Most organizations have adopted a multicloud strategy that creates a “mix and match” approach to security. Yet there’s a problem with this reliance on cloud providers. Unlike legacy on-prem solutions that were managed with a common security management solution, the security posture for public clouds varies significantly based on provider. It’s not within the client’s control.
And while many cloud providers claim to be able to manage competitors’ offerings, they provide a mixed bag of capabilities, with the best security being reserved for the cloud vendor’s own platform. This provides a major opening for a vendor that can offer a consolidated approach to securing a multi-cloud environment. This approach needs to include both cloud and on-prem instances, while also integrating with a variety of security tools already in place. This is a potentially TCO lowering strategy, yet even more important: this approach is even more critical as we find ever more destructive malware coming into play.
Cisco has been moving to Improve its security stance for some time, and is actually now seeing security as one of its foundational markets. It is positioning itself to be a provider of an integrated solution and sees the complex multicloud environment as an opportunity to extend its own networking and endpoint security solutions and become a central point for multicloud security.
Cisco promotes its approach as Security resilience. To Cisco’s way of thinking, it begins in the network and moves out from there. Cisco has identified 5 key components of resilience, much in alignment with how it sees the IT world. It includes:
This is Cisco’s global vision and one that it continues to pursue with its tools sets and previous acquisitions.
Also see: Top 5 Cloud Security Trends
Cisco sees the multicloud security sector as an opportunity to build a “single pane of glass” security approach for organizations that are increasingly moving to the challenging multicloud environment.
Already playing a major role with its on-prem customers that use many of Cisco’s security tools, it wants to expand its role and also enhance its “as a service” offerings. Many cloud providers offer a suite of security tools and services for their own platform, and claim they can support security on other cloud provider’s products as well. But in truth, there is wide variability between cloud native security tools and those theoretically managing a competitor’s system.
With a wide array of often non-compatible APIs and interfaces, it’s very difficult to be a complete true cross-cloud security solution. Cisco sees its opportunity as being the “Switzerland” of security, with equalized support across all cloud and on-prem instances.
The company also touts its solution as a way around vendor lock in when using a public cloud solution. And with Cisco’s heavy concentration on network visibility, manageability and security, it sees an advantage as cloud installations rely heavily on network traffic. Further, with a major move toward more edge-based instances, Cisco believes its capabilities will become even more impactful.
Also see: Top Cloud Companies
To meet the market described above, Cisco has unveiled its Security Cloud offering. It intends to offer a complete cloud native and cloud delivered security platform that can manage any cloud or on-prem installation. It includes a unified policy and management capability, AI/ML driven automation, an extensible platform, and flexible billing.
The platform leverages a number of key components in the Cisco stable of products, but most companies have a myriad of non-Cisco security products already installed. Cisco claims an impressive number of integrations with non-Cisco products, with over 400 tools from 200 security vendors, and growing.
As a result, Cisco envisions the Security Cloud as the central management console for overall operations. Security Cloud also builds on Cisco’s SecureX threat detection and response capability, which Cisco has assembled to be a central environment for disparate XDR tools.
Also see: Top AI Software and Tools
With the rapid growth of multicloud, Cisco has a window of opportunity with its Security Cloud offering. A truly unified and highly effective cross-cloud – and on-prem data center – security platform is something that is sorely needed. Coupled with an effective device security capability, such a unified solution would be attractive.
But a question remains: will the Security Cloud platform will be attractive to companies outside of Cisco’s installed base? Especially since it relies heavily on Cisco components (Talos, Meraki, Thousand Eyes, SASE), and not all enterprises will have an array of Cisco products installed.
While this is a concern, if an enterprise is already a Cisco customer, moving to the Security Cloud to secure their multicloud environment should be an easy choice.
For many CIOs, success with hybrid work initiatives is only the most accurate hint of their transformative impact. Having earned more visibility into and across organizations, many are now transitioning into bigger conversations and responsibilities.
Over the years, pundits have recognized the value CIOs bring. They combine business and technology expertise to provide insight into how, where, and why enterprises can use IT solutions. By focusing on business value, not whiz-bang tech features, CIOs can lead transformative change.
They use innovations like the cloud, edge computing, SD-WAN, and IoT in conversations that may have begun around today’s newly designed offices. But these discussions are going much further.
Hybrid work remains important to corporate executives, with the C-suite being perceived as placing a high priority on enabling a hybrid workforce at 78% of organizations, according to research conducted for Cisco Meraki by IDG.
But organizations also saw how CIOs and their teams rapidly developed new tools or quickly scaled existing tools for online accessibility. Government agencies, for example, began offering web-based versions of services once restricted to in-person visits. Retailers embraced curbside pickup and medical providers’ use of telehealth surged.
Time and again, IT departments demonstrated their ability to partner with business units and the C-suite, not only to solve traditional technical issues, but also to overcome broader business challenges and discover new ways of doing business. In the case of curbside pickup, it’s become a staple of retail and restaurant life that’s expected to continue.
