Cisco today launched what it claimed is a "ground-breaking" evolution of networking, with a range of new hardware and software products.
Billing it as the "network of the future", Cisco talked up its advancements in network security, real-time analytics and shifting towards a more software-focused strategy.
On a conference call with journalists this morning, Gordon Thomson, director of Cisco's EMEAR enterprise networking sales, said the launches were "a fundamental shift in terms of how we've been doing things in networking for 30 years".
"Analytics, automation and security are how we're changing networking forever," he said. "We can automate manual processes in a way that we've never been able to automate manual processes before.
"Real-time analytical capabilities allow us to secure the network in a way we've never been able to before and in a way no other vendor can.
"If you think those things are valuable then there's only one networking vendor on the planet that can deliver against that."
Thomson broke down the extensive Cisco announcement into three key areas: the launch of DNA Centre, a centralised dashboard for managing a network; a new series of IoT-ready Cisco Catalyst switches; and improved security capabilities.
He added that the announcements are proof of Cisco shifting to a greater software focus, with the switches being made available via a software subscription model.
"This fabric is created with our existing product portfolio, but at the same time we've been designing a series of new hardware products from the ground up that is going to embrace what is required for the future of networking for the next five to 10 years," he said.
"The new Catalyst switches are delivered via a software subscription model, so it's not delivered in the traditional way. You buy the hardware and the software is decoupled from the hardware, so all these features are bought on a one-, three-, or five-year basis. There's an ability for our channel to create a stickier and close relationship with their customers.
"A lot of what we're talking about today is software driven - Cisco is very invested in developing its software portfolio - but at the same time we realise hardware is still critical to Cisco's success."
Justin Harling, managing director at Cisco Gold partner CAE Technology Services, argued that the new Cisco products are a step change for the networking industry and bring together a lot of Cisco's recent innovation.
"It's a combination of a number of strands which have been worked on for a period of time," he told CRN. "You've seen elements of what's been announced in product lines previously - what we haven't seen before is product lines brought together and packaged so neatly, but this is what Cisco does so well.
"For a number of years there has been lots of analyst talk around software-defined and how different it is going to make the market. In typical fashion everyone is always looking to kill something with a new technology and people were saying software-defined is going to be the death of Cisco's core switching, which I think has been proved to be nonsense.
"As a technology is talked about more, it gets incorporated into existing infrastructure and you're seeing that here, but the difference is that we really don't think this is Cisco paying lip service to software-defined."
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