You didn’t have to take too many steps through the conference halls at Mandalay Bay to understand what the hot topics of discussion are at Cisco Live 2017:  DNA and software-defined architectures, intuitive networks, meaningful and actionable analytics, and transformational technologies and services were all front and center not only at our own Cisco booths but also those of our partners and 3rd party vendors.  Everywhere you looked, you saw that the face of network technologies is changing.

The main takeaway?  Network technologies are evolving rapidly toward software-centric and virtualized models and architectures.  Concepts such as intuitiveness, application-level visibility, and actionable analytics are becoming as or more important than the old mainstay metrics of throughput and uptime.  This bodes well for our prospects and customers in the long run, but all this change presents complexity and disruption that must be managed properly in order to tap into the benefits and opportunities beyond.

The thought that immediately comes to mind is just how imperative managed services will be moving forward for our large, global enterprise prospects and customers in this paradigm shift.  The key to transformation is to ensure that innovative new business processes are implemented and supported by these new technology services—this is not a single event but rather a journey during which the enterprise must manage existing processes and infrastructures while preparing for, migrating, deploying, and optimizing next-generation networking, data center, and collaboration infrastructures.

Many visitors to the Managed Services booth articulated to us the vague unease they’re already feeling as they process and assess where all this is leading them.  The conversations culminated in some very basic questions about managed services and our role in the transformation of their core business.  Surely we offered more than just device monitoring given all this complexity, right?  Fortunately, we were able to show with our demonstrations and explanations just how much managed services are evolving in pace with the products and technologies causing all this disruption, opportunity, and potentiality.
At the end of the day, a few questions stuck out.

  1. So what are managed services? You’d think that we had established what managed services are for the IT industry, but it became apparent that when this question was asked, it was posed with a knowledge of what last-generation managed services are (device monitoring, up/down status, basic break-fix) and with a desire to understand the role of managed services in dealing with next-generation infrastructures.  This lead to great conversations about partnering with our customers to guide them through transformation, not just serving as an outsourcing option for their Day 2 operations.  It also led us to talk about meaningful business outcomes rather than individual capabilities and deliverables.
  2. How are managed services priced and procured? What really became apparent here is that different organizations have different needs.  Our explanations about the different tiers of services, different consumption models, and other flexibilities and options built into the packaging and pricing of our managed services went over very well—what the visitors to our booth stressed was that a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works, but having built in standardization and consistencies was needed and necessary too and a great place to start.
  3. Where do we begin the discussion? For our large enterprise prospects and customers, transformation is not going to be a localized event focused on just one area of their IT capabilities.  In most cases, it’s going to affect their networking infrastructure, data center capabilities, and collaboration services.  This naturally lead to conversations about bundling, integrated offers, and a single Cisco experience.  The ability to present a single unified front and point of contact across all areas of service leading into Day 2 operations was paramount to everyone with whom we spoke about managed services.

Day 2 will probably present more and varied topics of discussion.  Stay tuned and we’ll report back at the end of the day.

Written by Trevor Morgan