Working with numerous stakeholders, CIOs are better equipped to future-proof, ensuring the enterprise can adapt based on what is happening internally and in the broader marketplace.
It’s one reason about 50% of boards of directors view the CIO as a partner, wrote Partha Iyengar, Research vice president and fellow at Gartner, in CIO Dive. This means the CIO and IT organization collaborate regularly with senior business leaders and give expert input to the board.
Gartner research found 85% of IT leaders spend time on transformational activities—most significantly on modernizing infrastructure and applications (40%), followed by aligning IT initiatives with business goals (38%) and cultivating the IT/business partnership (30%).
For many CIOs, the cloud is the foundation for effecting and managing change. Designed for scalability, flexibility, and agility, cloud infrastructure equips organizations to act quickly in a rapid-fire world. Fortunately for many IT leaders looking to accelerate conversations around cloud adoption, numerous stakeholders today use the cloud personally for storing and sharing music, photos, and movies. This gives them a familiarity with the power of the cloud—facilitating the discussion about cloud concepts and business realities.
Many in the C-suite are seeing how the cloud can be a powerful tool for realizing business efficiencies, paths to more profitability, and new markets or offerings. Already, deploying the cloud delivered four-times more return on investment compared with on-premises deployments, according to Nucleus Research, which analyzed 101 ROI case studies from January 2018 to November 2020. It also enables organizations to recoup the cost of their initial investment 2.5 times faster than for on-premises deployments.
Managing an organization’s cloud and on-premises technologies often falls on the CIO’s shoulders. CIOs seek tools to create great experiences for remote and hybrid teams, customers, and partners. IT team members often want cloud-first solutions that also grant them the flexibility to work from anywhere while continuing to provide unparalleled support. A dashboard for on-premises and the cloud helps address both needs.
Protecting people, places, and things can fall to many individuals across multiple departments, but a holistic view can streamline processes and ultimately enhance the approach and technologies. Smart cameras and sensors that leverage a cloud-based network get the same agility, flexibility, and scalability associated with the cloud, a dashboard for centralized management and touch-free updates, plus the ability to isolate and locate footage quickly as needed.
Eliminating time-consuming, costly manual updates and on-site visits cuts expenses. It also increases safety by alerting security staff to outages or issues based on the organization’s preferences. Employee satisfaction increases as IT team members escape dull and onerous updating tasks in favor of more rewarding projects like smart workspace design, Wi-Fi 6E rollouts, or app development.
Although more and more line-of-business leaders use their budgets to purchase technology, they still typically depend on the CIO’s team for maintenance and support. In fact, 74% of technology purchases are at least partially funded by business units outside IT, according to Gartner. The IT department fully funds 26%, and IT provides at least partial funding in 70% of the purchases studies, Gartner said.
Perhaps one reason for this steady decentralization of IT purchasing is the drumbeat of change. Indeed, 70% of executives reported high disruption to their organization compared with 59% in 2021, according to the 2022 AlixPartners Disruption Index. Interestingly, 57% are concerned their company is not adapting quickly enough.
Technology can help organizations address disruptors like climate change, staffing challenges, the need for personalization, and regulations. CIOs extend their organization’s infrastructure and value by combining technological and business savvy, and working with C-suite and departmental colleagues to resolve challenges and discover new possibilities.
That’s something everyone across the organization can get behind. Get started today.
More integrations between different parts of Cisco’s extensive portfolio in networking and security, combined with as-a-service consumption models meant to make customers’ lives a lot easier.
For years, Cisco events were mainly about adding new features, products, services and often entire acquired companies to the portfolio. This has resulted in an extensive and very powerful platform that you can use in any way you want as an organization. One consequence of this was that the portfolio could appear rather complex and confusing. The hybrid world organizations are moving towards add even more complexity. Organizations have moved towards a distributed and hybrid infrastructure, not to mention the impact that hybrid working has on their IT environments.
So some of the complexity has been created by Cisco itself, some is the result of general market developments. The good news from Cisco is that because of the important role it plays in these developments, the company can therefore also help solve them. Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s CEO, promises to do just that during the keynote: “We want to simplify the things we do with customers. We’re working hard on that, and we’ve made some good strides in doing so.” He is also refreshingly honest when he points out that while Cisco has made some progress, it really needs to improve. Among other things, he mentions simplifying licensing and merging the various platforms that Cisco has on offer.
To counter the negative side effects of more than a decade of progress, Nightingale (and Cisco) made a big announcement during Cisco Live. In fact, it was the biggest announcement of Cisco Live. Not the most surprising by the way, because it was inevitably coming, but a very important one. Cisco is going to merge Meraki and Catalyst. That is, it will ensure that Catalyst products can be managed and monitored from Meraki’s cloud platform. In doing so, Cisco says it is merging the number one cloud-managed networking platform with the number one campus networking platform.
Mind you, it doesn’t mean that the current ways to manage and connect Catalyst hardware will be retired. There will still be support for Catalyst hardware from (on-premises) DNA Center. Customers and partners can also continue to use CLI to do the management. Lastly, all Catalyst hardware that has come to market since the introduction of the Catalyst 9000 series can become part of the new management environment.
