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Cisco marketing effort creates unified message for data center tech

At the Cisco Marketing Velocity conference in Chicago, the company discussed a unified data center product marketing message with its channel partners.

CHICAGO -- Cisco is rallying channel partners around a unified data center marketing initiative that emphasizes analytics, automation and security.

Dhritiman Dasgupta, vice president of data center marketing at Cisco, said the company has lacked a unified message that spans its data-center-oriented offerings that range from the company's cloud-based Tetration analytics platform to its Unified Computing System product line. Cisco has dubbed its data center marketing effort ASAP, for analyze, simplify, automate and protect. Dasgupta discussed the marketing tack at Cisco Marketing Velocity, which runs through April 27 in Chicago.

Dasgupta described ASAP as "one message that connects all of our data center products. It's one story that brings it all together."

Partner implications 

The upshot for Cisco's partners? Dasgupta said the Cisco marketing initiative will help channel companies conduct strategic conversations with customers, as opposed to tactical discussions around individual data center products.

Tasha Klares, marketing manager at Force 3, a network security and data center solutions provider based in Crofton, Md., said Cisco's data center portfolio historically consisted of point products such as servers, switches, firewalls and converged infrastructure.

"The focus was on selling products, not a comprehensive data center solution," she said. "The ASAP framework positions Cisco to be able to provide customers with a holistic approach to the data center. This means reducing complexity based on the organizational problems they are facing."

Klares said ASAP gives organizations "a much clearer sense of what Cisco can achieve within the data center, whether that's running apps in a traditional or hyper-converged infrastructure, on prem or in the cloud."

Stephanie Long, research analyst at Technology Business Research, said it makes sense for Cisco to market its data center portfolio collectively, given the market's continuing shift toward holistic solutions to address customers' demands.

"Many of Cisco's peers, including Dell Technologies and HPE are already doing this, and evolving their portfolios to better align to this approach," she added.

Stanley Stevens, manager, consulting and programs at Technology Business Research, noted emerging technologies such as the internet of things and the rising adoption of cloud installations will reinforce the advantages to Cisco of unifying its data center message.

"These emerging technologies also place a greater emphasis on solutions such as security and analytics," Stevens said. 

ASAP components 

As for the components, or design principles, of ASAP, the analyze element recognizes the need to analyze the packets, transactions and data-traversing customer networks.

"Anybody running a data center ... today without real-time, granular analytics is pretty much running blind," Dasgupta said. 

Tetration helps fill the analytics pillar of the data center marketing push.

Chris Dedicoat, executive vice president of worldwide sales and field operations at Cisco, said Tetration lets companies understand the performance of infrastructure elements, whether they exist on premises, in the cloud or a colocation facility.

It's one story that brings it all together.
Dhritiman Dasguptavice president of data center marketing at Cisco

The simplify aspect aims to combat the complexity of customers installing "box after box" in what Dasgupta termed "Hyperscale envy." Simplification of data center operations paves the way for the automate component of the Cisco marketing thrust.

"Unless you can simplify things, you cannot automate," he said, noting that IT buyers within the enterprise -- from line-of-business managers to developers -- are looking for self-service provisioning.

The protection component, meanwhile, involves a change in security philosophy, Dasgupta said. In the past, security revolved around a "castle" approach that emphasized perimeter defenses. That security strategy, however, is no longer good enough at a time when applications are extending beyond the data center to the cloud, he noted.

"The applications are so fluid and volatile and move from one location to another," Dasgupta said.

He suggested a transition is in order from the castle approach to a "hotel" approach, in which each application has a secure room.

Channel partners can count on the Cisco marketing message on data center technology to continue through 2020, according to Dasgupta.

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