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This expanded integration with RingCentral, along with others, gives Avaya customers full control over how they modernize communications.

This week, Avaya and the International Avaya Users Group (IAUG) are holding the annual Engage user event in Denver, CO. The conference brings Avaya stakeholders such as customers, resellers, partners, and anyone who wants to learn about the latest and greatest in Avaya innovation. Historically, Avaya has used the event to launch “big news.” So far, Engage 2024 is no different as Avaya and RingCentral announced an expansion to their strategic relationship.

Mix and Match Avaya Flavors

The new offering integrates RingCentral’s UC suite with Avaya Aura, extending RingCentral across Avaya’s customer base. Avaya currently offers Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral, Avaya’s exclusive UCaaS solution, as an IP Office replacement, primarily directed at SMB customers. Avaya Aura is a rock-solid calling platform widely deployed across large enterprises. Now, customers can migrate to RingCentral’s collaboration capabilities but retain their Avaya Aura for telephony. The new offering lets customers mix and match Avaya flavors. While most of the IP Office install base is SMBs, a large percentage of the enterprise base has used it in branch offices to complement Aura in the headquarters. The enhanced relationship would enable a large enterprise to use ACO in branch offices, keep Aura for more prominent locations, and bring in RingCentral. This would provide seamless collaboration across the company with Avaya Aura and ACO deployed in a hybrid mode.

Welcoming AI

Customers can also access RingSense AI, RingCentral’s generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI) platform. RingCentral designed RingSense to increase worker productivity and facilitate collaboration. Avaya customers can access core features such as live transcription, closed captioning, video summaries, and video highlights. AI in collaboration can have significant benefits for customers, and that is being reflected in customer commentary. “In the digital age, embracing technology isn’t just about convenience; it’s about unlocking new possibilities and empowering businesses to thrive. With RingSense, Seneca Foods can connect seamlessly, access support, and elevate their communication game,” said Tim Eddinger, Enterprise Networks Manager, Seneca Foods, an ACO customer.

Teaming Up for Voice

As part of the expanded relationship, the direct routing and RingCentral for Microsoft Team calling will be available for ACO customers. For all the innovation Microsoft has delivered to Teams, its big weakness is calling. RingCentral was quick to jump on the Teams calling train and is one of the leading telephony providers to the Microsoft platform. ACO customers can now embrace Teams and be assured of the five-nines reliable calling. One last piece to the partnership puzzle is that the Avaya Experience Platform (AXP) public cloud contact center is integrated with ACO. Historically, if a customer deployed both, users would need to run both independently making them the integration point. Post integration, workers will experience a single environment that spans back office to front office. At Avaya Engage, I discussed partnership updates with RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis. He mentioned that the two companies have worked diligently to create feature parity between ACO and RingEX. Typically, there has been about a one-release feature lag between the two, which can create confusion with customers and channel partners. The Teams integration is a big part of creating a “like-for-like” experience.

My Take

The expansion of the expanded RingCentral-Avaya partnership was important for several reasons. Most notably, Avaya’s value proposition and brand promise of “Choose Your Journey” and “Innovation Without Disruption” are rooted in users having control over their transformation path. The integrations with RingCentral coupled with the recent integrations with Zoom and Microsoft Teams gives Avaya customers full control over how they modernize communications. This sentiment is being shared by the channel. I discussed the expanded partnership with Amrit Chaudhuri, Chief Growth Officer at C1, and he told me, “C1 has a long history of working and partnering with Avaya and RingCentral, and we are excited about the new hybrid solution announced at Avaya Engage. We have a large customer base that can benefit from the best of Avaya and RingCentral’s product innovations to enable simplified and seamless management of communications and collaboration technologies. These enhancements are essential for creating better employee and customer experiences and thriving in today’s dynamic business environment.” By partnering with Teams, Zoom, and RingCentral – three of the most common UCaaS platforms – Avaya can do what it does best: deliver reliable voice and contact center capabilities and ensure customers can bring in the collaboration partner of their choice while being assured of interoperability. It may seem counterintuitive to integrate deeply with a competitor, but better vendor interoperability is something customers have been requesting for decades, and the industry has failed to deliver it. Also, over the past year or so, there has been industry chatter regarding cracks in the RingCentral-Avaya relationship. Rumors are rumors, but where there is smoke, there is fire, so there were likely issues that came up and needed tweaking. The good news for Avaya customers is that both parties have worked together to resolve any differences they may have had and now further extended the partnership in multiple, meaningful ways. Typically, when vendors do what’s best for the customer, things work out in the end, and that’s what both companies did. When Alan Masarek took the helm of Avaya he had several priorities, both internal and external. One of the items he was most emphatic about was listening to customers and doing right by them. It’s no secret that Teams, Zoom, and RingCentral are in Avaya accounts. One just needs to talk to customers to find this out. Masarek could have stuck his head in the sand and refused to admit Avaya customers were using other products, fighting the headwind. Instead, the partnerships can turn those headwinds into tailwinds.