Merging Meraki and Catalyst may be a good and timely move on paper. However, what does it mean in practice? Also, how will the market react to this merger? It’s not hard to imagine that not everyone will be happy with this. Partners and organizations have been using Catalyst for a long time now. Changing how they monitor and manage that platform is quite fundamental. We wouldn’t be surprised if many of them want to continue to use Catalyst hardware in the old way.
There are several reasons for this. The first is that until at least a few years ago, Meraki had an SMB/SME focus at Cisco as far as we know. As such, the Enterprise Networking division and the Meraki division are two different parts of the company. That must affect the capabilities that Meraki offers versus what Catalyst offered and is offering. The second reason is that many partners have created a business model around the ‘complex’ nature of Catalyst management. They don’t want to give that up.
In time, these two parts will undoubtedly move (even further) towards each other. This will not be the case immediately at launch. In any event, Cisco will be more in the driver’s seat moving forward, according to Nightingale. That is, the new offering won’t be about having as many features as possible anymore. “We don’t necessarily want to try to be feature-complete, but use-case complete”, he states. This probably means that the number of features will decrease. Nightingale more or less confirms that. He gives a (hypothetical) example that the new environment may well reduce the way you do a specific configuration from twelve ways to two ways.
Mind you, reducing features, specs and options is not necessarily a bad idea. In fact, it’s where the market as a whole is headed. We are moving more and more towards a self-driving, autonomous network, in which AI will play an increasingly important role. That no longer includes extremely complex manual configurations. Whether all current Cisco customers and partners who use Catalyst hardware already think this way, however, we wonder. That may take some time. Cisco has quite a lot of legacy there (in the positive sense of the word). As far as we are concerned, however, Cisco has taken the right step by merging the two environments. It is now up to the company to convince customers and partners of its added value.
Merging Meraki and Catalyst is about reducing complexity in Cisco’s own portfolio. In addition to this, the company also announced something today that should address more general complexity. More specifically, complexity caused by the move towards a hybrid infrastructure. To address this, Cisco announces the Nexus Cloud SaaS offering. This will allow customers to manage their Nexus devices in their data centers from the cloud. Nexus Cloud is part of (or powered by) the Intersight Platform. Intersight is a collection of services that allows organizations to deploy and optimize their distributed infrastructure, among other things. Intersight sees all the endpoints in the infrastructure and analyzes the telemetry data they generate. Additionally, there are services within Intersight that deal with optimizing Kubernetes environments and HashiCorp Terraform environments.
Adding the management of Nexus devices into organizations’ private cloud should obviously simplify and speed up things like deployment and management (think upgrades) of infrastructure a lot. It also integrates with the other services within Intersight. That means you can now manage UCS servers, HyperFlex HCI, Nexus-based private clouds, cloud-native Kubernetes environments and third-party hardware from a single location. This should bring the promised simplification another step closer for customers.
The introduction of Nexus Cloud, by the way, is not a standalone event, according to Robbins. “Everything that we can deliver as a service, we want to start delivering as a service,” he stated during his keynote at Cisco Live. As was the case with the integration of Meraki and Catalyst, the “old” way will continue to be available as well. That is, if you don’t want to use Nexus Cloud, you don’t have to.
When we talk about making it easier to set up and deploy infrastructure, you can’t ignore security. Especially in a hybrid and distributed architecture, it can quickly become a confusing topic. Jeetu Patel, the EVP Security and Collaboration at Cisco, sees this as a golden opportunity for Cisco. This is because Cisco focuses on a platform approach to security. That approach entails deep integrations between different components within the portfolio. “The complexity of hybrid architectures and the increasingly sophisticated threats lead to a preference for an integrated approach to security,” he states.
Providing integration between different components alone is not enough to get the desired simplicity. From Cisco’s point of view, there is also a fair amount of work to be done to make the experience as a whole as good as possible. That starts with something as simple as merging all the different clients into a single client or application. Now Cisco offers a VPN client, a client for DUO and about twenty more. “We really need to get away from that,” Patel indicates. So we will see a consolidation of all those security clients into one.
Solving the complexity of the past is part of Cisco’s ambition. However, this also has consequences during the development of new products and services. These must be as simple as possible from the outset, without losing any of their capabilities.
An example of such a new product is Cisco+ Secure Connect. This is (part of) the company’s SASE solution. “It’s completely turnkey and therefore easy to use,” says Patel. Cisco’s SASE offering also scales very well, with Points of Presence around the world. In addition to pre-login security, Cisco also doesn’t forget about post-login security. That’s why it developed Wi-Fi Fingerprint. This new feature makes it possible to offer continuous trusted access. The interesting thing about this feature is that it does not reveal where you are geographically, because that is undesirable. It scans the SSIDs in the area and thus determines whether an employee is in an environment where he or she can access the company network and resources with full privileges or not.
The cloud also plays an important role for Cisco in the area of security. During his keynote, Patel talked about, among other things, a firewall management center as a SaaS solution. This allows you to manage on-prem and cloud firewalls from a single location in the cloud.
