As enterprises build their digital strategies, IT infrastructure is rapidly evolving to keep up to these changes. Throughout these changes, the network remains vital. In the coming days, network will become critical than ever with the increased demand for connectivity, thanks to the rise of mobile workforce, the internet of things, and proliferation of cloud applications. In a recent discussion with CXOToday, Rajesh Shetty, Managing Director – Enterprise Sales, Cisco India & SAARC, explains how Cisco is speeding up its network innovation efforts and why the company is so bullish about the India market.
CXOToday: With more and more businesses relying on data-driven decision-making and are communicating through mobile and social media platforms, how is Cisco ‘reinventing the network’?
Rajesh Shetty: It’s no surprise that the tech industry changes all the time. Even the world of networking has undoubtedly undergone a sea change. If you look at the earlier networks, they were complex and required a lot of configuration and managing those was not only challenging, but time consuming as well. Now if you look at the world of digitization and the way organizations are evolving, everything has to be simplified, keeping cost and efficiency in mind. So that’s why we are basically moving to what we call Network-Intuitive or intent-based networking. By reinventing the network, we aim to make the network nimble and agile, so that the applications or the business requirements can be met quicker. To give you an example, with millions of devices connected to the internet, security threats are a growing concern across the world. Cisco’s intuitive network uses intent-based analytics and machine learning to track encrypted traffic’s characteristics and identifies if there is malware in it and acts on it whenever necessary. This way, it simplifies some of the major challenges organizations face today.
CXOToday: Do you see a greater adoption towards multi-cloud strategy among Indian enterprises? If yes, why do you think so?
Rajesh Shetty: In today’s world, there is no single cloud. It’s a multi-cloud world, where organizations use multiple cloud services from multiple providers. This type of cloud strategy can span an organization’s networking, security, analytics, management and infrastructure strategies. Take for example, Cisco’s partnership with Google that is aimed at building more efficient multi-cloud solutions to the enterprise. In other words, this partnership enables IT departments to seamlessly take advantage of open, secure tools for building modern applications in a multi-cloud environment.
CXOToday: At the recent Cisco India Summit last month, you did mention about the company is getting increasingly bullish on the SMB segment. What is your focus on the SMB segment in India?
Rajesh Shetty: We are betting heavily on the SMBs and expect a lot of boost from this segment in the coming years. From what we have seen, many SMBs are leveraging technology very effectively, and with the emergence of GST things seem to be moving much faster. Despite that, challenges remain. To reduce cost, time and complexities, more SMBs are looking to leverage cloud solutions and Cisco has a big role to play here. We have had around 30,000 SMB customers in India in 2017, and are looking at triple our SMB customer base in India over the next three years to 90,000 customers. So, with this aggressive bet, our revenue from this segment is expected to increase in the coming years.
CXOToday: What are your plans for the Indian enterprise market?
Rajesh Shetty: Cisco internationally is very bullish about India. In every quarterly announcement, we have been talking about India, and our plans and commitment to the India market. It is a key growth market and we are very confident the way the country’s enterprise customers are growing and looking to adopt new technologies. We are playing a huge role in the entire digitization journey of the enterprise. The hardware still forms a chunk of our business, but currently close to about 40% of our business comes from software. This figure is 8% higher than the global average, which is 32%. This transition has helped Cisco in exploring the entire digitization drive, as every business is moving towards a software centric model. We are seeing a robust growth in our conferencing platform Webex and a huge amount of SDA deployment. We will continue to focus on networking, security, software and services and will cater to verticals such as BFSI, IT-ITeS and manufacturing. For retail and education, we will be looking at network as a service.
CXOToday: With a phenomenal rise of security threats, is Cisco rethinking its security strategies? In that sense, how are you helping enterprises guard their turf?
Rajesh Shetty: As we are increasingly securing cloud infrastructure alog with the network, security is naturally a key area of our business. In order to stay ahead of the sophisticated threats, we are rethinking security and have been actively working in the areas of data security, using business analytics, AI and machine learning to detect threats, as is the case with intent based networking. Our advanced malware protection (AMP) offers real-time sandboxing or blocking by analysing file activity across extended enterprise networks. It has until now blocked 19.7 billion threats daily with 600 billion email samples checked and 16 billion web requests denied. We are also looking in to cash in on managed security services. In India, we have 1,000 people in research and development out of the total global strength of 5,000 engineers and over 250 security researchers. HDFC Bank, IIT Roorkee and Infosys were a few companies that had adopted our security products. We are working very closely with our customers as trusted partners, and helping them in terms of going down this whole digitization path.
CXOToday: Cisco has been actively participating in the various digital initiatives by the Central and state governments’. Can you tell us something about your plans in this sector going forward?
Rajesh Shetty: India is very important market for Cisco and we’ve made some tremendous amount of investments in areas such as building the startup ecosystem and working on projects under the Government of India, such as smart cities. Out of the 100 cities selected by the Government of India, 14 cities have already bid or have started the process and we have 80% share in these 14, which is a lion’s share. We are also making investments to help government digitize faster, and working in areas such as the national broadband network and the defence networks.