Cisco's CEO: Tech can help businesses achieve ‘virtually anything’

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Businesses are under pressure to reimagine and re-architect their applications. Everyone is trying to build modern, cloud-native applications, regardless of whether they run them in a public cloud or private cloud. They all want cloud architecture, because empowering teams has become more important than ever.

These were the words of Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco, speaking during his keynote at Cisco Live 2021 last week.

Although it's been a difficult year for many, and it still is in certain areas of the world, Robbins said he is optimistic because of what all Cisco’s channel partners and teams accomplished last year. Cisco’s technologies, and the way the channel used them to help organisations and individuals work from home and remain productive, in turn helped organisations remain resilient.

Technology was, and always will be, at the heart of business strategies, going forward, he said. “We learned last year, based on technology and based on all of your capabilities and everything that you do every day, the world is truly ours to shape.”

A hybrid future

Addressing about 100 000 channel partners and customers who logged into the global virtual event, he said "we are at a unique point in time where we have proven that technology can help us achieve virtually anything".

The future of workspace is a hybrid one, and Robbins said everyone needs to work together to make teams productive and feel included in this new world where some team members will be remote and some will be in conference rooms. 

While traffic used to go from the edge to a private data centre, now traffic patterns can be random from one day to the next, he said.

At the same time there is "pressure to deliver this cloud experience". Everyone is thinking about how to deliver a digital organisation that's truly dynamic while at the same time creating a trusted workplace in this new hybrid work world.

"How do I deal with network transformation and security at the same time? Those two need to come together in ways that they have not in the past. Seamless cloud management, flexible consumption and automation, insights, observability... We really need to make the move to enable the applications; to truly gain knowledge from things that are going on in the infrastructure... And we need to deliver inclusive collaboration."

Robbins says Cisco is addressing all these challenges through its "six strategic technology pillars", namely:  

1. Delivering secure agile networks.

2. Optimising the application experience.

3. Enabling the future of work.

4. Building the Internet for the future, merging of optical and routed networks.

5. Capabilities at the edge, distributing apps to the edge of the network.

6. End-to-end security.

He said during Cisco Live, partners will be discussing a slew of challenges. “We have to rationalise 5G, and what the use cases for 5G are, and then decide where Wi-Fi 6 can be used. Apps and workloads are moving increasingly to the edge, which leads to our simple strategy, which is focused on helping users connect simply and securely, and automate to accelerate security in a cloud-first world.”

An inclusive future

Robbins said Cisco's aim is to be organisation that can power an inclusive future for all. 

“We believe we can do this through our technology because as more and more people on a global basis get connected, there is the opportunity. We can deliver education. We can give them access to markets. We can deliver health care. Our technology, by definition, helps bring people into this global ecosystem. And we also believe that our corporate social responsibility efforts, and our focus in our communities, will help create this future.”

Technologists, stressed Robbins, have an opportunity to participate in rebuilding the world, and this will take some frank, honest conversations with everyone at the table. 

"It's not just about the technology, but seeing the journey of being transformed - let's build a future where everyone is seen, everyone is represented, and everyone is valued,” he concluded.

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