Looking To Duplicate Catalyst 9000 Magic, Cisco Brings Subscription Model To Routing Portfolio


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Cisco Systems is bringing a subscription consumption model to another of its legacy product lines, continuing its drive to modernize its offerings and purchasing options in a quickly developing market.

This time, the networking giant is offering its routing portfolio on a subscription basis. The offering follows the introduction of its subscription-based Catalyst 9000 series of switches a little less than a year ago. Since then, the Catalyst 9000 family has become the fastest Cisco line to reach $1 billion run rate versus revenue, executives said at the company's Partner Connection Week in Nassau, the Bahamas.

David Ito, vice president, solutions practice at Black Box Network Services, a Westlake, Ohio, solution provider that works with Cisco, said offering the routing portfolio by subscription would allow Black Box to remove complexity from customers' environments.

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"It starts to remove the hardware complexity of our deployments," Ito said. "In the old school, you've got a router, you've got switches, you've got an edge switch; there are so many different points of failure. Now, the router's going to have a lot more software capability to it and it's going to streamline deployment."

"Customers are asking for that," said Kevin McCann, COO of Continental Resources, a Bedford, Mass., solution provider that works with Cisco. "It's another offering to present to them, you just have to makes sure it fits with what their needs are." When done right, the offering could spur Continental's already strong growth with Cisco, McCann said. Continental does about half its business with Cisco, and McCann said that business is growing between 6 percent and 10 percent annually.

The subscription offering covers the entire Cisco enterprise routing portfolio, according to Prashanth Shenoy, Cisco vice president of enterprise and IoT networking marketing, including ISR and ASR models, routers included in the Viptela solution Cisco acquired last August, Enterprise Network Compute Systems and vEdge virtual routers.

The move follows the introduction of the Catalyst 9000 series of switches, which form the foundation of the San Jose, Calif., company's intent-based networking strategy and have attracted thousands of customers and $1 billion in revenue in less than a year.

The move is a nod to the market's demand for flexible, pay-as-you-go consumption models over expensive proprietary hardware.

Shenoy explained that the subscription model can be used to provide customers with a cloud-managed option or an on-premises solution. Also, "you have the capability of porting this from one platform to another to provide flexibility of deployment. You pick your hardware or your virtual appliance and you get flexibility of management."

Jason Gallo, Cisco global director of partner sales, said offering a subscription model not only gives the customer what it needs, but makes their relationships with partners more stable and longer-lasting. "The addition of these new consumption models and how you can tailor the way the customer wants to consume the technology over a period of time is happening across Cisco, and that makes the partner a lot more sticky. We want to see a return to growth in routing. New software consumption models are something partners are really excited about, and now we have that same set of benefits across the routing portfolio."

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