We aim to power an inclusive future for all, says Cisco CTO

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With approximately 15,000 guests in person and a live-streamed online event, this year’s Cisco Live hybrid event was the first of its kind. Following the event’s successful conclusion, Rabab Zehra, Executive Editor at TECHx spoke with Osama Al-Zoubi, CTO, Cisco Middle East and Africa, to go through the specifics of what happened. Here is what Osama had to say.

TECHx: Cisco Live: What was its significance this year? Have you been able to achieve the goals you set before the event?

Osama: For the past two years, Cisco has hosted virtual Cisco Lives, and this year we held the first ever Cisco Live hybrid event – we were pleased to see 16,000 people in physical attendance, with hundreds of thousands online.

At Cisco, our aim is to ensure that we power an inclusive future for all, and it is at the core of everything we do, including creating some of the many forward-looking innovations we showcased throughout the event. This includes:

  • Transforming automotive travel: A Ford Mustang Mach-E previewed Webex Meetings in-car capability. 
  • Real-world hybrid work space: Cisco’s hybrid work stations showcased the latest technology that enables a new way of working.
  • Immersive 3D collaboration: With Webex Hologram, attendees experienced the industry’s only real-time meeting solution that takes advantage of augmented reality headsets to combine feature rich Webex meeting functionality with immersive 3D holograms.
  • Extending video communications and collaboration into deep space: Visitors could experience Callisto, the unique vehicle-connected crew interface technology powered by Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Amazon. Callisto will be onboard the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission. 
  • The fastest autonomous car: Attendees saw the Cisco-powered car that set the land speed record for autonomous vehicles (over 190 MPH).
  • Asynchronous video messaging: With meeting fatigue more prevalent than ever, solutions that increase productivity and flexibility in the workday are much needed. Vidcast, part of the Webex Suite, enables users to easily record, edit and share video messages — all without waiting for calendars to align to meet live. For the first time, Cisco previewed its AI-powered editing features that will make it even easier for users to create polished videos – with the ability to use the transcript to clip/edit the video, remove filler words, and in the near term, leverage custom text-to-speech models for insertions or overdubbing.

TECHx: Which technology segments did you focus on during the event?

Osama: We focused across major technology segments, with a primary focus on networking, security, application observability and collaboration that help organizations drive the productivity, resiliency and agility required in today’s hybrid world. These new technologies deliver:   

  • Unified experiences: Today’s business environment is predictably unpredictable, and business agility and resiliency have never been more important. With that in mind we announced new cloud management capabilities that provide a unified experience across the Cisco Meraki, Cisco Catalyst, and Cisco Nexus portfolios – and a new Cisco ThousandEyes product for advanced optimization of WAN performance.
  • Security resilience: Cisco unveiled its new strategy for a global, cloud-delivered, integrated platform delivering secure access and connectivity for organizations of any shape and size. Cisco is taking steps to realize its Security Cloud vision with innovations across the industry’s most complete portfolio.
  • A reimagined application experience: Cisco has launched AppDynamics Cloud, a cloud-native observability platform for modern applications which are based on increasingly complex, distributed architectures and services. It empowers IT teams to deliver the exceptional digital experiences currently demanded by businesses, consumers and end users.
  • New free open-source, API-first developer solutions: Cisco’s Panoptica app and Calisti app, the latest additions to Cisco’s suite of cloud-native, API-first tools that result in faster application development cycles, and provide businesses with modern application connectivity, security, and observability that is critical for exceptional digital experiences.

TECHx: What is Cisco’s cloud strategy; how does it address the pain points of organizations today?

Osama: At Cisco, we believe that a hybrid, multi-cloud, and app centric infrastructure has become the de facto way of operating IT. Hybrid, because customer environments have a mix of cloud-native, cloud only applications combined with Edge and on-premises applications and services. Multi-cloud, because applications can consume services from any cloud. And last, but not least: app centric, because the application has become the business.

Today, services are delivered and consumed through applications. It’s how companies build relationships with their customers. Most CIOs are thinking about how they can reimagine the way they design, develop, and deploy applications. That was true before but has been heightened by the pandemic. As digital experiences get simpler for consumers, they get more complex for companies. They need insight into the health of every application and every transaction. Enabling a rich and smooth digital customer experience is key to business success.

At Cisco, we aim to help customers at all points on their cloud journey. This includes business continuity, enabling hybrid work; and security, with a Zero trust model across workplace, workforce and workloads. We connect any user to any application and any cloud; and deliver cloud operations across on prem and cloud environments.

But perhaps most importantly, we offer unique insights and observability: from the infrastructure to the application. Our visibility capabilities allow us to understand better than any other vendor how a user connects to an application. This gives companies and institutions an end-to-end view into the digital delivery of applications and services over the internet.

TECHx: How does Cisco ensure that organizations have a secure cloud experience?

Osama: Security is a key area for Cisco, one where we are constantly striving to deliver advanced solutions in. For a more secure cloud experience, we recently unveiled a plan for a global, cloud-delivered, integrated platform that secures and connects organizations of any shape and size. The company is designing the Cisco Security Cloud to be the industry’s most open platform, protecting the integrity of the entire IT ecosystem – without public cloud lock-in. 

The Cisco Security Cloud provides an integrated experience for securely connecting people and devices everywhere to applications and data anywhere. With unified management, the open platform will provide threat prevention, detection, response, and remediation capabilities at scale.

TECHx: How does Cisco empower hybrid work environments in the face of a changing work landscape?

Osama: In today’s hybrid work environment, the key to success is spread across networking, security, collaboration and observability. We are innovating at a high speed to offer solutions across all these domains, enabling people to work from home, the office, and anywhere in between on any given day or time. Among others, we have been releasing well over 1,000 new features in a year for our collaboration platform Webex. 

We also launched the industry’s first phone for hybrid work – the Cisco Video Phone 8875.  Users can log into the video phone to access their Webex Suite profile, settings, and calendar. And with a QR code, they can simply login and authenticate their calling and video meetings to work at any desk, in any office for modern hotdesking.

 In addition, at Cisco Live, we announced that we integrated ThousandEyes into Webex Control Hub, which enables IT teams to proactively monitor app performance and provide support. 

TECHx: How does Cisco’s new AppDynamics Cloud enable IT teams to improve their digital experiences?

Osama: With Cisco AppDynamics Cloud, IT teams can easily deliver digital solutions and experiences with the 360-degree visibility and insights it provides. The cloud-native observability platform is based on increasingly complex distributed architectures and services, enabling simplicity, usability and intuitiveness, allowing IT teams to provide key services to businesses, consumers and end users. 

AppDynamics Cloud essentially correlates telemetry data across cloud environments at a massive scale, allowing for remediating of application performance issues within a business context and insight-driven actions.

TECHx: Lastly, how was the experience of organizing a large-scale hybrid event?

Osama: Cisco has already built a track record with the online experience, which accelerated even more in the past two years. For the event, we ensured that we built those capabilities even further to enable a seamless experience for our online audience.

To make remote attendees audience feel more included, one of the ways we made the event more interactive is by using Slido, which is part of Cisco Webex. We were able to engage with them by creating polls, quizzes and Q&As.

What was also new at the event was that our employees could be part of the experience and hear about the news on Day 0, with a global virtual all-hands live from Las Vegas.

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