It’s a brave new world for startups looking to enter the cloud market.

According to McKinsey, over 90% of organizations say that COVID-19 accelerated their adoption of cloud – and with good reason: The cloud offers unparalleled advantages in terms of speed, scale, and agility…and with it, a new level of complexity.

Today we have a world where developers are running fast. However, Ops and Cloud Ops are struggling because they’re trying to manage across multiple clouds, their own data center and potentially edge locations, with application components running across all of them.

Challenge & Opportunity 

This is both the challenge and the opportunity in a hybrid cloud world – a world that’s opened the door for open source, startups, public cloud providers and companies like Cisco to close the innovation gap.

These forward-looking players are offering new, cutting-edge tools that support cloud native development, or provide the automation, observability, and data insights necessary to keep pace with the demands from application teams.

As the SVP and GM of Cisco’s Cloud and Compute Business, I’ve worked closely with the Corporate Development and Investments team, Cisco’s venture capital arm, to bring together Cisco’s own internal innovation with the best that the cloud startup ecosystem has to offer.

Dedicated Team

This team is dedicated to identifying and building relationships with top startups – determining opportunities to invest, acquire, or partner. Over the years, I’ve acted as an advisor and executive sponsor for several of these pivotal decisions, and I’ve seen first-hand how bringing together today’s top startups with an enterprise leader like Cisco and our incredible base of customers is a win-win-win for everyone involved.

Through these partnerships, Cisco’s engineering teams are constantly in tune with the latest innovations coming out of the startup space, and collaborating on new capabilities that complement our existing product offerings. For startups, Cisco can be a technology and go-to-market partner that accelerates their customer reach, resulting in invaluable insights that feed their innovation engine. And all of this is in service of our customers, who gain access to the most state-of-the-art solutions in the market, enterprise-validated, trusted and backed by Cisco.

Looking to the Future

As we look to the future, we know that our engagement with the startup ecosystem will only increase. Here are a few of the key cloud investment and partnership areas:

  1. Cloud-native capabilities: Think Kubernetes, serverless, application networking, and Infrastructure as Code. Over the last few years, we’ve been incredibly active in this space – making acquisitions in companies like Portshift and Banzai Cloud to further develop our cloud-native security and service mesh capabilities and our ability to develop, deploy, and scale container-based applications. We’ve also invested in companies like Isovalent and Styra – both tackling key problems in the cloud-native space – from container networking to declarative authorization.
  2. Automation: The only way to manage today’s complex infrastructure is by automating your operations and leveraging platforms that can help applications communicate across multiple clouds and on-prem. In addition, application teams want to enable their applications to talk across multiple clouds despite different messaging standards. A great example of a company that addresses some of these challenges is TriggerMesh, a recent Cisco investment. Another example is our partnership with HashiCorp, a leader in infrastructure as code – where we have co-innovated with them and are taking our joint service to enterprise markets for hybrid cloud use cases.
  3. Data management: Cisco has been a player in this space for quite a while, through our hardware business coupled with our software offerings like Cisco Hyperflex, hyper-converged primary storage. We have successfully expanded our customer reach through investments and go-to-market partnerships in companies like Cohesity, a unicorn in the hyperconverged secondary storage space.

Startup Founders & Investors

So, if you’re a founder or investor in the cloud ecosystem – and especially in one of these key areas, I encourage you to join us on September 15th for Cisco Investments’ Magnetic Cloud, a virtual summit for startup founders and investors.

I’ll be speaking alongside Jeremy Foster, VP of Global Sales for Cisco’s Cloud Infrastructure and Software Group, in a fireside chat starting at 10 am PST.  We’ll be taking live audience Q&A during the session, so come with your questions, and we’ll bring the answers. Register for the event here.

Register now to join us!

Cisco Investments’ Magnetic Cloud

September 15th @ 10 AM PDT



Kaustubh Das

SVP and General Manager

Cloud & Compute