- This year’s Cisco Live! EMEA event showcased Cisco’s DevNet initiative, which fosters cooperation between IT engineers and application developers and promises to change future networking and data center technologies.
- Cisco’s latest initiatives reflect the recognition that future network and data center architectures must evolve if they are to handle the sort of data processing, storage and analytics that will be needed in an IoT era.
At this year’s Cisco Live! EMEA event, Cisco demonstrated the extent to which it’s transforming from being predominantly a hardware supplier into a provider of software and services that help enterprises grasp opportunities in IoT. Ruba Borno, Vice President of Growth Initiatives and Chief of Staff to Cisco’s CEO, expounded on the different elements of this transformation and Cisco’s vision of positioning itself further up the technology stack to become a complete solutions provider for enterprise IoT initiatives. In order to fully realize this vision, Cisco is embracing a more comprehensive and layered approach to security, as well as increased infrastructure automation, the use of analytics to optimize application and infrastructure performance, and the full utilization of multi-cloud environments.
Cisco’s recent acquisitions of Jasper and AppDynamics, among others, support its metamorphosis into a go-to platform provider for enterprise IoT strategies. Cisco plans to use the software inherited from these two companies to equip its networking and other infrastructure components with enhanced automation and analytics-backed management.
In addition to acquiring software companies and overhauling its strategic focus, Cisco has been rolling out various practical initiatives that are designed to give momentum to its strategy. The centerpiece of Cisco Live! EMEA 2017 was Cisco’s DevNet Zone, which was uprooted from its usual base in San Jose and transported all the way to Berlin’s Messe exhibition facility for the purpose of promoting the company’s DevOps model. Launched in July 2014, the DevNet Developer Program fosters increased cooperation and knowledge exchange between the traditionally siloed worlds of IT infrastructure engineers and application developers. Through the DevNet portal, Cisco provides engineers and developers who work for its ecosystem partners with access to open APIs for a spectrum of Cisco technology portfolios; these range from networking and collaboration through to data center technology, cloud, analytics and security. This initiative is said to have spawned an army of more than 400,000 developers who are working with third-party vendors to develop customized solutions. The DevNet portal also provides a sandbox where developers can test their application software, while the DevNet Marketplace allows Cisco channel partners to monetize what they’ve built and customize the sale of these new solutions for others. At Cisco Live!, visitors to the DevNet Zone in Berlin were given the opportunity to play with APIs and see demonstrations of solutions created through DevNet cooperation.
Cisco has recognized that in order for IoT initiatives to succeed, a change must occur in the way existing IT architectures are designed, built and managed. However, this requires traditional equipment engineers and IT managers to have a deeper knowledge of developer-friendly technologies. It also requires the formation of more collaborative IT departments and Cisco’s DevNet program is intended to help nurture some of these necessary changes.
Cisco’s focus on transforming the network hinges on its Digital Networking Architecture (DNA) plan, which offers integrated network virtualization, automation, analytics, management and security as part of a single suite. With regard to data center technologies, Cisco’s focus on converged and hyper-converged infrastructure and solutions for managing hybrid cloud environments is accompanied by a recognition that future data center architectures must evolve if they are to handle the sort of data processing, storage and analytics that will be needed in an IoT era. Although there are already initiatives underway at Cisco to support data capture, processing and analytics at the edge of the network, there are undoubtedly further opportunities in this area for the vendor to exploit, including the potential offered by micro data centers and other edge processing innovations. Cisco will not be alone in tapping these opportunities however, and the company’s ongoing innovation journey must be accompanied by an awareness of similar initiatives by key rivals such as HPE and Huawei.