Last week I attended CiscoLive in sunny San Diego--well sort of sunny, apparently San Diego was suffering from "June Gloom," which resulted in mostly cloudy days--but I digress. It was a great opportunity to hear from Cisco executives like John Chambers and get caught up on the latest and greatest from Cisco. I'll start with my thoughts from the John Chambers keynote.
Mr. Chambers stated that Cisco is driven by market transitions and by its customers. They are keenly focused on identifying market transitions and then building solutions to address them. Things like virtualization, cloud, collaboration, VoIP, video, etc., are all examples of market transitions. It is essentially how Cisco has managed to stay relevant over the last twenty plus years while many of their former competitors no longer exist or have lost their relevancy. To Cisco, the speed of change is very important. Plus organizations must instill a culture of change and a framework for innovation. Good advice for any company but especially for those companies that are very successful - today. This is what will make them successful tomorrow. This mindset reminds me of a quote attributed to Charles Darwin that reads "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." Customer focus is also very important--being easy to do business with and mapping solutions to customer problems or initiatives will be crtical for Cisco.
Based on the announcements last week, Cisco continues to evolve its networking strategy and products to map to customer problems. Cloud Connect and Cisco Open Network Environment (CiscoONE) are both examples of how Cisco is adapting to help organizations address market transitions(cloud computing and software-defined networking or SDN). One of the pieces of Cloud Connect I found particularly interesting was AppNav, which is software that enables organizations to virtualize or pool their WAN optimization technologies in the data center or cloud (IaaS). What made it even more interesting was that Cisco took a novel approach to develop this product, which resulted in a very impressive product that addresses key customer problems. This is supported by its Best in Class award from the Interop 2012 show in May. Another significant step was taken with the CiscoONE announcement where Cisco said it will open up access to all of its switches via APIs - this is referred to as onePK and will let software developers access the iOS, NX-OS, and iOS-XR. Cisco refers to this as programmable networking (this can also be under the umbrella of software-defined networking) Even though this is a proprietary API, it does mark a significant step forward in becoming more open. (Note: as part of CiscoONE, they will offer an OpenFlow based controller and switch for academic and research purposes). More on both of these later.
Now that the market transitions have been identified and announcements have been made, it is time for Cisco to execute against them, something they typically do very well.