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“Clear and Differentiated” Video Wins the Day    

MQ for group video systemsSometimes when the essence of something is so eloquently captured, there’s no need say it any differently. That’s how I felt when I read Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Group Video Systems report. In it, we feel Gartner confirms Cisco’s position as an established leader in the group video systems market who offers “a clear and differentiated set of devices, with form factors now available for virtually any meeting space.”

I have a theory on how we achieved a “clear and differentiated” product set – by finding the sweet spot between feature innovation, beautiful design, ease of use and deployment, and cost effectiveness. Concurrently, we’ve enhanced our infrastructure to make multiparty conferencing easier and more affordable. And we’re continuing our work to enable video interoperability in the cloud, especially with Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms. These are the hallmarks of our current portfolio and instrumental in our ability to gain market traction in large-scale deployments.

But beyond strengthening our own competitive position, I believe our strategy – bringing to market video solutions at the right quality and value – helped to encourage video adoption and growth for the industry overall. As we reported last quarter (FYQ3), we saw a 60 percent year-over-year unit growth. This is in share gained and also market expansion. That’s great news for Cisco, but it also serves as a good bellwether for the video market as a whole. The appetite for visual communications is clearly growing, and that’s good news for everyone.

What we’re seeing in Gartner’s most recent report has also been validated to me over the past 18 months since we’ve refreshed our entire video endpoint portfolio. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about the design, capabilities and direction of our product portfolio. So, between these two points of validation, it feels really good to know we’re delivering products that are having a positive impact on the market.

Let me know how our video products have positively impacted your work life – especially in clear and differentiated ways.

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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Gartner Recognizes Cisco as a Leader for UC for Midsize Enterprises

gartner image 6_15Cisco positioned highest in “ability to execute” among Leaders in the first ever Gartner Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications for Midsize Enterprises, North America.

Many midsize organizations are seriously exploring solutions to replace maxed-out, expensive-to-maintain, and/or end-of-life PBXs. They’re weighing what they may need to support their future communications. This new Magic Quadrant from Gartner, published in May, is the first to look specifically at the unified communications requirements of midsize organizations with between 100 and 999 employees.

Phone System or Full UC&C Suite?

Many midsize organizations talk to us about deploying a new phone system. But most I talk to are balancing a much wider range of evolving challenges.  For example, those may include how to:

  • Empower an increasingly mobile workforce
  • Transform team working
  • Increase employee engagement

It’s important to consider vendors that not only fulfill your initial needs, but enable you to evolve. You need a solution that will scale as you grow and your priorities change. We feel that Cisco Business Edition 6000, which Gartner evaluated, features all the essentials. Read More »

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Gartner Recognizes Cisco WAAS as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization

I’m very excited and proud to announce that Gartner has placed Cisco into the Leaders quadrant in the Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization. We believe this accomplishment reflects the substantial progress Cisco has made in developing and executing on its vision for the Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) with Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) over the past three years – a record that we feel clearly demonstrates Cisco’s ability to compete in this space.

Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization

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*Source: Gartner (March 2015)

The timing couldn’t be better

The analyst research and press coverage tells us loud and clear that the WAN is hotter than ever, and for good reason: mobility, cloud and the digitization of the enterprise are changing how we consume and deliver applications. Even the applications themselves are changing, as we’ve seen with the rise of a whole new class of bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive mobile apps and video. Read More »

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Ringing in 2015, the WebEx Way

Happy New Year! As I return from the holidays and begin the year ahead, I’m energized and excited about all the amazing accomplishments we achieved with WebEx in 2014. Many recollections come to mind that I’d like to share with you. And I have exciting news for 2015 — already! More on this in just a minute…

WebEx is really at the core of everyone’s work life. With over 60 million users and more than 1 million meetings a day, we really impact how people work and live. It was just a little over a year ago that I started leading the Cloud Collaboration Applications team at Cisco. When I started, I challenged the WebEx product team with a new goal to dramatically improve our already great web conferencing tool. A key element of this goal was a focus on simplicity. Making WebEx simple in addition to enhancing functionality was the target. Bottom line: It is our mission to delight every WebEx user and make their work life more productive.

The New WebEx

My team took this challenge to heart and made significant product changes in this direction. In October 2014, we launched the New WebEx that comes with a new clean intuitive interface, improved web landing pages that make it easier to join online meetings, much faster meeting load times, better video layout, and wideband VoIP audio for better audio quality. Read More »

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Network Access Control Sure Isn’t What It Used to Be…

Chances are you might be reading this blogpost on a device other than a laptop or desktop computer.  I’d also wager that the device you’re using to read this post handles double-duty – that is, you use it for both work (e.g., checking email, reviewing confidential documents) and play (e.g., Vine, Flappy Bird, social media).