All in all, Cisco wants to provide an end-to-end platform solution for prevention, detection, response and threat intelligence. The management of that platform must happen at a central location too. For that, Cisco seems to select the cloud.
Finally, there is the issue of lock-in. A vendor like Cisco has a very extensive portfolio. That immediately conjures up images of vendor lock-in. That may have been the case in the past, but has changed in accurate years. The fact that Cisco uses OpenAPI standards is an example of this. So you don’t have to buy everything from Cisco, and still have deep integrations with third-party tooling.
A final example of integration within Cisco and thus of simplifying offerings and reducing complexity is ThousandEyes WAN Insights. With Cisco’s acquisition of ThousandEyes a few years ago, Cisco acquired new WAN capabilities. One of those capabilities is ThousandEyes WAN Insights, which Cisco announced during Cisco Live. This is an integration between ThousandEyes’ offering and Cisco’s SD-WAN offering. In other words, it links the configurations of WAN connections to cloud services and other sites to the insights ThousandEyes has around the quality of the global backbone.
The idea behind ThousandEyes WAN Insights is that it is becoming increasingly important but also increasingly complex to optimally configure connections across the WAN. With this new offering, ThousandEyes continuously analyzes so-called path metrics from Cisco vAnalytics. Based on that, ThousandEyes WAN Insights provides recommendations back to Cisco SD-WAN to optimally route outbound traffic.
So ThousandEyes WAN Insights is about analyzing each individual path, not merely the connection between sites as a whole. In practice, there are often several such paths per connection. These often run via different networks, such as a provider’s fiber optic network and MPLS. According to the ThousandEyes WAN Insights announcement, it needs an average of at least 24 hours to gather the data it needs to make recommendations.
At the end of the day, the outcome of ThousandEyes WAN Insights should be that applications/environments such as Webex, Salesforce, Office 365 and Google Cloud perform better and that connections between branch offices and a data center have a higher availability and perform better.
More generally, according to Cisco, ThousandEyes WAN Insights allows you to move from a reactive to a proactive attitude. You no longer solve problems after they occur and your organization is therefore affected by them, but before this is the case. As far as we understand it, there is no automation yet of the steps to be taken to fix the upcoming problem. That is, ITOps teams need to get to work with the input from ThousandEyes. Toward the future, it should become possible to automate that step.
The announcements and strategy discussed in this article shows that Cisco takes its role as a major player in the IT and security industry seriously. It has to as well, by the way, otherwise it will lose that role. It is good to see that Cisco looks critically at its own offering too. Addressing the complexity of the current landscape starts with reducing complexity in its own offering. Not everyone will be happy with the changes. Then again, that always happens when you fundamentally change things.
Mind you, merging Meraki and Catalyst is also simply necessary in order to keep up with the other players. Enterprise networking is inexorably on the way to being cloud-managed. That’s the way it is nowadays. We are curious to see whether Meraki can carry and propagate the Catalyst legacy (in the positive sense of the word) from the cloud. In any case, Cisco will have to work hard to demonstrate the added value of this. It will certainly do so, if we are to believe Nightingale: “We are going to make it so convincing that customers will want to make the switch themselves.” That’s a nice promise, one we’ll keep in mind. We’ll be sure to come back to it in subsequent conversations with people at Cisco, too.
When you think of a typical startup, what words come to mind? “Progressive and trendy?” “Lean and innovative?” “Agile and engaged?”
Now, think of a classic Fortune 500 enterprise. Odds are, a large corporation that’s been around for decades invokes a different set of notions – perhaps “bureaucratic,” “too political,” “hierarchical,” “legacy” and perhaps a bit “outmoded” ring true.
Despite the intrinsic differences between startups and enterprises, one thing is certain: The pace of change in today’s market is so fast and volatile that companies of all sizes risk their very survival unless they become more disruptive and more innovative. In fact, both startups and enterprises are at risk, as 90 percent of startups fail, and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies may cease to exist in 10 years.
While there’s no silver bullet solution to success, large organizations can more readily adapt to the new business climate by developing a culture of open collaboration, and most importantly, innovation – that is, hyper co-innovation.
For startups, innovation is treated as a team sport, where a diverse set of players from all departments and roles inside and outside the company are as important as the ideas they generate. This is a stark contrast to a traditional enterprise’s approach, where innovation is often treated as a more rigid, defined process. But by changing their mindset and approach, even large enterprises can unleash the innovative nature that is within their employees and become more disruptive. Here’s how to think like a startup, but scale like an enterprise – and balance the best of both worlds.
Innovation can come from anywhere, anytime. Employees in all job functions and at all levels should be encouraged to come up with innovative ideas and given the support needed to implement them.
At Cisco, we’ve personally experienced the success that comes from this mindset through our Innovate Everywhere Challenge, a companywide, cross-functional innovation competition that mirrors real-life startup practices. Employees from all job roles and levels are encouraged to form teams and pitch their innovative ideas for everything from business process improvements to new digital solutions. Teams with the best ideas are given funding, mentorship and time off from their regular job functions to make their ideas a reality.
