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BLOG: Cisco Live: Breaking down Cisco's new data center strategy

Zeus Kerravala | June 27, 2013
What will change as Cisco expands it data center strategy?

This certainly has its merits and sounds good on paper, however, executing on this isn't trivial. Rob Lloyd stressed the importance of building a real developer community to leverage the Application Centric Infrastructure. I completely agree with this. However, Cisco has been trying to build one for the past decade. Cisco says it is completely aligned in this direction and the creating of a real "Cisco Developer Network" (CDN) is a top priority. Given the number of starts and stops CDN has had, I'm skeptical of Cisco's ability to actually deliver on this. I agree that there are a number of new leaders that have software backgrounds, but a successful CDN requires the whole company marching in the same direction.

Also, there's the issue of the current customers and channel partners. Most Cisco resellers and buyers don't think application-first. They live and die with the network. Rob Lloyd made a comment that it's time to give up the CLI and move to an automated deployment model. That's fine to say, but CCIEs are steeped in CLI and, in many ways, it's their competitive advantage. The fact is, though, customers and resellers must move this way and be willing to move up the IT stack. The world is changing and old-school skill sets will soon be irrelevant. Think back to the days when mainframe computing turned Windows. Did the mainframe people move the industry? Heck no, it was a bunch of new IT individuals that pushed the old guard out. For Cisco customers, you need to move in the direction of "hybrid IT" or face irrelevance yourself. I understand Cisco has some new certifications coming to address this, but shifting customer/channel mindset will require a fair bit of work.

Overall, it was good to see Cisco punch back at the industry. SDNs, cloud, mobility and virtualization are not commoditizing the network. Far from it, it raises the value and Cisco is trying to lead the change instead of allowing the startups in this market to carry the voice of networking. The company unloaded a ton of new products, and now it needs to go execute on the go-to-market stuff, which has been a historical point of strength for Cisco.


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