Study reveals third-party IT expense management solutions propel FinOps maturity, yielding cost efficiency.

One of the challenges of the post-pandemic IT climate is that business priorities have shifted from growing and hiring with a nearly unlimited budget to re-focusing on cost savings – including IT expense management (ITEM). Companies spent too much, and now business executives and boards are clamping down, wanting CIOs to throttle back spending. A new study from Tangoe delves into IT expense management practices, comparing fully in-house programs, external third-party solutions, and hybrid models. The study, conducted in partnership with Vanson Bourne, is based on responses from 500 senior IT and finance professionals in the U.S. and UK, who work for organizations with annual global revenues ranging from $500 million to $50 billion. All the organizations have an IT expense management solution in place. Below are some of the study’s key findings.

Moving Forward Requires Investment

The challenge is that businesses need to move forward, and that requires continued investment. As IT spending continues to climb, driven by the escalating costs of artificial intelligence, cloud, and mobile tools, organizations are feeling even more pressure on their budgets. This makes the ability to track and manage spending, govern expenses, and adjust IT budgets effectively a must. The Tangoe study uncovered that third-party information technology expense management (ITEM) solutions foster more mature financial operations (FinOps) programs and offer faster business insights and savings than alternative approaches. Furthermore, such solutions often incorporate automated processes that help reduce the risk and costs associated with IT outages. According to the data, this approach has proven to be five times more cost-effective than its alternatives, offering a superior method for managing IT expenses.

Cost Efficiency Disparity

One of the standout findings is the cost disparity between different expense management approaches. Organizations using a fully external ITEM solution reported spending approximately $442,000 on average, which is remarkably lower than the $2.35 million incurred by those with a hybrid approach. By outsourcing, organizations not only save money but also free up internal resources. Unlike in-house programs, which typically rely on vendor-provided tools, third-party providers offer specialized analytics platforms to identify cost optimization opportunities and managed services that help companies act on them quickly. This allows organizations to focus on critical investments and decision-making, rather than mundane tasks like invoice processing, expenditure analysis, and service adjustments.

Advanced FinOps Programs

Organizations that employ third-party solutions for managing IT expenses are more likely to have a mature FinOps practice, with 94 percent of organizations having a dedicated team for optimizing cloud spending. Those using an external provider are more successful in deploying their FinOps practices, with 61 percent achieving full deployment compared to 53 percent of those using other methods. Having a FinOps program in place has also been shown to reduce spending on cloud infrastructure and software by 20 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

Improved Insights and Savings

Nearly all (99 percent) senior IT and finance decision-makers experienced significant benefits from outsourcing. Third-party ITEM solutions tackle common challenges related to data analysis, IT service inventory management, and manual processes. Organizations using these solutions reported a 90 percent improvement in productivity and process efficiency, with 88 percent experiencing faster access to business insights and cost savings. On average, organizations saved more than $10.5 million annually by outsourcing to third-party providers. Additionally, 88% of those with fully outsourced solutions achieved business insights and savings faster.

Automation is Necessary

Approximately 43 percent of IT expense management tasks are still performed manually. The consequences of manual dependency include service outages due to late payments, experienced by 85 percent of organizations. This can lead to substantial revenue losses and potentially halt operations completely. According to the findings, automation decreased the frequency of regular outages from 41 percent in environments with mostly manual processes to 32 percent in those with automated processes—a 22 percent reduction.