One of the most successful projects to arise from the challenge was LifeChanger, which helps people with disabilities work remotely by leveraging voice, video and collaboration technologies. To date, more than 100 people with disabilities have gained access to meaningful employment through LifeChanger, and several other organizations are looking to implement the solution as well.
To begin thinking more like a startup, leaders should first emphasize cross-functional teams, think outside of functions and break down business-unit silos. This will ensure that you are tapping into the best and brightest ideas. We know from experience and research that the most valuable digital solutions come from teams with different backgrounds and perspectives.
Second, enable transparent digital communication amongst teams and stakeholders. This could involve setting up an online forum, establishing a mentor network, or disseminating employee surveys and sharing the feedback.
Leaders must also be flexible. Encourage rapid prototyping for solutions – validate concepts with potential customers early on, pivot fast and take risks. And when something does not work, empower teams to learn from failures and move on to the next idea.
Lastly, understand that innovation is in everything: innovation should be integral to the way a company conducts day-to-day business, not just an approach to developing new products. Therefore, focus on people – not just technology – when incubating new ideas.
On the other side of the coin, large enterprises also embody a core set of strengths, resources and partnerships that can accelerate innovation, such as their ability to quickly scale and get products to market.
Most successful enterprises actively build their ecosystems, leveraging vertical, horizontal and local partners to ensure the scalability, mass customization and reach of their solutions. They also know how to set their sights on clearly defined, broader goals, understanding that innovation is about more than delivering a cool new app or futuristic device.
Enterprises focus on the business outcomes and value at stake, rather than taking a scattered approach driven by passions that can be fleeting or change over time. Plus, they have established customers, partners and marketing channels to broaden exposure and credibility of innovative ideas.
Use these attributes and resources to your advantage as you begin to weave the startup mindset into your culture.
As you take the best characteristics from both successful startups and enterprises, the next step is to ignite a startup culture by engaging and challenging employees to innovate. Here’s how:
Innovation programs must be extended to all employees, across departments, levels and roles. From there, encourage inclusion and diversity of perspectives, and empower employees to make decisions and tap into their inner entrepreneur.
As employees innovate, support their ideas with mentor networks, angel investors and other resources that an genuine startup would use. This will help lead your internal innovators through the four phases of a lean startup: ideation, validation, funding and development.
Use not only gamification to make innovation fun, but also introduce rewards (monetary, time off, etc.) as incentives. Additionally, look for opportunities to secure publicity for the innovative ideas or solutions your employees create. Highlighting their accomplishments is extremely rewarding for them, spurs further engagement and innovation from other employees, and can bolster your company’s brand reputation.
Designate an internal champion to lead your innovation initiatives and attain buy-in from the higher-ups, all the way to the C-Suite. Most importantly, your champion can help you discover existing, untapped talent by engaging as many employees as possible and sharing what your programs have to offer.
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to innovation, especially for global companies. Every stakeholder in the mix (including employees) has a different set of personalities, priorities and passions. And there will always be polarities of tension between established and startup practices in a big company. Therefore, customize and balance your program’s approach to stimulating employee innovation, blending both the startup and large enterprise mindsets. As innovation expert and author, Michael Docherty, advises: “Embrace the power of AND,” referring to the required blend of more than one approach to innovation.
By combining the best attributes of a startup culture with the scalability of an enterprise, competing in an age of disruption is a far less daunting. The goal is to transform your organization and its culture by empowering and inspiring employees – regardless of role, rank, or region – to innovate. Then, providing a wealth of resources, training and incentives, nurture their innovation to bring big ideas to market. With employees innovating anytime, anywhere, you’ll better your entire organization – and change the world while you’re at it.
Published 5 hours ago
Submitted by Cisco Systems, Inc.
The Transformational Tech series highlights Cisco’s nonprofit grant recipients that use technology to help transform the lives of individuals and communities. NESsT has worked for decades to support social enterprises with grant funding, training, mentorship, and other resources that help to create quality jobs for underserved communities.
NESsT supports social enterprises that provide employment and career development opportunities for underserved communities—a vital, often missing component to humanitarian aid work. NESsT uses an engaged approach, providing tailored financing, a variety of tech-enabled assessment tools and action plans across all stages of development, one-on-one advisory services, and networking support to social entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
NESsT has benefited from Cisco’s funding support for multiple initiatives, and now Cisco will provide seed funding for NESsT to establish a NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative, so they can better support and strengthen local social enterprises that create dignified jobs and wraparound services for Ukrainian refugees.
In 25 years, NESsT has built a strong foundation of supporting social entrepreneurs in emerging markets, especially in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America. When the conflict in Ukraine began, NESsT was already in position to help the more than 4.9 million refugees that have left Ukraine. Many have sought refuge in Poland and Romania, and all of them will need displacement support. Both temporary and permanent employment will help them regain a sense of security.
