Partners: Cisco's 'Unmatched' And 'Revolutionary' New Networking Platform Set To Drive Recurring Revenues

Partners are bullish about the new sales opportunities Cisco is opening up to the channel around network refreshes, security and recurring revenues through its "revolutionary" Network Intuitive platform launched today.

The subscription-based platform represents a significant shift in transforming Cisco into a software-centric vendor through new automation, encrypted traffic security analytics, machine learning capabilities and a new IOS, to name a few. Partners said the solution will speed up network operations, enhance security infrastructure and better automate provisioning and configuration tasks for customers – providing a true end-to-end digital transformation solution sold from a single vendor.

"This is the exact business outcome a CIO is looking for. This is a truly transformative solution," said Faisal Bhutto, vice president of enterprise networking, cloud and cybersecurity for Computex Technology Solutions, a Houston-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner. "Customers want their people to not worry about command lines and having to spend so much time provisioning and managing the different toolsets … This is going to change how the industry handles the LAN environment. We’re really excited about the recurring revenue value it will drive for us."

[Related: Cisco Launches Networking Platform That Will ’Redefine The Network For The Next 30 Years,’ Says CEO Robbins]

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Vinu Thomas, chief technology officer at Presidio, a New York-based top Cisco partner, said his company was part of platform’s beta program and been running tests around the solution.

Thomas said Cisco’s Network Intuitive is revolutionary in its malware detection capabilities, single management console, built-in artificial intelligence, software-subscription focus and the services opportunities it brings to channel partners.

"All the integration Cisco has done here opens up a lot of opportunities for us both in terms of software sales, but also in things like lifecycle adoption, and things like managed services and professional services," said Thomas.

"Also when you think about midmarket clients, they don’t necessarily have the skill set or resources to be able to say, 'I'm going to integrate three or four different vendors, and I'm going to have programmability that extends between one operating system to the other operating system,'" he said. "Let's be honest, when you're looking at multiple vendors, they’re not going to have a unified operating system. But when Cisco announced today with the IOS-EX [software], you now have one operating system and advanced integration capabilities."

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant unveiled its Network Intuitive platform on Tuesday in San Francisco during a media and analyst event.

The platform is center around Cisco's Digital Network Architecture (DNA) that helps power the Intuitive Network.

One of the many new solutions within Cisco's platform is the DNA Center, which is an intuitive, centralized management dashboard providing IT teams with an "intent-based" approach spanning design, provisioning, policy and assurance. Cisco defines intent-based networking as enabling IT to move from the traditional processes to automation, making it possible to manage millions of devices in minutes.

"So you now have a single management console that allows you to manage the network policy, security and all the other associated platforms with one single management console – that’s pretty revolutionary," said Thomas.

Another new solution is Cisco’s Software-Defined Access (SDA) that automates tasks like troubleshooting, provisioning and configuration. SDA uses automated policy enforcement and network segmentation over a single network fabric to simplify network access for users, devices and things. The network giant claims the solution reduces network provisioning by 67 percent, improves issue resolution by 80 percent, reduces security breach impact by 48 percent and opex savings by 61 percent.

Cisco also revamped its DNA security suite with a new Encrypted Traffic Analytics soltion. By utilizing its Talos cyber intelligence and machine learning to analyze metadata traffic patterns, the network can identify the "fingerprints" of known threats even in encrypted traffic, without decrypting it and impacting data privacy, according to Cisco. A key new service here for channel partners is the ability to detect malware.

"You can now look at network analytics and network visibility all the way from the standard networking down to security – malware detection on encrypted traffic, that’s unheard of," said Thomas.

The networking giant also announced a new analytics platform, the Network Data Platform, which categorizes and correlates the vast amount of data running on the network while uses machine learning to turn it into predictive analytics and business intelligence. The platform is delivered through the DNA Center Assurance service.

Cisco also unveiled new hardware, the Catalyst 9000 switching series. The company says the new switches were custom-built for the digital transformation era – delivering unmatched security, programmability and performance by innovating at the hardware with custom ASICs and software layers.

The new switches have a built-in x86 platform where customers can run native applications. "It’s cloud-ready so you can extend your cloud-enabled applications all the way down your switch level, which is a pretty revolutionary thing," said Bhutto.

"The Catalyst 9000s are for those clients looking to make a move from their old [Catalyst] switches like the 4500 or old access layer switches," said Bhutto. "This now only brings them new, faster, higher speed and feeds switches, but gives them this unified platform where the provisioning and the operational efficiencies that they’re going to gain is huge."

The Catalyst 9000 includes Cisco’s new IOS XE software.

David Goeckeler, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of networking and security, said the new IOS operating system was "rebuilt for the digital age."

"Our [new IOS] is open, it's API-driven, it's programmable, it's modular, it allows our customers to extend it to interconnect in an API world," said Goeckeler. "This is going to drive intent-driven networking for the next 30 years."

CEO Chuck Robbins said Cisco is now making software subscription an essential element of its flagship campus switching portfolio. When purchasing the new Catalyst 9000 family of switches, customers will access the DNA software capabilities by subscription, either via bundled Cisco ONE software suites or à la carte components.

"This platform …. gives us the ability to create longer-term lifetime value for our customers," said Robbins. "Two years ago, we had $1.9 billion on our balance sheet in deferred revenue from software and subscription, and last quarter that number was $4.5 billion. The big question is, 'Can you bring that to your core?' And today we are bringing a subscription methodology to our core networking portfolio. We're incredibly excited about not only what it does for [Cisco], but [the fact that] it allows us to continue to deliver more and more value for our customers on top of these platforms of the future."

Partners said the integrated Network Intuitive platform will make it easier and simpler for customers to buy, consume and deploy networking and security solutions.

"I can now have one conversation with a client, present them a complete solution for an intelligent campus environment, an intelligent network, which is secure and manageable," said Bhutto. "It just makes it a lot easier from a decision-making standpoint for customers … there’s just no match for it."