Bottom Line: Third-Party ITEM Supports Cost Savings

As businesses expand and grow, IT expense management is a critical tool to boost profitability. Third-party ITEM solutions help organizations manage the complexities of modern IT expense management by supporting advanced FinOps practices, decreasing manual workloads, and providing considerable cost savings.
As organizations navigate increasingly complex technological environments, they face a dichotomy: Some are harnessing advanced cybersecurity tools and practices, while others are struggling under the weight of new challenges. Splunk Inc.’s new 2024 State of Security Report: The Race to Harness AI, released Tuesday, highlights significant differences in how cybersecurity is managed. It also delves into the impact of geopolitical tensions and the rise of sophisticated cyber threats, all forcing security teams to rethink their approaches. Splunk surveyed 1,650 security executives and professionals from December 2023 to January 2024 in nine countries and 16 industries. The data revealed a split perception among cybersecurity professionals regarding the ease of managing cybersecurity requirements: Some 41% find it easier due to robust security protocols, and 46% find it more challenging. The challenges are linked to rising technological complexity, sophisticated cyberattacks, escalating threats from geopolitical tensions, and integration of technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and multicloud systems. These factors increase data volumes, making it difficult for organizations to establish basic cybersecurity controls to secure new assets and protect against simple human errors. Additionally, compliance requirements have become stricter. Security professionals are personally accountable for their organizations’ compliance violations, with 28% acknowledging that regulatory compliance complicates their roles. About 27% of security teams struggle to manage emergencies, indicating a lack of long-term strategic planning and investment. Additionally, the sheer volume of security alerts remains challenging for 26% of professionals. In 2024, various cybersecurity threats emerged, from business email compromises that exploit human deception to brute-force distributed denial-of-service attacks — all with the common goal of causing disruption. Furthermore, 86% of organizations believe current geopolitical tensions made their organizations more frequent targets. This is especially true for technology companies, which are central to information technology infrastructure and thus commonly exploited. Generative AI adoption is rapidly becoming a focal point in cybersecurity strategies. About 44% prioritize AI initiatives, even over cloud security. Generative AI is widespread across industries, with 93% of organizations using it daily. This rapid adoption, driven by innovation or possibly the fear of missing out, has led to concerns about its dual use by cyber criminals. According to the findings, 45% of professionals worry generative AI mainly benefits criminals by enhancing existing threats like phishing. Internally, 77% anticipate more data leaks from generative AI usage. The use of generative AI within security teams is very high, with 91% of security teams claiming they are using it, although 65% say they do not fully understand the implications. I found this data point interesting, as it shows that security teams are looking for a better way of doing things, even if that means having to understand the ramifications later. Yet with 93% of organizations drawing on past AI experiences, they feel optimistic about managing the risks. Leading organizations are leveraging generative AI more effectively and innovatively in their cybersecurity efforts compared to their less mature counterparts. At these organizations, 48% of leaders prioritize generative AI as a top initiative, compared to only 30% in developing organizations. Additionally, 75% of leaders cite widespread use of generative AI within their security teams, in contrast to just 23% in developing organizations. Cybersecurity leaders are taking a more systematic and less experimental approach to integrating generative AI. Most (82%) have established specific security policies for generative AI, while only 46% of developing organizations have done so. This strategic approach extends to incident response, where leading organizations significantly outperform others. They report a mean time to detect disruptive incidents of 21 days, compared to 34 days. There’s also a notable difference in recovery times, with leaders taking just over 44 hours to recover business-critical workloads, compared to the average 5.7 days. Splunk recommends organizations implement the following best practices to protect their data and maintain a strong security posture in a digitally interconnected world:
  • Embrace generative AI. Since most businesses and security teams already use generative AI, create policies that foster innovation and address risks like data leakage.
  • Promote collaboration and tool consolidation. Encourage cooperation across departments, especially IT, to improve digital resilience. Simplify operations by consolidating tools to focus on major threats.
  • Align with legal and compliance teams. As regulatory requirements become more central, work closely with legal and compliance teams to integrate compliance into everyday security operations.
  • Advocate for resources. Leaders should demonstrate the business value of robust cybersecurity measures to gain executive support.
  • Encourage hiring and training. Address skill shortages by utilizing AI and employing creative training methods like allowing non-security staff to participate in security operations.
  • Focus on fundamentals. Commit to basic cybersecurity practices like regular updates of IT asset inventories, which can mitigate risks and improve long-term compliance.
  • Stay informed on global dynamics. Keep abreast of global political and regulatory changes, and have an understanding of how they impact cybersecurity.
Extreme Networks Inc. recently held its annual user conference, Connect, in Fort Worth, Texas, where everything is big. In keeping with that tradition, Extreme had its own big news from the show. Day 1 news involved Extreme being approved for standard power for the 6-gigahertz spectrum for Wi-Fi. This new band was added to Wi-Fi 6E and 7, providing clean spectrum and speeds north of 1 gigabits per second. Extreme’s access points are equipped with the capability for outdoor usage, but customers such as the San Francisco Giants have turned the feature off and are waiting for approval. Other day 1 news included the rollout of Universal Zero Trust Network Access or UZTNA, which brings together cloud network access control or NAC, and ZTNA to enable the company to deliver zero trust as an overlay to its network and competitive ones. The third piece of news, delivered on day 2, was about AI and the unveiling of Extreme Labs, an incubator for faster innovation and integration with partners. One example is Extreme’s ability to pull telemetry information from Intel network interface cards to improve its artificial intelligence for networking. The news drew the headlines, but my conversations with Extreme executives, customers and partners highlighted several key themes. Here are my top five:

