My Cisco Live “Road Trip” concludes its fourth and final day. For those who think trips to San Diego are all glitter (!!!!), picture the ten plus hours spent inside a convention centre each day embracing the latest and greatest messaging from the world’s leading networking vendor.
It was interesting to hear Padmasree Warrior (Cisco CTO) still refer to herself as a “Technology Geek”, that’s definitely not me. I have an expectation that technology implemented well will work so am less interested in the how or even the why. I am compelled to find ways to make technology enhance the human existence and experience (in both work and play) which means it has to be relevant to the outcome expected or even fundamental to it. Technology for technology sake is simply a waste of money, but more importantly a waste of time (you can recoup lost money but can’t recoup lost time). To that end Cisco Live equips, energises and inspires me to think differently about the challenges faced by customers both now and in the future. If I do my job which is to listen to, understand and advise customers, Cisco can continue to design and build technology I expect to work.
Presenting live to large audiences is an extremely difficult skill that can be taught / learned (but it’s not easy). Practice does make perfect (or at least better), but some are far better than others. As mentioned in the blog earlier this week, John Chambers nails it for me. Every word he says is scrutinised across the world, the audience size is often unmatched and again he uses minimal on hand notes but presents so so well. Padmasree Warrior has potentially one of the most difficult and coveted roles in IT as the CTO of Cisco but manages to deliver the most complex messages in an effortless and highly entertaining manner. And lastly the new kid on the block Chris Young Senior Vice president for security on the biggest of stages at his first Cisco Live sailed through the security keynote. Really great presentations by all that will be interesting and educational to view on replay.
Wednesday night saw the now obligatory trip to a stadium for the evening customer / partner gathering (common with US events as the “in town” stadiums are normally so good), and resulted in a walk across the road to San Diego’s Petco Park. For someone from the UK aware that some of our well known sports stadiums (Wembley, the Emirates, Old Trafford to name a few) are pretty good it’s always an eye opener to visit US stadiums and find even average venues are often as good as our best. The welcome event was an entertaining evening of food, more food, more food, beer and more food (Ok a few live performers too). As a non drinker I succumbed to way too much Crackerjack popcorn and sadly had to cry off early due to my increasingly suspect knee.
I am well known as someone who doesn’t fanfare the cloud journey. As a realist when discussing the cloud impact, I make it relevant when it delivers the business outcome required but not as a silver bullet to everything. The Cisco cloud messaging of the week with an emphasis on the network as the real enabler of cloud success is highly encouraging. Cloud computing (current industry version and definition) is an on demand service consumption and delivery model but it’s often forgotten without a secure, performant, resilient network, no cloud outcome whether public or private can be realised. The Cisco cloud play is taking a business eye view of the network and how it securely connects users, applications, systems and organisations to unlock the benefits of a cloud like approach. In the Cisco strategy “placeholder” platforms now seem absent and it is now clear to see how the addition or adoption of appropriate Cisco cloud connect solution stacks take an organisation closer to cloud reality. As an increasing amount of information about Cisco Cloud connect is released I would encourage you to invest the time to really understand it.
I can’t conclude my Cisco Live roundup without a few messaging takeaways (there were many more than this but the list the follows worked for me)
- Cloud – Cisco cloud connect, CloudVerse and Cisco cloud security will take up many press inches over the coming months. The cloud connector strategy and alignment with Openstack can if executed correctly simplify and accelerate the use of enterprise cloud provisioned networked services.
- ISE & BYOD – Identify services engine could be a real silver bullet for the broader enterprise BYOD challenge which is greater than basic connectivity of a mobile or tablet device. With access, authentication, remediation, MDM awareness, management and context, ISE could be an essential BYOD networking and security first step.
- Security – Chris Young the new SVP for security is adding warp speed to the Cisco security playbook. New solutions, increased integration with the wider Cisco story and alignment with the customer agenda has put Cisco back on the security map.
- Intelligent Networks – A catch all for all that is good in the Cisco solutions portfolio that when implemented correctly and “business aligned” delivers an intelligent network that will underpin and propel the intelligence of an organisation. Expect to see increased messaging around the intelligent networks concept.
- Business Video – The rise of business video has been a false dawn a few times but played a major role in the success of Cisco Live. Digital signage solutions presented content and session information throughout the conference centre, educational sessions were captured live via standard Telepresence camera installations and keynote sessions were recorded and broadcast quickly for all to engage with. Business Video is more than conferencing.
