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The Future of Networking, Available Today

I am Soni Jiandani, SVP of Marketing for Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit. Together with a team of veteran leaders and engineers, we continue to disrupt markets to drive industry transformation. Our latest disruption is focused on leapfrogging Software Defined Networks (SDN) with a holistic approach to the future of networking: Application Centric Infrastructure, or ACI for short.

My blog is timed with announcing the shipment of ACI – namely the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) with ACI mode for the Nexus 9000.  But this is not a corporate sales blog. My intent is to foster an open discussion about the future of the networking industry.

ACI: A key enabler to driving fast IT

We have spent the past few years to gather the best and the brightest engineering minds focused on one simple goal:  to design an infrastructure for our customers that meets the needs of applications today and in the future. These applications require dynamic, agile, fast, secure, scalable, reliable infrastructure that is automated as a native, baseline requirement.

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India: Transforming Promise into Performance

Seven years ago, many people (including my mother-in-law) thought I had made a career-ending decision to accept a high-risk assignment and relocate to India. My mission:  build from the ground up Cisco’s second headquarters, a Globalization Centre East in Bangalore focused on innovation, talent and partner development that envisioned 10,000 employees in three years, including the top 10% of worldwide talent. My charter included developing a world-class technology campus that also served as a showcase for incubating and advancing Smart City services worldwide, and to become the most relevant ICT company in India.

Was it the right decision?

Wim #1Although half a world away from Cisco’s corporate headquarters in the Silicon Valley, I thought the new job was still full of great promise. India was and still is the world’s largest democracy, had a growing talent pool, a zest for innovation, a co-operative government, aspirational middle class and a potentially huge economy purring along at 8% annual growth.

In four years, we partnered with national and local governments as well as an ecosystem of commercial businesses to architect and develop a fully networked campus.The Smart + Connected Community inBangalore integrated building systems with IT systems and applications onto one IP network, enveloped by artfully designed buildings and collaborative work spaces.

Today, the 1-million-square-foot Globalization Centre East campus employs more than 11,000 people, houses Cisco’s Research and Development, IT and customer support teams with the best talent in industry. The campus also meets my original charter Wim #2as the incubator for validating our industry-leading Smart + Connected Communities, especially Smart Cities, which today has projects on nearly every continent worldwide, encompassing more than 90 engagements.

All that has been extremely rewarding to see, but was it the right decision?

We achieved every critical objective except one: growing ICT technology throughout India itself. In my four years of living in India and after a number of subsequent trips revisiting there, I now realize that the promise and opportunity of India can be unpredictable.  After several years of nearly double digit growth, India’s economy spiraled down, experienced high inflation, a weakening rupee, allegations of government corruption and financial policy decisions that spooked the international investment community.

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Securing What’s At Stake with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) has made a profound impact on our lives.  However, it also means that more personal information and business data will be passed back and forth in the cloud, and with that comes new security risks, new attack surfaces, and new kinds of attacks. And with an unprecedented number of companies staking the future of their businesses on the pervasive connectedness that the IoT world promises, business leaders need to empower their technical teams to create secure IoT networks.

Most organizations deploy disparate technologies and processes to protect key elements of their businesses, including the information technology (IT) that is typically focused on information protection and operational technology (OT) charged with managing control networks that support critical infrastructure, as well as physical spaces.  I recently encountered a company that implements more than 80 security products for different tasks.  Many of these systems don’t work together, which in turn limits the level of security this company can achieve.

In an IoT environment, we need to accommodate the priorities of both IT and OT networks, balance physical safety and security requirements, and also begin to implement cybersecurity solutions to equally protect all networks from attack.  Solutions must be put into place to protect the device, control levels of the network, and the data contained and shared. We need to shift our mindset from considering each object in isolation, to looking at the whole. Attackers are taking a holistic view of the IoT and defenders must do the same.

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Launching Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence in Europe

I recently wrote about how we are extending Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR)  and our open innovation strategy beyond Silicon Valley through local incubation partners in Chicago, San Diego and Berkeley.  Our presence in these innovation hubs will enable us to discover, influence and learn from new ideas and talent at early-stage startups with potential to disrupt our industry.

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of Cisco EIR Europe, extending our program to a non-U.S. innovation hub for the first time.  Cisco EIR will be located initially in Vienna, where we plan to launch a small cohort of early-stage European startups by January 2015 – to be supported & incubated by Cisco – drawn from across EMEAR.  As with Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley, we will look for game-changing entrepreneurs in IoE, security, Big Data/analytics, Smart Cities & other transformational opportunities that are in Cisco’s strategic line of sight.  Also as in our Silicon Valley program, the startups will be supported by Cisco engineering & product teams as well as our EMEAR partner ecosystem.  The Vienna-based program is intended to serve as the beachhead – our “Phase 1” – for a broader EU-wide footprint for Cisco EIR.

Key to our success is how we leverage the startup ecosystem that already exists in Europe.  To this end, starting in Vienna, we have partnered with Pioneers, a leading startup community organization in Europe.  More partnerships are in the works.

I know all of you will agree innovation knows no national boundaries.  Europe, with its deep entrepreneurial talent, large market and history of innovation, presents a unique opportunity for usEurope is also one of the key regions for our Smart Cities – as you saw from our recent announcement of a new Smart Cities initiative in Copenhagen, following similar projects in Barcelona, Amsterdam Chicago and Hamburg.

We are thrilled to forge relationships in the European startup community – and support entrepreneurs as partners in open innovation.

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Cisco Invests in Developers

One of the marvelous things about community and teamwork is that it allows us to engage with people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and work together, we can create something in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is the philosophy of our Cisco® software developer strategy.

As Cisco adds powerful software and services to our market-leading hardware portfolio, we recognize that developers are critical to creating value for our customers. With the advent of so many market transitions—mobility, cloud, the Internet of Everything (IoE), the application-centric infrastructure; driving and accelerating innovation-- the value of our networked platforms is greatly enhanced by the applications that run on them.

Cisco is enabling customers to unlock intelligence from the network using applications, and help drive new business models and benefits including improved customer experiences, faster time to market, and increased efficiencies.

To fuel software innovation, Cisco has created DevNet, its new developer program, to enable an open community of software developers – including ISVs, customers and Systems Integrators/Channel Partners – to help them easily and rapidly build Cisco-enabled applications to sell and use, on top of Cisco APIs to enhance or manage Cisco networks and platforms. Cisco is encouraging the adoption of APIs across our products and fostering integrations with third-party products.

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