Turning IT Up at Cisco Live 2021

This week Cisco held its annual customer event, Cisco Live, for its global audience. With over 100,000 attendees from over 200 countries, this may be one of the best attended Cisco Live events. Despite most organizations having to work from home over the past year, it certainly hasn’t slowed down the innovation and productivity from the Cisco engineers. The theme of this year’s event was Turn IT Up, something that organizations across the globe have been doing since the pandemic hit and Cisco was quick to call out the IT heroes that worked tirelessly to transition to work-from-home environments and enable businesses to continue operations.


To help those organizations thrive in this new environment, Cisco launched an impressive number of announcements presented by a highly talented and diverse group of Cisco executives. The major announcements included providing its customers choice in how they want to consume Cisco solutions with an as-a-Service program called Cisco Plus, bringing out an expanded SASE architecture to cover endpoints to the cloud, delivering greater visibility into distributed cloud environments by integrating AppDynamics and Thousand Eyes, enhancing Webex, improving security with passwordless authentication using Cisco Secure (Duo), and deliver an inclusive internet of the future with its silicon and optics.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these announcements:

Cisco Plus. Described as everything you already love about Cisco, Plus or It’s Cisco, Plus so much more. Increasingly organizations are looking to shift on-premises infrastructure, software, and services purchases from traditional perpetual licenses to as-a-service consumption-based models. ESG research highlights that almost half (48%) of respondents to this year’s Technology Spending Intentions survey would prefer a consumption-based model, and those numbers only increase if respondents are currently using cloud services or have a cloud-first strategy. The decision to create this was an easy one. Cisco needs to provide customers choice in how they consume on-premises solutions. The goal is to deliver all Cisco application, compute, network, observability, security, and storage offerings as a service with unified subscriptions that simplify consumption and use. Obviously, creating network-as-a-service will be a top priority, especially to support distributed cloud environments (on-prem, multiple public clouds, and edge locations). Expect NaaS-based SASE solutions later this year, but users in North America and select European countries can take advantage of the first offer, Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud. Cisco also stated these services will be available via the CX cloud later this year as well. Cisco Gold Partners will play a key role in delivering these as-a-service offerings.

SASE. The secure access service edge framework has been gaining a lot of momentum and certainly a tremendous amount of buzz in the news lately. Given the highly distributed nature of modern business applications and workforces, it is well warranted. Cisco’s goal is to help simplify these complex, distributed environments by bundling core Cisco network and security offerings that cover the endpoint to the cloud into a single offer. This starter kit would include networking, remote access, cloud security, ZTNA, and observability solutions. Over time, Cisco will expand the functionality to provide DLP, RBI, and malware detection with Umbrella as well as simplify SD-WAN integration with major cloud providers and interconnects like Alibaba, AWS, Azure, GCP, and Megaport. Plus Cisco is planning on integrating ThousandEyes into their offering – delivering visibility into the internet itself for end-to-end visibility. Duo will be leveraged to deliver zero-trust network access. The bottom line here is that SASE is a rapidly evolving space, with plenty of confusion surrounding what is part of the framework. Cisco has done a nice job articulating what is included in their initial SASE architecture and has provided a clear roadmap to guide users on their SASE journey.

ThousandEyes, AppDynamics, & Cisco Switch Integration. With applications becoming distributed across on-premises data centers, multiple public clouds and edge locations, the ability to observe the connections to these applications is becoming increasingly important. The internet is now an integral part of the corporate network and organizations need to be able to quickly and efficiently determine what is causing an application performance problem that negatively impacts customer experience. By integrating ThousandEyes with App Dynamics, Cisco has extended the application path visibility from application (wherever it is) to the user device (wherever it is) to ensure positive customer experiences and simplify problem detection and resolution. The ThousandEyes Internet and Cloud Intelligence will be integrated with AppDynamics Dash Studio and Catalyst 9300 and 9400 series. This capability provides organizations with the ability to effectively manage applications in a distributed cloud environment and deliver optimized experiences.

These were just a few of the significant announcements made by Cisco to enable organizations to accelerate their digital transformations, enable the future of work (hint: it will be hybrid), and power an internet that will be inclusive for all. Not surprisingly, in addition to the technology innovation, Cisco remains committed to diversity and helping the community, and has been long before it was popular to do so. Chuck Robbins reported on their pledge to help one billion people globally by 2025 and he was able to report 527,000,000 people have already been helped. I wasn’t a math major, but that certainly sounds like they are ahead of schedule!

Moving forward, Cisco is focused on six pillars to enable organizations to thrive. They include:

  • Delivering secure, agile networks
  • Optimizing application experiences
  • Enabling the future of work (hybrid)
  • Building the internet for the future
  • Enhancing capabilities at the edge
  • Providing end-to-end security solutions

Many of the announcements this week mark the start of a journey, especially in regard to SASE, the inclusive internet, and delivering Cisco solutions as-a-service. I look forward to tracking their progress over the rest of this year. The programs are big and ambitious, something we have come to expect from an organization committed to imparting positive changes – for both technology and our community. To learn more about these announcements and many more, check out www.ciscolive.com.

Topics: Networking