Enterprise organisations now face some tough decisions. It’s a topic I spent long periods of time in deep thought at Cisco Live. In this generation of IT it’s quite difficult to find really bad networking and security products due to commonality of chipsets and manufacturing techniques, but easy to find badly implemented solutions. It’s increasingly hard to find really poor technologies but easy to find poorly implemented and aligned solutions. That makes the role of Computacenter as a vendor independent, highly accredited, market aware and personnel rich organization even more important than ever before. Organisations no longer have the luxury of time to try and fail but recover – in that period the competition can capitalise on even short term absence and deliver and equivalent customer satisfying solution. Computacenter is perfectly positioned to leverage the messages radiated at Cisco Live of cloud, business video, multi platform integration, intelligent networking, compute & security to add Computacenter best practices and deliver personalised solutions to an increasingly challenged customer. And as Cisco also highlighted an ecosystem approach where relevant partners are leveraged to maximise the customer outcome, the whole approach aligns with validated Computacenter strength as the industrys leading infrastructure systems integrator with one of the richest enterprise vendor portfolios in the industry.
In summary Cisco Live continues to be a great event whether in the UK or US. For the deeply technical person no door is closed with everyone from Cisco press book authors to the most distinguished technologist on hand to answer the most cryptic questions (and extremely keen to do so). For business and strategy types like me, the executive interaction is very useful as is the opportunity to discuss go to market and customer specific outcomes with peer personnel within the Cisco team.
Just like my last time at Cisco Live US I leave with more than enough ideas and opinions to take me though until the next year.
Homeward Bound …
Until next time
I am fortunate to be in San Diego for the annual Cisco Live 2012 customer / partner conference. The weather in San Diego is pleasant but somewhat dull, quite the opposite to the Cisco Live event. We may be in austere times but that seems to be absent within the San Diego convention centre with circa 17000 attendees and over 120000 interacting with the event via online means. There are product and solutions breakouts that cover the full IT spectrum and the use of standard Cisco (formerly Tandberg) Telepresence cameras to record the circa 200 sessions for future playback is a clever touch and validation of a real world use case.
The John Chambers keynote was as inspiring as ever. If you have never witnessed a Chambers presentation live, it’s impressive how he wanders between the stage and floor and presents for over an hour without an abundance of cue cards or prompting devices (check the online recordings). He covered the last year for Cisco which many had deemed Cisco’s “Annus horribilis” but with the results painting a different picture from the external view of many. Yes, Cisco faced challenges but with market leading sales performances, streamlining or internal operations, relentless focus on the “customer” and the now legendary Cisco drive to capitalise on “market transitions”, a stronger Cisco has emerged.
Does this mean Cisco will have things their own way again and totally dictate the market agenda, unlikely in the midst of a market moving at warp speed with new competitors appearing daily. But this Cisco seems to be correctly aligning less with the “next best thing” and more with the use of the “intelligent network” and an integrated eco system of solutions to help organisations utilise technology to unlock “business next generation and beyond”. As expected cloud featured heavily but not with the all too common “more of the same” approach. Cisco is taking the challenge and opportunity presented via the cloud approach to IT services very seriously and continues to present a pragmatic and compelling cloud strategy with far more of the “how” and less of the “hype”. Other solutions areas continue to compete for top billing in what many still deem is a “networking” company with mobility, video and security areas of major focus for Cisco.
No Cisco Live would be complete without a glut of product launches and the new UCS E series blade for the ISRG2 branch router is a clever and welcome addition to the solutions stack. The addition of real world high performance compute power in the highly innovative ISRG2 will drive down the cost and increase performance / flexibility of remote site or branch IT service delivery. A new area of focus is the Cisco “Connected Industries” play that hails the arrival of a whole new business unit and product range focused at industry specialised environments that includes connectivity for city utility vehicles, industrial systems and enabling machine to machine communication via Cisco technologies. Look out for a growing range of Cisco enterprise switches, access points and devices in new form factors optimised for previously unfamiliar environments like ATMs or buses on the move.
I encourage you to scan the web for the mass of Cisco Live 2012 information that will be arriving thick and fast. There is little I have seen to date that is earth shattering but certainly the new reenergised Cisco now looks more like the organisation that dominated the networking landscape for many years. This looks like a company primed and really for the next journey enterprise customers face but equipped with a strategy and solutions stack that is perfectly placed to succeed.
Now where is that sun San Diego is famous for.
Until next time