Growing from seed (funding)
Back in 1997, Nicole Etchart started NESsT out of a need to help nonprofit organizations work in more sustainable ways. The founders felt that traditional companies alone couldn’t create enough job opportunities to lift people out of poverty. They also knew that nonprofits were too dependent on short-term grant funding preventing them from achieving long-term impact. So they created NESsT to provide social enterprises, whether for-profit on not-for-profit, with the tools and capital needed to launch financially sustainable businesses while addressing poverty and exclusion.
Nicole shared, “Although we have gone through several iterations, NESsT has always been committed to supporting social entrepreneurs to launch and grow companies committed to social impact.”
NESsT’s incubation program offers customized support and flexible financing for social enterprises. But that’s not all. NESsT also provides supporting resources for these entrepreneurs, like trainings and mentorship, so they can help as many people gain secure and dignified employment as possible.
NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative
For decades, NESsT has operated in the Central European region (including Hungary, Poland, and Romania). So when the current conflict in Ukraine began, NESsT responded by establishing the NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative to expand opportunities for dignified employment and income generation opportunities for Ukrainians displaced from their homes.
Nicole stated, “It became very evident that we had an important role to play, because although the immediate needs were humanitarian–to help refugees access shelter and food—every refugee will also need access to a job, and that’s what NESsT does. Companies in the NESsT portfolio in Poland and Romania have begun to react and expand their networks so that they could begin working with refugees.”
Through the Ukrainian Refugee Fund, NESsT has initially committed to donating €3million through 15 investments. They estimate that their support will help in the creation of 2,000 jobs for refugees, impacting as many as 5,000 people.
In the months since, NESsT has been hard at work, selecting and investing in local social enterprises and cooperatives that are committed to integrating refugees into jobs and/or workforce training. NESsT’s portfolio businesses have committed to helping Ukrainian refugees gain their livelihoods back—one example is Future Collars.
Future Collars teaches IT skills to at-risk and low-income women. When the Ukrainian conflict began, Future Collars organized and launched a “Welcome Home” campaign, including outreach, to provide refugee women with job training and placement to fill skills gaps in Poland. The enterprise also plans to set up a scholarship fund to help refugees from Ukraine access career training.
Providing a foundation for long term recovery
Beyond providing food, shelter, and other basic needs to displaced people, the need to help them build the skills and resiliency they will need for long term recovery is often overlooked.
NESsT’s work is a testament to the importance of empowering people with the skills to help rebuild their communities. In 25 years, NESsT has invested in over 223 companies. They have helped to create close to 77,000 quality jobs, impacting close to a million people. In their most accurate employment survey, they found that 85 percent of people polled feel stable and secure in their jobs. And the income of those impacted by their portfolio was, on average, 144 percent over minimum wage.
To date, NESsT has assessed 489 social enterprises in Romania, and granted funds and business training to a selection of them. In return, these 26 businesses have influenced over 2,600 at-risk individuals through new economic opportunities.
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Rumours about Manchester being among the greyest and rainiest parts of the UK are true; it was made abundantly clear within days of moving here from London two-and-half years ago. Plop me in the middle of the beautifully warm desert and the bustling Las Vegas life, however, and you’ve got a perfect playbook to please a northern-based Brit.
It was my first time abroad since COVID-19 took hold and I’ve been itching to get back to in-person conferences since. Everyone from senior execs to delegates shared in this energy, with the community feel at Cisco Live 2022 shining through.
The networking giant put on a great show that felt as grand as ever, despite the reduced attendance. But a limitless supply of goodwill and upbeat energy couldn’t mask a handful of frailties, particularly given Cisco’s troubles during 2022 so far, as well as its muddled messaging around hybrid work. Although the industry giant made strides in terms of security and networking, sweeping claims it’s solved a list of issues with the new way of working were less convincing.
One of the standout observations of Cisco Live 2022 was the company’s ingenious framing of its innovation strategy. Cisco threaded its key themes of unification, visibility, observability and simplification throughout the week’s programme as well as in its product launches and the approaches it highlighted.
This philosophy was put into action in the way it showcased how new cloud management products for Catalyst and Nexus switches bring greater visibility to enterprise networks, for example. Cisco also showed how a unified identity and access client can make both employees’ and IT teams’ lives easier.
IT departments can start benefiting from Cisco’s approach to innovation today, and the networking giant did a great job of showing it prioritised its customers’ needs. High praise indeed, given my oft-cynical outlook on such claims.
Cisco was clear that it believes businesses are facing an increasingly complex IT environment. Business-critical applications are all over the place, residing in different clouds and other areas, impacting the efficiency of IT teams. All of this is compounded by the rise of hybrid work. This, in turn, is adversely impacting the end-user experience too, and is why the company is embracing a platform approach to new products, which it believes will allow for better interoperability and happier IT teams generally.
Cisco, ultimately, showed attendees it wants to make their lives easier, which went hand-in-hand with the gratitude CEO Chuck Robbins voiced to customers for sticking with the company over the past few years. This was a little more than a nod to its supply chain issues, that have had a knock-on effect on its financial performance.