AI for networking: close but not ready for prime time

Like all industries, AI has been the talk of the town for networking for the past two years. The launch of ChatGPT made people think about what’s possible if one brought generative AI to networking. If a user was having problems with a Zoom call, a network engineer could ask the system why, and, like magic, the answer would be revealed with a possible solution. Though the vision is excellent, the reality is customers are just starting to dip their toes into AI for networking. During a customer panel at Extreme Connect, theCUBE Research analyst Bob Laliberte asked the three customers if they were using AI with network operation. They stated they are looking at it but have yet to roll it out. One could argue that a sample size of three isn’t all that big, but this is consistent with feedback I’ve had with IT pros – not just in networking but also in security, collaboration, contact centers and every other area. Make no mistake, AI is coming to information technology organizations, and when it starts, I believe the ramp will be quick, but companies need to experiment with the systems and learn from them, which builds trust and then utilization. The reality is that IT pros are drowning in complexity and need AI to simplify their jobs, but there is an experience chasm that needs to be crossed.

The messy product work is now behind Extreme

Extreme’s portfolio is built on a collection of products from several acquisitions. The company had its own products but has added infrastructure from Enterasys, Avaya Networking, Brocade, Motorola, Aerohive, Ipanema and others. It did this over just a few years, and the engineering team has been busy rationalizing hardware and software. It appears this work is now behind the company, and it now has an enterprise networking that can go toe-to-toe with any of its competitors. One of the interesting differentiators for Extreme is its “Universal Hardware,” where customers can deploy a switch or access point and then manage it using the cloud. If, in the future, the customer wants to bring the data into a private cloud and switch the management model, they can do so without having to change hardware. Integration, rationalization and product issues have held the company back, as it has had to manage the roadmap and upgrade path with customers and partners. Most of the hardware is done, and the company can now look forward versus trying to manage the historical install base.

The network fabric is Extreme’s best-kept secret – but it needs it not to be

When Extreme acquired the networking assets from Avaya, it inherited Avaya’s shortest path bridging-based network fabric, now known as Extreme Connect Fabric. SPB was developed about a decade ago to simplify networks and solve some of the limitations of the Spanning Tree Protocol, such as slow convergence, blocked links, and box-by-box configurations. The network is configured at the edge, and updates are made dynamically across the fabric. This results in a less complex network with improved performance that is significantly easier to run. One of the challenges for Extreme with Fabric Connect is that it is a much different way of running a network. Some customers I talked to were skeptical that the solution would bring the benefits that Extreme articulated. However, once customers move to the fabric architecture, they stay with it. I’ve talked to many customers who use Extreme’s fabric, and they all rave about the product. Extreme needs to highlight these customers and quantify their benefits to obtain more proof of concepts, which will lead to more deals. Extreme Fabric Connect has been described as a “best-kept secret,” but the goal should be for the value to be well understood by the industry.

