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January 30, 2018updated 31 Jan 2018 4:21pm

Evolution, not revolution, for Cisco and the network

Simplification may not steal the headlines, but the singularity and flying cars won't happen without it.

By James Nunns

“It’s all about making it simple, unlocking the power of data and asking the network to take better care of us,” said Todd Nightingale, SVP/GM, Cisco Meraki, at Cisco Live in Barcelona.

Simplification may not steal headlines, neither will unlocking the power of data, but they will have an impact on the day to day lives of IT teams and of the businesses that rely upon that technology.

Cisco knows that its product announcements made at the conference aren’t necessarily game-changing, at least not in the same way an entirely new product would be, but the announcements are impactful.Evolution, not revolution, for Cisco and the network

Simplifying IT’s life frees them up to do other things, more valuable things – it’s the same sales pitch that cloud technology had. Cisco’s trying its hardest to remove the ball and chain and simplify the lives of IT teams as part of its transition.

With 30+ years of networking expertise behind it, Cisco certainly has the pedigree, but like other long-standing tech goliaths, it’s having to adapt to a new world.

The Network Intuitive is the company’s big play for rejuvenation, a reinvention of the network, and an evolution of a networking company to one that is forward looking, predictive instead of reactive, and simple rather than complex.

Cisco Live is a reflection of these changes. An hour long keynote, rather than a three hour marathon that tests the alertness of even the most ardent employee, and future gazing – but with a purpose.

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It’s common for tech companies to point out the wonderful things that could become reality, whimsically looking at how magical our lives will be before telling everyone to buy their products, but for Cisco there seems to be a bit more steel to their future gazing.

With the world faced with the prospect of a global population of 9.7 billion people by the 2050’s, which would require the resources of two Earth-sized planets based on current consumption levels, Rowan Trollope, SVP & GM, IoT and Applications, Cisco, said: “We will not be able to have things like clean air, water, food, without an advanced technology infrastructure.”

Evolution, not revolution, for Cisco and the network

“How will we get there?” Asked Trollope before highlighting the stark reality that there isn’t really a choice; “we’re doing it because we have to do it, there’s not really a choice.”

If the world wants all the headline stealing advancements that are being promised them then it needs the tech industry, and the tech industry needs developers and IT teams that have time to innovate. Simplification may not steal the headlines but it’s vital if we want to move past just keeping the lights on, to things like the singularity.

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This, of course, is not the only requirement. Security is frankly in a shambolic state, businesses remain embarrassingly unprepared, and it’s an innovation blocker. With Cisco reporting that 71% have concerns over security stopping innovation, and 40% of CIOs having halted mission critical projects due to security concerns, it’s clear that a lot of progress needs to be made.

Cisco perhaps stands a better chance than most when it comes to removing some of the burdens and security issues that hinder innovation, but it’s a company that is reinventing itself and that, like everything else, takes time.

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