Incidentally, there was little mention of the post-pandemic issues the company has been facing, but Cisco Live 2022 didn’t go without assurances that concerns are being taken care of. The firm even made light of its struggles at times, with Robbins and Ford CEO Jim Farley, for example, lamenting their shared supply chain issues while discussing a new partnership (more on that later).
Work from anywhere: Empowering the future of work
Employees want to work from anywhere, IT needs to be able to support this shiftFree download
A reduced audience capacity exemplified the theme of hybrid work, which the company says is here to stay. However, “hybrid work doesn’t work…yet” was the tagline of its second and final keynote address – which Cisco somewhat wasted – and was used to justify a slate of product launches the company feels will ‘solve’ the issues this model presents. These amount to a disconnect in meetings between office-based and remote workers, and issues with non-verbal communication in video conferencing setups.
Live virtual whiteboard software took care of the latter point, with office-based and remote workers collaborating on a shared document, all powered by Webex Desk hardware. Non-verbal communication was more interesting to me as a linguistics graduate who spent time studying it. The artificial intelligence (AI) tools coming to Webex that beam the faces of in-person attendees into individual windows during a video call, were impressive, but I failed to see how it’d genuinely replicate the social cues and body language signals that are often missing from hybrid meetings, despite Cisco’s best efforts to convince otherwise.
Among Cisco’s new units were also all-in-one specialist video conferencing stations of varying sizes – launches that one exec told me they believed to be original innovations, despite the fact I pointed out many already exist in the market. Some units were unique, granted, but I had to ask Cisco if I was misinterpreting these outlandish claims.
To my surprise, I misinterpreted nothing. Aruna Ravichandran, SVP and CMO at Webex by Cisco, told me that yes – Cisco does, in fact, believe it’s solved the hybrid work issues it identified with these launches as well as in-development augmented reality (AR) and hologram tech. Possibly an extension of the metaverse trend, the products allow people to take more meetings throughout their homes – which sounds awful – but there was some admittedly cool AI tech baked into the hardware, too.
Cisco’s partnership with Ford, meanwhile, involves shipping vehicles with Webex functionality as standard. I was told, and I kid you not, this wasn’t only so workers could take meetings in the car – which also sounds awful – but also for those times lots of employees are in the same car together, and need to be in the same meeting – which beyond being highly implausible, sounds awful again.
Cisco should have just led on the genuine innovations it’s bringing to the table, rather than make sweeping claims around ‘solving hybrid work’. There’s nothing wrong with trying to promote its latest products – just don’t frame it to be the silver bullet it most certainly isn't.
In 2019, Cisco pushed the rather confusing message “you make possible”, which was printed on complimentary t-shirts and backpacks. Three years on, I still can’t get my head around what it means. Even a now-former member of Cisco’s US comms team mocked the strapline, at the time.
One pandemic later, Cisco’s messaging is still a little skew-whiff, but the overriding sentiment remains the same. The networking giant used Cisco Live 2022 to thank customers and imbue the impression its future is in safe hands, despite the turbulence of accurate months.
I thought this approach was well executed, while its new security and networking products represented solid steps in the right direction. IT teams will be pleased with the additional capabilities coming into their hands, too, and leave with the promise that once that supply chain backlog clears, Cisco will be back to breaking earnings records once again.
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn., July 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- ConvergeOne, the preeminent services-led provider of cloud, collaboration and digital modernization solutions, today announced that it has received the Cisco Environmental Sustainability Specialization for its efforts to help customers move to the latest technologies while responsibly recycling or refurbishing used hardware.
With this specialization, ConvergeOne demonstrates its commitment to partnering with Cisco to make a positive environmental impact and eliminate wasteful practices by enacting a circular consumption model. In a business environment made even more competitive by economic changes and global concerns, ConvergeOne helps customers make smart decisions that turn challenges and obstacles into alternatives and opportunities.
ConvergeOne has a longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability. Recently, ConvergeOne received the Bronze sustainability rating from EcoVadis, an independent rating agency that assesses environmental performance and corporate social responsibility. The Bronze rating places ConvergeOne in the top 50 percent of global companies within the same industry for its sustainability management system and advanced approach to corporate social responsibility.
"Our sustainability strategy centers around our commitment to doing what's right and making an impact. With the Cisco Environmental Sustainability Specialization, we demonstrate our ability to help customers achieve key sustainability targets by finding new ways to repurpose their existing technologies," said John A. McKenna Jr., Chairman and CEO, ConvergeOne. "ConvergeOne differentiates and reimagines the future with proven, progressive and purposeful solutions. In these times of disruption and resilience, we are purpose-built to play a critical role in building a better future for our team, our customers and communities."
ConvergeOne is a leading Cisco partner that has also been awarded the distinctions of Cisco Master Collaboration, Security, Data Center & Hybrid Cloud, and Advanced Customer Experience Specializations. With these Master and Advanced Specializations, ConvergeOne is recognized as a top-tier Cisco partner with the highest skill level and expertise in architectures across the entire Cisco portfolio.
