Archive for April 2015

In the era of digitization, standing alone, selling products, and being a traditional box pusher just isn’t going to cut it.

With thousands of its channel partners gathered in Montreal this week for Cisco Partner Summit 2015, Cisco is promoting a “Be Bold” theme, urging community members to think differently about their role as partners and the way they deliver solutions to customers.

The digital transformation, pervasive across all industries, is driving the need for boldness. In almost every presentation I’ve attended at the event, I’ve heard about digitization and its disruptive effect on legacy businesses. From my perspective, the impact of digital transformation has yet to really be felt but will be over the next decade. Organizations that can become natively digital will leapfrog their competition; those that can’t will struggle to survive.

At the Cisco Partner Summit in Montreal, partners are more willing to take chances in the market because of Cisco’s track record of success.

In the New England area, when talking about the Patriots we often hear the phrase “in Belichick we trust.” The expression comes from the fact that no matter what crazy thing Patriots head coach and general manager Bill Belichick does, it turns out to be the right thing. Bench Drew Bledsoe in favor of a rookie named Tom Brady drafted in the sixth round? No problem, win a Super Bowl. Cut defensive stalwarts Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy? Again, no big deal, win another Super Bowl. How about sign a legendary malcontent like Randy Moss? Go 16-0 and make the Super Bowl. It seems success creates trust no matter how crazy the idea may sound.

Living up to John McAdam’s legacy as F5 Networks’ CEO won’t be easy, but Manny Rivelo just might be the man to do it.

Stepping into the shoes of someone who had a tremendous amount of success isn’t easy. Sometimes the shadow created from the incumbent is so big that it’s almost impossible to live up to expectations. Consider the flop that was Van Halen when Sammy Hagar took over from David Lee Roth. Or every Dolphins, Bills, or Jets QB since Marino, Kelly, and Namath.

However, once in a while the person taking over is as good or better than the incumbent. A good example of this is when Manny Ramirez took over playing left field for the Boston Red Sox. The previous few left fielders included the likes of Mike Greenwell and Jim Rice, who were great in their own right, but Manny took it to another level.

This week, F5 Networks, the de facto standard in the application delivery controller market, announced that it had found a replacement for outgoing CEO John McAdam. The company will be promoting its own Manny Rivelo to follow in the footsteps of McAdam. Rivelo is currently F5’s EVP of strategic solutions and has been at the company since 2011. Rivelo is a well-seasoned industry professional with a resume that includes a 19-year career at former enemy (now BFF), Cisco.

At RSA, vendors are promoting new methods for preventing data breaches.

The 2015 edition of the RSA conference is being held this week in San Francisco. It appears this year’s show had over 30,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors, both up considerably from last year. Security is an interesting IT topic because it tends to ebb and flow between being really important to the most important thing IT leaders are working on. Right now, it’s fair to say it’s the top initiative for most organizations. A recent ZK Research IT priority survey shows that security remains the top IT priority again for 2015 (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research).

With more employees at more organizations using their own mobile devices in the workplace, security is fast approaching Threat Level Midnight.

In the seventh season of the hit TV series The Office, Michael Scott unveils his movie called “Threat Level Midnight.” In the movie, agent Michael Scarn is brought out of retirement by the President to protect the NHL All-Star Game from being blown up by the evil Goldenface. To accomplish this, Agent Scarn must go through some difficult tasks. such as learning to skate and play hockey as well as recover from a gunshot wound. Scarn, of course, does this because the Threat Level to the All-Star Game is fast approaching midnight.

The topic of digital transformation and the impact it has on traditional businesses has been a core part of my research now for a couple of years. There’s no doubt that natively digital organizations, such as Square and Uber, are upsetting the apple carts in their respective industries. The change is happening fast and businesses that can’t keep up face a gloomy outlook.

Darwin was rumored to have said “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Businesses need to change in order to survive. They need to be agile, flexible, and able to adapt to competitive situations quickly.

However, saying this and transforming the business to be agile are two totally different things. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill, snake oil, or panacea that can help businesses with this. Just a lot of work on the horizon. In a blog post I wrote last month, I pointed out that the tech industry was lacking services firms capable of helping IT and business leaders make the shift to agile, innovating organizations.

I’ve been covering Cisco as an analyst now for the better part of 15 years. Prior to my analyst career I worked for a Cisco reseller, and prior to that I was a customer of the company. All in all, I guess I’ve been watching Cisco and the networking industry for the better part of 25 years.

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