You’re not alone.  Everywhere you turn, you’ll see someone using a smartphone or tablet to be productive – both on corporate and non-corporate networks, for example, a coffee shop’s guest network.  For enterprise IT, this means that the scope of managing an “enterprise network” has really expanded beyond controlling user access to a company intranet to controlling user access to company data across the “extended network” – wherever and however employees choose to do that.

The increased risk due to a larger “attack surface”, fundamentally changes how you approach access control and security.  Traditional Network Access Control (NAC) was technology that, while complex and complicated to deploy, worked well enough when enterprise IT controlled the intranet and the procurement of allowed devices.

However, as the Enterprise Mobility, a.k.a. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), phenomenon accelerated to become the new corporate norm, traditional NAC wasn’t as effective anymore, due to technology that was overly complex to scale with an overarching need for multiple 802.1X supplicants that generally targeted on more “traditional” endpoints like Windows PCs. As a result, enterprises turned to mobile device management (MDM) platforms as a new way to secure just those mobile devices.  These MDM solutions were definitely easier and less expensive to deploy and manage than NAC and offered a tangible security ROI.

Even today, many organizations continue to use MDM (and its successor, enterprise mobility management or “EMM”) as a bit of a security silo to secure and manage these devices.  However, as is implied, this strategy has a couple of caveats:

  1.  MDM/EMM can enforce device policies (e.g., PIN lock, encryption, whitelisted applications) but offers zero enforcement capabilities for actual network access policies – e.g., restricting corporate network access to financial databases or sales document repositories. The device may be secured, but network access is potentially wide open.
  2. Obtaining 100% full compliance with installing/configuring the MDM/EMM agent on endpoints is nigh impossible, since the MDM/EMM solution works in isolation from other security solutions. Thus, compliance relies heavily on end-user cooperation and participation, which makes it highly likely that non-compliant devices could gain access to the network. From there, who knows what might happen, if the device is compromised.

The net-net here is that enterprises that leveraged solely MDM/EMM to protect their devices and networks are potentially achieving only part of their security objectives.

Fortunately, network access control platforms have seen a renaissance in the past few years and have evolved substantially.  In my last post, I highlighted a recent white paper that discussed how NAC is evolving away from simply basic access or admission control and transforming into a more sophisticated set of controls for endpoint visibility, access, and security – technology dubbed “EVAS” by some. Unlike its overly complex and complicated ancestor, the newest generation of NAC solutions (or EVAS) utilize advanced contextual data gleaned from a number of different sources – including EMM/MDM – in order to enforce granular, dynamic network access policies. In essence, these solutions leverage the network as a sensor in order to make proactive access control decisions e.g., applying different access policy depending on the device being used or the compliance state of the device; or enforcing access to prevent unauthorized lateral movement across a network) throughout the extended network – regardless of how authorized users or devices connect.

This evolution has transformed NAC from a limited security hindrance into a powerful business enabler for enterprises, with more advanced solutions going beyond simple access policy and integrating with other network and security solutions to share data and improve the efficacy of all solutions. For example, here at Cisco, when I attempt to access the network with my iPad, the Cisco Identity Services Engine (“ISE”) (our NAC/EVAS solution) sees my device’s attempt to connect.  It checks the profile and posture of the tablet to ensure that it is compliant with our mobile device wireless access policy (i.e., with MDM/EMM software installed).  If not, Cisco ISE, which is integrated with an EMM/MDM software solution, redirects me to install that software first in order to become compliant before I gain whatever access my particular level of authorization allows on the network.  With this integration between the two solutions, my tablet is now secured with the MDM/EMM software, and my level of access to network resources is seamlessly controlled, down to the letter, courtesy of the NAC/EVAS solution. Caveats solved.

Ultimately, this is just the beginning. Enterprises have realized that the “new NAC” can serve as a viable centerpiece for not only securing access but also for integrating with existing and previously silo’ed security and productivity solutions – like EMM/MDM – that may already be deployed in the enterprise network.

At the end of the day, NAC sure isn’t what it used to be…but that’s, actually, a very good thing.

For an additional perspective on NAC, market trends, and solutions, I invite you to look at the newly-released 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Access Control (NAC).

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