The 10 Biggest Cisco News Stories Of 2023 (So Far)

From technology launches to a handful of acquisitions, including Valtix and Armorblox, to job cuts and an Americas channel chief promotion, here are the 10 biggest Cisco news stories of the year so far.

All Eyes On Cisco

Cisco Systems has found itself in the spotlight for a few reasons so far in the first six months of 2023.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking behemoth has been on a mission to become equally as well known in the crowded security market. But to gain dominance, the company needs the help of its channel. To that end, Cisco in the spring revealed how it would not only work to simplify its go-to-market, but it would invest an incremental $100 million in partners around security to do it. And speaking of simplification, Cisco is transitioning its various portfolios to platforms in a move to create a more unified way of managing various point solutions. With that in mind, Cisco Networking Cloud was unveiled at Cisco Live 2023 this month.

Then, there was a significant move on the channel team. Rhonda Henley, a Cisco veteran of more than two decades, was named Americas channel chief in February and she’s been leading the charge ever since.

At the same time, the tech giant has gone on a shopping spree with four acquisitions so far this year, including three security-related deals.

From technology launches and a handful of acquisitions to job cuts and a big channel promotion, here are the 10 biggest Cisco news stories of the year so far.

10. Cisco To Scoop Up Smartlook

Cisco in April revealed its intent to buy Smartlook, a provider of qualitative analytics for websites and mobile apps, to boost Cisco AppDynamics’ Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM).

The move comes as Cisco continues to build out its Full-Stack Observability strategy. The company saw Smartlook, a privately held company based in Brno, Czech Republic, that specializes in Real User Monitoring as a critical component of DEM.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of Cisco’s Fiscal Year 2023.

9. Cisco To Buy Armorblox

At the end of May, Cisco revealed plans to acquire Armorblox, a company that has pioneered the use of Large Language Models (LLMs) and natural language understanding in cybersecurity, according to Cisco.

The tech giant took to Cisco Live at the beginning of June to share its plans to inject generative AI into both its security and collaboration portfolios to start with. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Armorblox uses generative AI and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to prevent email attacks. Cisco said that once combined, it will change the way customers understand and interact with their security control points and offer enhanced attack prediction, rapid threat detection and efficient policy enforcement.

The Armorblox team will join Cisco’s Security Business Group once the deal is closed, which is expected by the end of Cisco’s fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2023 in July.

8. Cisco Networking Cloud Launches

Following in Cisco Security Cloud’s footsteps, the tech giant in June revealed Cisco Networking Cloud, a platform approach to managing the entire on-premises and cloud-based networking environment.

The company’s vision for Cisco Networking Cloud is to make managing networks easier by converging its disparate offerings over time to create a unified network management platform that works both on-premises and in the cloud. Cisco Networking Cloud is being driven in part by the success of the cloud-based Meraki portfolio, Cisco told CRN.

Cisco in June 2022 also launched Cisco Security Cloud, the company’s security plan for the future that includes a unified, open-standards-based platform for securely connecting people, applications and devices located anywhere.

7. Cisco Chips Away At Record Product Backlog

The company, which felt the sting of the global supply chain challenges, In February announced during its second-quarter 2023 earnings call that it was able to draw down its once-record-breaking backlog by 6 percent sequentially, thanks in part to Cisco’s channel partners who were able to get solutions into the hands of customers, Robbins said.

Cisco disclosed during that call that it still had $2 billion worth of software orders in backlog.

Robbins said at the time that the company had made significant progress in favor of software and subscriptions, which led to its total annual recurring revenue climbing 6 percent year over year to $23.3 billion.

During the company’s third-quarter Fiscal Year 2023 call, Robbins shared that the actions Cisco has been taking to mitigate supply constraints have continued to pay off and that the company is seeing “a significant reduction” in product lead times.

6. Cisco Unveils Plans to Buy Lightspin

In its second security-related acquisition this year so far, the company in March revealed plans to acquire Lightspin, a cloud security software company, as the networking giant carries out its mission to unify its security portfolio.

