The rise of software turned out to be a key theme at last week’s Cisco Partner Summit 2016.
Indeed, software is at the center of Cisco’s push to virtualize traditionally hardware-based functions and provide more complete offerings through its channel partners. Offerings such as the Cisco ONE Software licensing program bundle a range of capabilities that customers can switch on as needed. Channel partners can consult with customers on Cisco ONE’s software components and deployment. Other Cisco software moves include cultivating relationships with ISVs and encouraging developers through its DevNet program. Coverage of those developments is available here.
But that’s not the entirety of Cisco’s software gambit. Antone Gonsalves, news director for TechTarget’s Networking Media Group, covered a different software angle in his Cisco Partner Summit coverage: network automation tools. The article, Cisco pledges a quicker rollout of network automation tools, discusses Cisco’s bid to have software absorb the day-to-day networking chores that many companies currently undertake manually on hardware.
Gonsalves points to Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) as a major part of its network automation strategy. APIC-EM is software that offers automation, abstraction and policy-based management. In one conference demonstration, Cisco showed that APIC-EM can be used to deploy internet of things (IoT) devices faster. Cisco also provides automation via Meraki cloud-based software, oriented toward wireless LANs.
Putting the network automation plan into context, Gonsalves writes:
Cisco’s focus on network automation tools is in response to companies shifting away from the specialty hardware that has been the vendor’s core business for more than 30 years. Companies are replacing the gear with software that makes networks more adaptable to changes in business applications.
Cisco’s network automation strategy dovetails with the channel’s perennial interest in achieving higher levels of efficiency. Managed service providers, for example, rely on an array of automated tools to manage networks and devices with fewer staff members. The resulting labor cost reduction cuts to the channel partner’s bottom line. Margins are dwindling, particularly for highly commoditized services such as network monitoring, so automation plays an increasingly important role in a partner’s success.
Other summit news
IoT and the channel — The Cisco Partner Summit also saw considerable focus on IoT. The company, since its acquisition of Jasper earlier this year, has started articulating an IoT strategy. And channel partners are part of the picture. Cisco executives encouraged summit attendees thinking about the IoT space to get to know the operational technology buyers within their customers. Cisco reckoned the majority of IoT purchasing will be conducted through line-of-business organizations as opposed to IT shops. You can read more about Cisco’s IoT partner discussion on TechTarget’s IoTAgenda site.
New collaboration pricing — Cisco unveiled a per-user, per-month licensing plan for its cloud and on-premises collaboration tools. Cisco Spark Flex Plan offers customers to acquire a mix of tools under one contract. In meetings, for example, customers can deploy such options as Cisco Spark Meetings, WebEx or Cisco Meeting Server. Channel partners may benefit from more predictable revenue. Read SearchITChannel’s coverage here.
Professional services changes — SearchITChannel also covered developments at Cisco Services, which has expanded its roster of optimization services and added new SKUs to its solution support lineup. Read on for the details here.
Storage server debut — Cisco’s UCS S-Series, a storage-optimized server category within the company’s Unified Computing System (UCS) product line, targets big data, software-defined storage, object storage and data protection, according to the company. The product could play a role in channel partners’ backup and disaster recovery services.
Endpoint protection — At Cisco Partner Summit, the company also unveiled Cisco AMP for Endpoints, which the company said combines prevention, detection and response capabilities.