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Q&A: Cisco's Ken Boal and Jason Brouwers -- We're now a software and security company

Allan Swann | June 30, 2015
Cisco has changed its focus from routers and switches to software and security. How has that changed the company under the new CEO, and how will it affect its Australian partners?

But some customers have made investment decisions to go with other security elements, so we have to make that work. So we will open up our network and, where ACI, as it is applied to the network, will help to automate some of those complexities in that multi-vendor environment.

Cisco will always have a bit of secret sauce we can provide for our end-to-end solutions, and its our job to prove the value in that secret sauce.

Security has been a very competitive area, and for A/NZ that's really our number one focus at the moment. Because that's the big pain point for the boardrooms, there's a lot of uncertainty and fear, and if we don't address it as an industry then you can forget the digital era of business.

AS: So in a very short time frame you've gone from being a networking company to software and security focused company. That's a huge cultural change. How are your partners dealing with that?

JB: It's a great story for us actually. Partners are looking at their customers and thinking -- how can we refresh these networks? These options give the channel a new conversation to take back to that install base to push.

If you can approach a customer, and prove to them that their infrastructure is a security risk, and their business as a whole is a security risk, then we've made it easier for our partners to have that 'in' conversation with their customers.

Well how has the change been for you two personally?

KB: This industry isn't for the fainthearted, you're always learning and that's the beauty of it.

Remember we've always been in security. We're number one in firewall market share, even when we were known as a switch and router company.

I actually think we're a good case study for the wider corporate world. We're a company with a core business, and we moved into what we call 'market adjacencies' and added new capabilities. We've innovated within our core business, but we've also added these new product lines. Now it all works better together. It's certainly kept us on our toes. We have to keep it all fresh.

Who would've thought a few years ago we'd be cooking up solutions with Caterpillar trucks? Now we're talking about smart lightbulbs that go into smart cities, with smart security cameras, and smart parking. These market adjacencies, yes they put us under a pressure, but it's a fantastic conversation we're now able to have.


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