Privately held Lightspin specializes in end-to-end cloud security posture management across cloud-native resources. Once the acquisition closes, the team will join Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation business, Cisco said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company had raised $20 million in total funding from such investors as Dell Technologies Capital and Ibex Investors, according to Crunchbase. Lightspin has 67 employees, according to LinkedIn.

5. Cisco Works With India To Diversify Supply Chain

Cisco in May revealed plans to work with India to help ease its supply chain challenges by kicking off manufacturing in the country to the tune of more than $1 billion in combined domestic production and exports in the coming years.

The tech giant was particularly hard-hit by supply chain challenges. Via the terms of the new partnership, Cisco will expand its footprint in India and begin manufacturing in the country. Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins made the announcement of the new partnership from New Delhi last month following a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others.

In addition to freeing up the supply chain, the partnership with India will help Cisco cater to Indian customers and support the country’s vision of becoming a global manufacturing hub. The company began operations in India in 1995 and the country today is Cisco’s second largest R&D center outside the U.S., according to Cisco.

4. Cisco Invests Incremental $100 Million In Partners Around New Security Strategy

Cisco in 2022 unveiled plans to move away from a point product approach in favor of a unified cybersecurity portfolio to boost its market share in the security space. To that end, the company in April discussed how it was simplifying its go-to-market and investing heavily in partners.

“We’ve invested an incremental $100 million in our partners around security in the second half [of Fiscal Year 2023] alone,” said Shawn Yuskaitis, security director, global partner and routes to market, for Cisco. “We are focused on our partner profitability, and we are continuing to innovate and drive programs that drive increased profitability on the front end [and] back end, as well as life-cycle incentives. Major, major changes are occurring here.”

The company revealed how it was reducing complexity by simplifying how security is delivered and consumed by partners and end customers. It also highlighted how it was simplifying its go-to-market through a reduction in its sales teams internally. The company has consolidated its 12 security sales teams, which were broken up by product set, to three teams located in different geographies and a SaaS team, Cisco told CRN.

3. Cisco Unveils Intent To Purchase Valtix

The tech giant kicked off its first of four technology acquisitions so far this year by unveiling plans to buy cloud network security startup Valtix in February as it prioritizes its unified Cisco Security Cloud strategy.

Five-year-old Valtix, a San Jose neighbor to Cisco, specializes in multi-cloud network security for the Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle. Valtix will add a layer of visibility between public and private cloud networks and simplify the operational burden for security teams, according to Cisco.

Cisco has been a strategic investor in Valtix for the past three years. The two companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which closed in March.

2. Cisco Announces More Than 600 Bay Area Job Cuts

At the start of the new year, Cisco revealed that it was cutting 673 jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the tech giant’s plan to maximize cost savings it announced in 2022.

The company eliminated 371 jobs at its San Jose location, 222 jobs in Milpitas and 80 in San Francisco, with the majority of the layoffs impacting software engineers, technical engineers, hardware engineers, product managers and supervisors, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications filed with the state of California in January. Employees were given the option of a February or March termination date.

The January job cuts followed the company’s November announcement that it would lay off approximately 4,000 employees, or about 5 percent of its workforce and reduce some of its real estate in an effort to right-size some of its business units, including the collaboration segment.

1. Rhonda Henley Named Americas Channel Chief

Cisco kicked off the year by crowning a new Americas channel chief. Rhonda Henley, a Cisco veteran of more than two decades, had served as senior director of Cisco’s Global Partner and Routes to Market Sales Organization since 2019 before her appointment to vice president of Cisco’s Americas Partner Organization in February.

Today, Henley is responsible for leading partners across the U.S., Canada and Latin America, representing the Americas primary route to market and accounting for over 90 percent of its annual revenue, according to Cisco. She and her team have been focused on driving next-generation solution-selling through the channel, including software, as a service, managed services and security, in alignment with Cisco’s strategy.

Henley replaced John Moses, who had sat in the Americas vice president of partner sales seat since 2019.