Back in November of 2016, I authored my first Cisco blog focusing on employee and customer experiences rather than selling boxes. Since then, I’ve been interviewed more than a dozen times and written several more blogs on how our world-class partners are using Cisco APIs and Cisco DevNet to help customers evolve their networks in this new digital transformation. Recently, I sat down with one of our largest global partners to hear how they were using Cisco APIs to create better outcomes.
Using Cisco APIs to solve customer challenges
World Wide Technology (WWT), whose customers include most of the Fortune 500 global companies, has been using Cisco APIs to solve customer challenges for several years. Their platform, Thelios®, accelerates the creation of Cisco Meraki Networks through enhanced automation, visualization, reporting and usability. The platform’s key features, Auto-Provisioner and Health Dashboard, can speed deployments while mitigating risks.
Recently, I sat down with WWT Product Manager, Josh Deppermann, to discuss their latest platform.
Bill: Hi Josh, I recently saw an early release of your Thelios platform and it looked really impressive. Why did you build Thelios?
Josh: Hi Bill, several of our largest customers are moving to new network architectures and they’re trying to combine cloud, branch, and now the work from home requirements during this pandemic. They were starting with two of Cisco’s networking lines: (1) Meraki for the branches and work from home users that needed a branch-like experience, and (2) Cisco Catalysts for their headquarters and data center.
Bill: I am hearing from many of our partners about this hybrid network approach. Cisco already has the Meraki Dashboard and DNA Center. How does the Thelios platform fit in here?
Josh: These customers wanted to deploy these products at scale, with unified policy, and most importantly have visibility across the whole network. They also wanted a simple dashboard for non-IT people, like the manager of a gas station foodmart, to be able to see if the network was up or down. Or, if say the Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminal wasn’t connecting. Is it the WAN? Something else? Without calling the helpdesk, they have no idea because they are not really technical. Cisco doesn’t natively address this scenario. So, we decided to build a solution — and that’s Thelios.
A simple network-wide view
Bill: You created the coveted single pane-of-glass for Meraki and Catalyst product lines?
Josh: Yes, but it is more than that. Thelios allows you to import configurations from your legacy Cisco switching gear and redeploy them as Meraki MS configurations. We can also deploy Meraki at mass scale with the corporate policy. Like the thousands of Meraki Z3s we deployed for a financial institution’s traders in just a few days when they had to quickly transition to work from home. All of this gear shows up in the dashboard where we have completely abstracted the hardware to provide a simple network-wide view that can have different levels of access and viewing options. So with Thelios, that store manager can log into the web portal and get a quick store health view while the network administrator can see the whole network – Meraki or Catalyst.
Cisco products have open APIs
Bill: That’s amazing, how were you able to do all this?
Josh: As a DevNet certified partner, we leveraged all of Cisco APIs plus our deep coding expertise from our Application Services division to build Thelios. This is just the beginning. We are looking to add SD-WAN to the platform next. And, we’re evaluating tools like AppDynamics to bring in more layer 7 information. Other companies simply cannot provide this level of visibility and then double click down to the individual products, if necessary. Because all Cisco products have open APIs, it makes it easy for us to continue to add more products to the platform and extend the functionality. With our Agile development approach, we expect to grow the platform every few months with net-new products and capabilities. Our first few customers have said Thelios has greatly improved their productivity and troubleshooting.
Bill: Josh, this is a fantastic example of how a partner can leverage DevNet and Cisco’s APIs to create new outcomes. I would say the Thelios platform looks like a competitive advantage for both WWT and Cisco. I’m looking forward to checking back with you later this year to hear how Thelios has evolved and what other exciting things WWT is doing with Cisco’s APIs. Thank you for your time.