ConvergeOne has earned distinction as a Cisco Gold Partner for possessing broad expertise across multiple disciplines and demonstrating a measurably high level of customer satisfaction in assisting customers with infrastructure and applications cloud modernization. By delivering purpose-built solutions, ConvergeOne helps customers manage risk and accelerate digital transformation with modern infrastructure that is flexible, dynamic, and able to evolve with the needs of the business.
For more than a decade, ConvergeOne has developed deep technical expertise across the entire Cisco portfolio, including Cloud Customer Experience, Cyber Security, Data Center, Enterprise Networking, and Unified Communications. ConvergeOne was recognized with five awards at the Cisco Partner Summit 2021. Notably, ConvergeOne received the Global Award for Customer Experience Partner of the Year for rising to market shifts and demonstrating transformative thought leadership for customers transitioning to subscription and XaaS pricing models.
ConvergeOne is a proven, services led cloud and applications solution provider that utilizes its intellectual property and unique methodologies to create value for customers and develop progressive solutions that connect people with purpose. Over 14,000 enterprise and mid-market customers trust ConvergeOne to achieve their business outcomes with cloud, collaboration, enterprise networking, data center and cybersecurity solutions. Our investments in cloud infrastructure and professional and managed services provide transformational opportunities for customers to achieve financial and operational benefits with leading technologies. Our 2021 NPS of 80, placing us in the World Class category for the fourth consecutive year, is a testament to our ability to provide customers with the highest level of customer satisfaction, responsiveness and expertise. ConvergeOne has partnerships with more than 300 global industry leaders, including Dell Technologies, AWS, Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Genesys, and Microsoft to customize specific business outcomes. We deliver solutions with a total lifecycle approach, including strategy, design and implementation with professional, managed and support services. ConvergeOne holds more than 5,600 technical certifications across hundreds of engineers throughout North America, including three Customer Success Centers. More information is available at convergeone.com.
Cisco is the worldwide leader in technology that powers the Internet. Cisco inspires new possibilities by reimagining your applications, securing your enterprise, transforming your infrastructure, and empowering your teams for a global and inclusive future. Discover more on The Network and follow Cisco on Twitter at @Cisco.
ConvergeOne Media Contact:
Gabrielle Lukianchuk, Vice President, Marketing, ConvergeOne
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Inflow, a leading player in the IT Distribution Services market in India and South Asia, in partnership with Cisco launched the next-generation Center of Excellence (CoE) at Inflow’s Bangalore office. The CoE was inaugurated by Daisy Chittilapilly, President, Cisco India, and SAARC. With this, Inflow is now the only distributor with a CoE for Cisco Cybersecurity, Enterprise Network, Meraki, UCC, and Data Center Solutions in India. The Centre of Excellence aims to provide partners and customers with the finest experience of Cisco’s solutions and accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies.
The Inflow Center of Excellence is created to depict a range of new use cases across Cisco’s portfolios such as SASE, Meraki First, Cisco Catalyst Full Stack, Cloud Conferencing, and Full Stack Observability (FSO), and Hybrid Cloud to help partners showcase the same to their customers. The CoE is a one-stop solution platform that provides customers an immersive experience of Cisco’s advanced cross-architecture solutions. It can model specific, real-time scenarios and offer channel partners a first-hand understanding of these solutions.Channel partners can leverage this resource to add value for their customers and help them capitalize on emerging business opportunities.
Santosh Sankunny, Sr. Vice President of Inflow Technologies, commented, “The Inflow CoE will act as a center to provide solutions based on real world challenges, including providing security and IoT solutions to our channel partners. This is an important step in furthering our overarching dedication to creating a simulated environment to showcase some of the best use cases and evolve with the latest and the most powerful technologies available today. As the need for managing and securing information is modernizing day by day, the Centre of Excellence will help channel partners to drive business value and focus on recognizing the benefits of a secured and reliable approach.”
Daisy Chittilapilly, President, Cisco India, and SAARC, said, “The past two years have fast-tracked digitization by several years, and many of our customers are turning to cloud-based solutions to transform their businesses at speed and scale. The next-generation center of excellence is a platform to demonstrate to our customers and partners how Cisco’s cloud-delivered solutions enable best-in-class visibility, manageability, security, and connectivity for enterprises. We’re excited to join hands with Inflow Technologies to bring new possibilities of our technology to life.”
About Inflow Technologies:
Inflow Technologies was founded in the year 2005 and is headquartered in Bangalore. A niche player in the IT Distribution Services market in India / South Asia. Inflow Technologies addresses the growing needs of organizations to manage and secure information more effectively and intelligently. The team at Inflow Technologies are well-versed with the latest and the most powerful technologies available today for locating, organizing, managing, retrieving, analysing, protecting, and presenting information.
Being a VAD (Value Add Distributor) we cater to Cyber Security, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Networking, Automatic Identification and Data Capture & POS, Infrastructure & Application Software, Storage Management, Electronic Security products & related Services in South Asia.
We have direct relationships with 55+Global Technology vendors, have a strong channel of 2300+ partners, offering one or more solutions to 20,000+ end customers. Learn More: www.inflowtechnologies.com
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