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Boston Consulting Group Names Cisco to its Top 50 Most Innovative Companies List

I’m pleased and proud to report that Cisco was named this week as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This marks the third year in a row that we’ve been included on this prestigious list alongside other industry innovators like Apple, Google, and Tesla. In all, we’ve been included in nine out of the last ten reports.

I’m even more pleased to see how well our engineering direction aligns with the criteria that BCG highlights as defining the most innovative of all companies. Those criteria are:

1. The Rising Need for Innovation Speed.

The Internet-fueled transformation of industries is happening at incredible speed. From hospitality to health care, TV to telecommunications, our customers are calling upon us to help them out-wit, out-pace, and out-innovate potential disruptors. I’m exhilarated by how our engineers are rising to this challenge.

Take the service provider industry, for example. This is a market that’s under incredible pressure to drive new revenues by rapidly delivering communications and business services securely with greater agility, automation, and simplicity – at a lower cost.

With a project called ‘xSpeed’, Cisco delivered powerful software innovations for cloud networking that precisely met service provider needs in just 13 weeks. The xSpeed team had autonomy to execute and they delivered first demos within three weeks. xSpeed is one of our internal startups, called Alpha’s, combining the speed and agility profile of a startup with the resources and scale of Cisco.

2. Strong Innovators are Lean Innovators.

BCG calls out the power of small teams. I couldn’t agree more! The culture I have been driving within engineering is to have my engineers “Think Big, Act Small” while we provide the autonomy to execute. Another great example of our success here is the rapid rise of Cisco Spark, our team collaboration application that is transforming the way teams stay connected. That team has experimented, taken risks, dared to break glass – and customers are loving the outcomes! On that note, watch out for more exciting Spark news at our Collaboration Summit next week!

3. Enabling Technology-Enabled Innovation.

We have encouraged our customers to embrace digital, connected business processes. We’ve also led the world for three decades in connecting our own business processes, from the way we close our books to the way we empower our sellers. How we innovate has become technology-enabled too. Today we’re creating end-to-end engineering workflow automation and enabled continuous integration for our agile development efforts. The result is that we’re moving faster than ever. We have reduced technology build time by 50 to 60% in many cases. And we’ve created iterative processes to enable us to review internal demos every two weeks. How’s that for technology-enabled innovation!

4. The Prerequisites of Profitable Adjacent Growth.

Pursuing market adjacencies has always been a Cisco strength. Today, more than 40% of our product revenues are generated by businesses outside of switching and routing. And we’re aggressively pursuing more areas of innovation, including Edge Computing, data analytics at the edge, and the Internet of Things.

Cisco engineering is maniacally focused on creating innovation that matters to our customers. And I’m proud to see our efforts recognized in this report. It’s a great accolade to the 22,000+ engineers who are powering Cisco’s Innovation Engine every day!

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Job One: Securing IoT

Recently, I participated in the panel on Internet of Things (IoT) security as part of the Automation Perspectives media event hosted by Rockwell Automation, just prior to Automation Fair 2015 in Chicago. It is clear that the ability to deal effectively with security threats is the No. 1 make-or-break factor for IoT adoption. With this reluctance to implement IoT, companies will not benefit from the growing number of powerful IoT use cases that are emerging across all industries, which includes the digital revolution in manufacturing, where there is an identified 12.8 percent profit upside over three years for manufacturers that digitize.

IoT is now part of the very fabric of industry and the public infrastructure, including such essential services as transportation, the power grid, the water supply, and public safety. When these systems are compromised, the damage can go far beyond financial loss. Some examples in years following the Great Recession:

  • 2008 – A 14-year-old Polish boy hacked a local tram system, disrupting traffic, derailing trams, and injuring 12 passengers
  • 2009 – Due to a failure in the automated control system, a Washington D.C. Metrorail train struck the rear of a stopped train, resulting in death and injury
  • 2014 – An overflow of wastewater at a water treatment plant was due to suspected unauthorized employ access

In recent years, there have also been hacks on nuclear power plants, transportation systems, and connected cars. No one wants their company to show up on the front page of the paper as a cyberattack victim. In addition to the physical impacts, attack vectors on IoT security can cause losses that are less immediately perceptible—but very real and lasting—including downtime, brand damage, breach of trust, and theft of intellectual property.

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Executing on Our Vision and Strategy: The Future of Networking for an Application Centric World

We shared our vision for the future of networking over a year and a half ago.

Today, we continue to execute on our vision and strategy. Our customers and partners continue to derive the value of these innovations to the fullest potential.

We are extending our leadership in SDN with the most complete solution portfolio today, driving choice in automation and programmability for our customers. Solutions based on open APIs, standards and a broad ecosystem for three approaches: programmable networks, programmable fabrics and a turnkey approach with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI).

Cisco ACI continues its focus on three primary areas: (1) automation through policy; (2) consistent support for physical, virtual and containers; and (3) open, standards-based with embedded security. Add a centralized pane of management, scale, and a broad and deep ecosystem, and you have 1100+ satisfied customers, and the 2015 Best of Interop in SDN category (my sales plug…).

The future of networking is here. We’ve created an infrastructure that is hypervisor agnostic, with the most advanced security enforcement capabilities on the market today. Manage your entire fabric with a familiar user interface. And manage policy across any endpoint group – physical, virtual, and containers with a consistent security posture.


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Building a Developer Ecosystem

This is part of a series on the evolution of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud platform, exploring the technical and design principles behind its unique architecture.

So far in this series my colleagues have talked about various elements of our Cisco Collaboration Cloud platform. Rowan mentioned its origins and the problems we’re trying to solve. Jonathan discussed our approach to architecture for a platform that delivers innovative experiences for companies of all shapes, sizes, and deployments. And Jens hit home on user experience (no surprise from the guy who owns all of our user-facing apps).

My platform is about the platform itself. I believe that simple and open APIs unleash the power of a platform in ways that accelerate workflows and business processes, that result in driving user engagement.

I’m the new GM responsible for the Cisco cloud collaboration API strategy. My team cares most about three things when it comes to evolving our platforms for developers:

A Great Developer Experience: First and foremost, our goal is to make our APIs easy-to-learn and use. Developers want APIs to be comprehensive, yet simple so they can focus on their own applications rather than the complexity of a platform. We’ve gone to extreme lengths to make our APIs elegant, abstracting away the complexities of the underlying platform.

But even the smartest coders need help so our Tropo APIs are surrounded by handy quickstart guides, sample codes, and examples written by our support team, who are developers themselves. Our APIs are hosted on a free, open portal and enhanced by Cisco DevNet training and sandbox resources. Most important, we’re always available to chat. You can easily engage with us through a variety of channels including industry events and social media. Read More »

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A New Security Paradigm Needed to Support the Internet of Things

Shutdown. Cleanup. Restart.

This “incident response” approach to cyber security was designed primarily for enterprise networks, data centers, and consumer electronics. It companies perimeter-based protection that uses firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to prevent security threats.

When threats penetrate perimeter-based protections, human operators typically shut down the compromised system, clean up or replace the compromised files and devices, and then restart the system.

Next is forensic analysis. This, too, requires intensive human involvement to harden existing protection mechanisms and develop future remediation measures.

However, as we move into the next phase of the Internet—the Internet of Things (IoT)—this security paradigm won’t be adequate because of changing form factors and use cases.

To succeed, we need fog computing. This will extend cloud computing (including security) to the edge of an enterprise’s or consumer’s network. Much in the way cloud technology enabled the Internet, fog will enable an array of secure IoT possibilities.

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