RESEARCH NOTE: Cisco Live EMEA 2024 Observability, Networking, and Security Announcements

By Will Townsend, Patrick Moorhead - February 8, 2024

 

Cisco used its signature Live EMEA event in Amsterdam this past week as a platform to make several announcements in the areas of observability, networking, and security. This research note will examine each category and provide insights and analysis about what is compelling—and potentially differentiated—for Cisco customers.

Observability

I continue to be impressed with how Cisco is leveraging both acquisitions and its organic roadmap development efforts to bring new capabilities to market quickly relative to other observability players. The company continues to commit significant resources to building a leadership position in the category. Specifically, Cisco announced:

  • Digital experience monitoring (DEM) that supports hybrid and multi-cloud environments with real user monitoring and session replay for deeper insights and resolution of session issues. I like the integration with Cisco’s ThousandEyes and Accedian acquisitions, which provide assurance and visibility to determine the root causes of issues.
  • Observability for Kubernetes to monitor the behavior of containers, which can spin up and down quickly and cause management headaches via misconfigurations that impact network performance.
  • Unification of observability functionality to ease management.
  • A new AIOps application aimed at simplifying monitoring, reducing alert fatigue, and improving actionable insights.
  • A natural language interface powered by generative AI to ease troubleshooting.

To facilitate its route to market, Cisco launched several new observability partner modules that allow its channel partners to offer more robust observability services, including ML monitoring, Kubernetes change management, deeper infrastructure visibility, and more. My initial assessment is that Cisco’s announcements demonstrate a commitment to help organizations de-risk operations, ensure improved experiences with new DEM capabilities, and leverage the practical power of generative AI.

Networking and Security

The convergence of networking and security, paired with the rise of generative AI, allows Cisco to deliver improved infrastructure resiliency and deeper visibility while easing network and security operations management. Cisco continues to demonstrate progress in its journey to deliver on all these fronts at cloud scale. Specifically, these announcements at Live EMEA stand out:

  • A strategic partnership with NVIDIA to address the challenges of managing and securing emerging AI workloads. The generative AI “gold rush” is presenting IT operators with a dizzying number of considerations when it comes to sizing necessary network infrastructure and determining an optimal deployment path. Building upon a partnership that has existed for the past several years, both companies will deliver highly integrated data center solutions. Cisco’s deep capabilities in networking and observability plus NVIDIA’s undisputed leadership in processors for AI makes for a powerful combination. Jointly validated reference designs should make it easier for channel partners to deliver infrastructure that is AI-optimized.
  • New integrations with Cisco Secure Access. The company continues down a path of simplifying the consumption of network and security services via the cloud. This announcement aims to deepen integrations between the Cisco Networking and Security Cloud platforms, blending secure access and secure services edge (SSE) capabilities. This effort has the potential to unify platform management as well as automate and orchestrate functionality, ultimately delivering highly resilient, performant, and secure enterprise connectivity.
  • New generative AI support for the Panoptica cloud application security solution. In 2023, Cisco set its stake in the ground to give organizations an unencumbered DevOps framework that ensures proper security guardrails. In launching its AI Assistant for Panoptica and a security and protection suite designed to safeguard large language models (LLMs), the company aims to ease troubleshooting and remediation of security issues, and to detect malicious queries, block unauthorized requests, and alert security professionals quickly and easily.
  • New offerings in identity intelligence. Identity is the new hack de jour. A staggering percentage of phishing and ransomware attacks are accomplished through hacking personas. Generative AI is fueling this fire, giving bad actors the ability to create deepfakes that can use someone’s voice and likeness based on information found online. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be considered as basic hygiene, but more needs to be done to thwart social engineering. Cisco is addressing this growing problem with new functionality that includes Smart Authentication with Cisco Duo, Smart Access with Cisco Secure Access, and Smart Threat Detection with Cisco XDR. I believe that Cisco Identity Access, which will be available in July 2024, is an important step forward, combining identity intelligence and actionable insights created through Cisco’s internal development efforts and its Duo acquisition.

Final Thoughts

Cisco Live EMEA 2024 went far to demonstrate the company’s momentum in building and delivering compelling observability, networking, and security solutions. That said, Cisco can’t do it alone, and it’s wise that the company is continuing to build upon its partnership with NVIDIA to support new AI workloads.

I also really like Cisco’s continued focus on channel partner enablement across its entire portfolio, given that the channel is the company’s primary route to market. Channel partners can choose to lead with a handful of very capable infrastructure solution providers. By making it easy to deploy new modules and leverage validated designs, Cisco is reducing sales friction and creating stickiness with large direct marketing resellers, smaller value-added resellers, system integrators, and communications and security service providers.

Will Townsend
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Will Townsend manages the networking and security practices for Moor Insights & Strategy focused on carrier infrastructure providers, carrier services, enterprise networking and security. He brings over 30 years of technology industry experience in a variety of product, marketing, channel, business development and sales roles to his advisory position.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.