Cisco Live Event Features Observability, Network-as-a-Service, SASE

Cisco’s customer event, Cisco Live (virtual), is underway, and the company made many announcements.  We are emphasizing what we think are the most relevant, which include Observability capabilities, Network as a Service (NaaS), and SASE.  Here is a rundown of what we learned about today.

Core portfolio (includes Campus Ethernet Switches, Wireless LAN).

  • Observability.  DNA Advantage and Premier customers will now be able to run the ThousandEyes agent natively on their Catalyst 9300/9400 switches and will receive access to ThousandEyes Internet and cloud intelligence at no additional cost.  ThousandEyes Internet and cloud intelligence data is being incorporated into AppDynamics Dash Studio, AppDynamics’ next-gen dashboarding experience..   Cisco executive, Todd Nightingale, elaborated that the Thousand Eyes acquisition has been integrated into the Cisco portfolio very rapidly, and in fact, more rapidly than the Meraki acquisition.   We think that the merging of Observability into Cisco’s core products could drive partnerships between Cisco’s competitors in networking, security, and Observability.
  • Cisco Plus.  Cisco Plus offering includes Hybrid Cloud and SASE offerings initially.
    • SASE.  Cisco’s first Network as a Service (NaaS) focuses on its SASE offering.  Nightingale emphasized that its SASE focus does not mean it is de-emphasizing SD-WAN, but includes SD-WAN, cloud security gateway, and other security functions.  We see that the cloud security gateway (a cloud-based subscription offering) is a significant services capability for Cisco in that it is not a hardware function that Cisco is offering to customers to then resell to others, instead, it is a cloud-based service that Cisco is offering directly to customers.  Cisco views SASE as the combination of networking, security and analytics.  Executives from two different business units introduced SASE: Todd Nightingale (Core Networks) and Jeetu Patel (Security).  Similar to our comments about Observability, we expect that Cisco’s SASE offering will drive Cisco’s competitors in networking and security into partnerships or other corporate combinations.
    • Hybrid Cloud. The company will also offer private cloud capabilities such as its UCS server, SAN, DC networking (Nexus) and Intersight (orchestrator) as private cloud capabilities; the company has not yet announced names of 3rd partners.   The company’s entry to the private cloud as a service market has some similarities to HPE’s Greenlake offering. 
  • Intersight.  The company emphasized its digital networking building capabilities by incorporating technology from Hashicorp with its in-house Intersight capability.  We published our views on this Hashicorp / Cisco deal just a few days ago.

Security (includes Firewall, Content Security, Identity). 

  • Password-less.  The company announced its Duo portfolio now includes the unveiling of its Duo password-less authentication; the company says this capability will be available in July 2021 as a “public preview.”  The company indicated that it will also bring Duo and Umbrella capabilities “down market” and will also continue to be available to Cisco’s traditional large enterprise.  The company announced that it sees 900 million Duo-based authentications per month across its installed base.

Mass Scale portfolio (includes Data Center Switches, Optical Transport, Routing).

  • Silicon One.  The company reiterated that it has 10 Silicon One chips since its initial announcements ranging from 3.2 Tbps to 25.6 Tbps speeds.  The company claims that it has a dozen companies focusing on Routed Optical networks based on the architecture that leverages advancements relating to Silicon One and its just-closed Acacia optical technology.   Executive Jonathan Davidson highlighted the Acacia ZR and ZR+ transponder module capabilities.  Routed Optical networking offers capex, opex, and energy savings.  The company suggests that existing customers who use Routers and optical transport today can take a first step that means plugging transponder modules directly into routers, meaning the need for optical shelves can be eliminated over time.  Cisco featured spokespersons from Microsoft Azure and Lumen (Century Link) to discuss general thoughts on the Routed Optical concept. 
  • Open RAN.  The company has made investments, both disclosed and undisclosed.  The company has engaged third parties’ services to integrate and test its orchestration and transport technology with other 5G systems in the marketplace.
  • Subscriber Management.  The company introduced Cisco Cloud Native Broadband Network Gateway, which supports the integration of wireless packet core and wireline subscriber management.

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco Systems at Cisco Live on March 30, 2021