As enterprises have a plethora of technological challenges, Cisco as a company has solutions for these challenges. Rajesh Shetty, Managing Director, Enterprise Sales, Cisco India and SAARC, opens up about CIOs challenging roles in the ever-changing cloud landscape and the role CISCO will play in it.
What is happening is that everybody thought that the cloud is the solution to all problems. Increasingly people are realizing that cloud is another tool.”
RAJESH SHETTY MANAGING DIRECTOR, ENTERPRISE SALES, CISCO INDIA AND SAARC
Talking from a CIO space, where is the market heading now? How is CISCO technologies influencing on those?
The biggest focus I would say are in three basic areas. One area that they are heavily focused on is the customer experience which can be an internal customer which is an employee, or it can be an external customer which is a customer. So they are very focused in terms of ensuring that the right level of experience is provided for their end customer and their internal customer. So, every discussion has got customer experience as one big area. The other area is in terms of automation, analytics, simplification. The advantage that we have from CISCO point of view that since we offer solutions across a wide gamut of products, we are associated in every single activity that the customer is doing. The third is security on an end-to-end basis. One of the biggest drivers of that is basically cloud. If you look at how things used to operate like say 5 or 6 years back, used to have very few people who could access the internet, or very few people who could access anything which is cloud based. So all the traffic used to come to a central location and from the central location there used to be an internet-link to go out. Today in the cloud era, 40-45% of your traffic is actually going on to the internet. If you’re using Microsoft Office 365, if you’re using any PAS or SAAS based solution or even CISCO Webex, everything is finally cloud based. From the branch itself, significant amount of your traffic is going on to the cloud. You have to think about how you get security embedded on an end-to-end basis. So, you know the CIOs and CXOs are spending quite a lot of time in grappling with this, these three areas. Coming from a CISCO point of view, what we have done is when we acquired a company called Source Fire, almost 5 years ago, we got one of the best AMP products. So, we took that AMP product and we embedded that in every single product that we make, that means it converts a switch into a censor, it basically converts a router into a censor, it converts an access point into a censor, whether you’re talking about an SDA van or any type of software defined architecture. Now, when you make a switch into a censor, that means every packet that is going you are now getting meta data out of it. Your router, whenever it is receiving or sending traffic onto the VAN it is again receiving meta data out of it. Now all this meta data helps you get information then you can automate and do lot of analytics in terms of what is happening within an infrastructure. Gone are the days when you talk about if I
get attacked, I have to do abc, it’s a question of when I get attacked. So recovery has become more important than trying to prevent it. So, when you’re recovering, what you need is an intelligence that this is an attack. So, we have one of the best intelligence sources which is a framework called TALOS where all the security incidents around the world get captured
and then we try to figure out that how is this happening, where did it start from, how long ago did it start. And then we can give informa-tion across to our customers. We offer this free of cost, we don’t charge our customer. So, let’s assume that a security incident which has started in the US, as an example, through TALOS you get information and before you get attacked or when that attack is actually coming into your network, based upon the patterns, we say your network is coming under a specific attack and these are the actions that can be taken. So, the emphasis is shifted from say can I put a door to what is the action that I need to take and how do I know an attack is coming. Other thing which happens is most of the attacks have become very directed. A specific attack is typically written for an organization. Now you have heard of many attacks where they have gone ahead, the Bangla-desh Bank as an example was targeted. So, there are so many of those. But since we have TALOS, since we have information, and we also have in the latest switches that we have announced we call it (ETA) Encrypted Traffic Analysis. What it does is, based upon the traffic that is going through it, from where it is originating, where it is destined for, you make an analysis of that and we are giving guidance in terms of saying that this particular traffic is malicious, whereas this particular traffic is non-malicious. Because now since we are looking at every single packet, we know what benign information is going across. This wealth of information is also helping us in terms of the analytics and the automation part. Now this all is on the technology point of view.
Since the landscape is changing, how do you provide solutions to customers? How do you go about in the market providing solutions?
So, it’s actually again a combination. From a CISCO point of view scale becomes very impor-tant. We are not in the consulting business where we go and do something which is very bespoke for our customer. What we do is we create solutions which are like 80-85% standardized. And the last 15% is what gets customized. So, the product that we use, for let’s assume the pharma industry, the products that we use for manufac-turing, or IT or education, binary remains the same. Now since these are all software defined, and they are programmable, the manner in which to leverage and use them that can be done in two ways. One can be the standard used cases, which we have solutions already created and we deploy that. Then the second one is because we are exposing the APIs and we have partners who are our definite partners they can come and customize according to specifications of a customer’s requirement. So in that way we are able to meet both worlds.
How would you describe the role of CIOs under cloud? What is your take on that?
TThe CIOs role is evolving. What is happening is that everybody thought that the cloud is the solution to all problems. Increasingly people are realizing that cloud is another tool. So, his job has become very complex. He has to figure out how the organization can meet the customer experience part in an increasingly complex world. He has to figure out how security is going to get embedded into it. He has to figure out productivity, he has to figure out application. So the CIOs role is changing. Some of them are morphing into Chief Digitization Officer, some of them are morphing into Chief Security Officer. So, I don’t see the CIO role going away. I don’t see people not wanting to be CIOs. It’s just that a different skill set is going to come and frankly over a period of time my belief is that more and more CIOs will come from a business background. And more and more CIOs will become the CEOs of the organization. The busi-ness level discussion that CIOs are now having is very high compared to what was happening earlier. They are getting embedded into multiple different business units. And they are getting a cross-section view which makes them an ideal candidate to become the next CEOs. If you look at the pace in which the role of CIO is evolving because of the tech, it’s becoming increasingly strategic, they are having a say in everything. Digitization has now become core to every orga-nization. If he is able to make that connection between business and tech then I would say he is in the ideal position to evolve. And that is why the CIOs role is changing so much. There are the ones to be the next leader.
What are we going to see from the CISCO kitty that is coming up, new acquisition, new product launch?
We are doing quite a lot on the ser-vices side. Obviously, we’ll leverage our partners very heavily. A lot of new areas where we get into is where we leverage our services. Another thing we are finding out is a lot of niche companies are coming in with lots of services experience so we are leveraging them very effectively. So, the focus on services will always continue. But we are never going to be in a situation where we compete with our partners. We are always going to look at complimenting them.