Months after launching products and services around intent-based networking, Cisco’s push towards software-driven solutions are paying off. In India, both software products and services are contributing 40% to its business which is slightly higher than the global average of 33%.
In an exclusive interview with Mohd Ujaley, Cisco’s Managing Director – Enterprise Sales, Rajesh Shetty said, “A substantial movement in recurring business is coming from the customers who are moving down the path of software,” adding that India has almost two and a half times of global average in terms of penetration of Cisco in the market.”
How has been Indian businesses response to Cisco Network Intuitive solutions launched last year?
India is right now leading the Cisco globally in terms of customers who have adopted some portion of Intent-Based Networking (IBN). Different customers are at different level of their IBN journey. We have about 150 customers who have already deployed Catalyst 9000 switch. Globally, we are the number one country for Cisco DNA Centre adoption and as you know DNA Centre is an integral part of our Intent Based Networking solutions. Cisco has the largest network in the world and it is obvious that the adoption of DNA Centre will increase gradually.
To make Intent Based Networking more robust, we have added a new element of security to DNA Centre. And, we aim to continue to invest more. At Cisco, there has been a tremendous amount of acquisitions and we have incorporated those acquisitions into our overall solutions to deliver simplicity, automation and analytics.
What verticals are adopting IBN and what pattern do you see among them?
Any new technology which comes out, we find that IT services companies are the one who adopts it first. If you look at the Intent Based Networking, the biggest advantage is the simplicity in terms of setting up communities. That fits into the requirement of ITeS extremely well. Every single ITeS customer has multiple offshore development centres (ODCs) and ODCs are typically on a shared infrastructure. The communities helped them to create a very seamless environment for their employees.
Previously it used to take them almost two to three weeks to do this. It used to be a planned activity and that means the complexity of deploying ODC used to be very high. They used to have anywhere between 2000 to 5000 people managing just the ODC part of a deployment. Today by deploying Intent Based Networking, they have made that into an automated process. So it takes zero configuration. Everything is done in an automated fashion.
With Intent Based Networking, has anything fundamentally changed for networking?
Absolutely, the provisioning has become completely automated. Earlier, everybody needed to create Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs). And, those had to be isolated with the help of firewalls with a lot of configuration on the switch. But with Intent Based Networking, by using the community feature, one can eliminate the old requirement of internal facing firewalls or ODC facing firewalls.
The other advantage is that now the IP address submitting and managing or running out of IP networks – all that goes away because one can have ten addresses as an example and create communities. So with Intent Based Networking, the whole provisioning, configuring and the management changes, despite physical layout being the same.
Most of the firms have already significantly invested in IT infrastructure and the IBN requires new investment in networking. Are the businesses ready to revamp their network?
You are right. They will need new switches, routers and wireless. The existing switches obviously don’t fit into that, so they will have to do some revamping of their network and the customers are very much willing to go down that path because they see the tremendous benefit coming out of that from their business perspective.
The 150 customers of Cisco that have adopted Intent Based Networking, are they new customers or the existing one?
Currently, the majority of them are our old customers. They are refreshing their old equipment which they have sweated out over a period of time. The number of new customers is fairly limited now because the industry is going through a validation phase. The biggest chunk of customers are those who have been holding on to go and do the refresh, are now going aggressively on the refresh path.
You mentioned about Catalyst 9000 switch, on that switch, you are now putting software controller in the form of DNA Centre but how this is different from what companies like VMware, Juniper or others are doing?
I have seen this in all my years in Cisco. When Cisco comes out with some sort of unique solution, most of our competitors end up talking the same language that ‘we also have it’. But the differentiator that comes from Cisco’s point of view is that we don’t differentiate on the box. Frankly, we don’t even have to differentiate much on the software. We differentiate on the end user.
Cisco being an end to end networking company, we have routing, switching, wireless, collaboration and security. We are able to offer Intent Based Networking on an end to end basis. You configure a policy, that configuration is spread across the entire network. None of our point product competitors is in that position. They are there in one area. If you look at VMware, their focus is very much on the data centre part. Similarly, Juniper can talk on the routing side. Arista can do on the switching side but we are the only company who can do it on an end to end.
That’s one of the reasons why the customers prefer Cisco. They don’t want to be in the similar scenario as they are taking disparate solutions from multiple vendors, and they have to create a platform on which they can automate. Cisco provides that with DNA Center. And that’s a big advantage that they see.
What is the general business momentum for Cisco in India?
The momentum is extremely strong in enterprise, public sector and the commercial market and also in the SMB space. The SMB space is growing very healthy. Our growth rates in India are much higher than our growth rates outside India that means globally Cisco is following a growth rate and we are far in excess of that. India is one of the topmost when it comes to growth countries of Cisco globally.
From the business momentum perspective, how software and recurring revenue are working out for Cisco in India?
About 33% of Cisco business is coming from software and services. From India’s point of view, we are at 40%, so we are leading Cisco globally. A substantial movement in our recurring business is coming from the customers who are moving down the path of software. India has almost two and a half times of global average in terms of penetration of Cisco in the market.