn’t disappoint. With a theme of Go Beyond and a wave of new innovations and product announcements, Cisco promised to strengthen its preeminent position in networking — with solutions that automate and simplify infrastructure management, secure and protect vital assets, and meet the challenges of AI while helping customers realize its vast potential.

“Cisco is uniquely positioned to revolutionize the way infrastructure and data connect and protect organizations of all sizes,” Robbins continued, “and we are confident we are the right strategic partner for our customers in this era of AI.” 

Of course, a great networking company has to be a great security company, a great data company, great at AI, observability, CX, and so much more. And Cisco’s recent acquisition of Splunk, with its pervasive AI, analytics, and observability, is supercharging these capabilities. So, Gary Steele, former Splunk CEO who is now Cisco’s president for go-to-market, picked up the theme.

“We have been focused on delivering great security outcomes to our customers, and helping customers keep their environments up and running through our observability offerings,” Steele explained. “And it plugs naturally into Cisco. When you incorporate all the amazing data that Cisco has combined with the value that we can deliver from Splunk, that combination can deliver tremendous value to every single customer.”

Much of that value comes down to digital resilience, Steele added, calling it “a mission and journey that only accelerates with becoming part of Cisco.”

Steele used the example of a network issue that awakens teams in the middle of the night. It could be due to a network issue, cyberattack, bandwidth, applications, or any number of other causes.

“We need to help you figure out quickly what's happening,” he said, “but also be more predictive and be more resilient so you're not up in the middle of the night. We can identify these things before they even happen. And where we can add tremendous value, and it only gets better being part of Cisco.”

Observing, protecting, automating — across any environment

To expand on the networking innovation theme, who better than Jonathan Davidson, Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager of networking. Davidson had plenty to talk about, beginning with the critical importance of maintaining digital experiences — no matter the challenges or unforeseen circumstances.

“Digital resilience,” he said, “means that you continue to deliver a good user experience regardless of any potential disruption for networking. That means you need to have proactive intelligence, you need predictive recommendations, and if something happens to go wrong, you need to have automated remediation. And we are going to go beyond networking with security and observability for digital resilience.”

“Only Cisco,” Davidson added, “is a leader in all three of those categories,” observing, protecting, and automating across the Global Area Network — that is, the hyper-distributed environment that teams contend with today.

Davidson then highlighted a new solution, Digital Experience Assurance, powered by Cisco ThousandEyes.

“Digital Experience Assurance,” he explained, “does for the Global Area Network what GPS and Driver Data do for your driving. It gives you a clear view of the entire journey, even the parts that you do not control. It has AI native capabilities built directly into the platform to show you what is happening with your users and applications across this global area network.”

Other networking news included improvements to the Cisco Networking Cloud with the reveal of Cisco Nexus HyperFabric AI clusters. Delivered in partnership with NVIDIA, the solution helps enterprise customers build the foundation for AI. Cisco also featured improvements to the Cisco Networking Cloud platform, introducing Cisco Workflows for increased automation across network domains to help IT managers fix issues at scale.

“Together with NVIDIA,” Davidson said, “we are delivering a simple-to-deploy, cloud-operated AI-stack solution that builds on our Cisco Networking Cloud platform vision for automation and simplicity.”

Simplifying the daunting challenges of adopting AI is a key goal.

“HyperFabric takes everything that we have learned from working with the hyperscalers with AI and now is simplifying it and bringing it into the enterprise,” Davidson announced. “It simplifies the AI design, it simplifies the deployment and management, with both Cisco networking and compute. Wherever your data happens to reside, HyperFabric and NVIDIA are able to boost the performance and predictability of your AI applications.”

Securing networks for an AI future

As for security, Jeetu Patel, Cisco’s EVP and general manager of security and collaboration, announced new features and innovations in products like Cisco HyperShield, Cisco XDRCisco AI Assistant, and the Cisco Security Cloud. Again, the Splunk integration looms large.

“Cisco Security Cloud is a global cloud-delivered service that's AI powered that solves three key problems, Patel explained. “How do you protect the user? How do you protect cloud and cloud infrastructure? And how do you protect against the breach? It’s all built on a core foundation of firewall with a core fabric of AI and identity that drives every kind of decision that happens within Cisco Security Cloud. And now this is going to get even more exciting because it's going to get supercharged with Splunk.”

Of course, building a great customer relationship takes more than amazing technology. And Liz Centoni, Cisco’s EVP and chief customer experience officer, talked about the deep support customers can expect from Cisco. As well as how AI is driving that customer connection to the next level, with constant monitoring, alerts, and adaptations to the unique demands of each business.

“Imagine a world where every interaction that we have with you is not only personalized, it's proactive, it's predictive,” she said, “and it's powered by AI where we anticipate your needs and help you maximize value from your technology investments. That is the future that we're striving to create.”

Above all, Centoni stressed Cisco’s unique position in the industry — in networking and so much more. Because as Davidson concluded, “Only Cisco can help you Go Beyond with networking.”