Extreme is the king of complex Wi-Fi

Of all the different network domains, Wi-Fi has been the most difficult for vendors to get right. It’s not a technology issue but rather a deployment one. We have all experienced bad Wi-Fi where you’re connected but it’s not working well. This happens at stadiums, conference centers, airports, hotels and other places where traffic is unpredictable. I’ve talked with CIOs from facilities with bad Wi-Fi, and they explain that the proper level of planning wasn’t done to deliver consistent, great performance. Wi-Fi in carpeted offices can be somewhat cookie-cutter, but that’s not the case with stadiums, schools and conference centers. Over the years, Extreme has developed a reputation for doing complex Wi-Fi better than anyone. It’s used in many of the old, iconic stadiums, such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Old Trafford Stadium and Lambeau Field. These facilities were not designed with Wi-Fi in mind and require a tremendous amount of pre-work, and Extreme has mastered the art of complex. If it can do those, the business should feel confident it will work in more traditional environments.

Security is poised as the growth area

Extreme has a strong network portfolio and is a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader. However, many macro issues are causing companies to delay network purchases, so even if Extreme takes share, its ability to grow is limited. Today the company announced its quarterly results, posting revenue of $211 million, slightly ahead of expectations but down 36.5% year-over-year. As the network industry recovers, so too should Extreme, but accelerated growth requires an adjacent market, and security is it. As mentioned, it announced universal UZTNA, which complements its SASE offering. Right now, Extreme is selling security through its network channel. The goal should be to continue building network-centric security products, post some lighthouse wins and use those customers to validate its strength in security. On the company’s earnings call today, Chief Executive Ed Meyercord (pictured) called for a return to growth by fiscal year 2025. “At Connect, sessions on zero trust drew standing-room-only crowds,” he said. “When added to our unique Fabric, this allows us to present a highly differential security value proposition.”

Summary

While the network industry is crowded, Extreme Networks is the only one that’s an enterprise pure play. The company has a strong network portfolio, and many major customers chose it because of its focus. Kroger was on stage and talked at length about Extreme’s willingness to partner with him to help the retailer meet its business goals. Looking ahead, Extreme needs to continue to lead in Wi-Fi and develop its AI and security solutions.It must also exercise a degree of patience while the macro issues that are plaguing networking today subside. Extreme Connect was a good event that featured product innovation, strong customers, channel partners and a glimpse of the future. Now that the product integration issues are out of the way, it’s time to step on the execution gas.
Arista Networks Inc. today announced an enhancement to Arista MSS — Multi-Domain Segmentation Service — to create a zero-trust enterprise network. “We tried to overcome one of the biggest challenges of micro-segmentation technologies that are always deployed in islands today,”Alessandro Barbieri, director of product management at the company, told me in a briefing. “There is no truly end-to-end technology with a single orchestration model, a single operating system, across campus branch and data center. And that’s why we call it multi-domain.” The problem Barbieri outlined is a real one as micro-segmentation has evolved along the lines of network domains. Some great micro-segmentation tools exist for data centers, campus networks, Wi-Fi and the wide-area network, but each must be managed independently. This means segmenting each domain is done independently, which makes it significantly more challenging to create consistent policies, particularly in highly dynamic environments.

Enabling microperimeters

One of the more interesting aspects of Arista’s MSS is that it eliminates the need for endpoint software agents or proprietary network protocols while enabling effective “microperimeters” that restrict lateral movement in campus and data center networks, which reduces the impact of security breaches like ransomware. The use of software agents isn’t bad, per se, but adds another level of complexity. Each system must be configured, agents can vary by operating system, and not all endpoints, particularly internet of things devices can host an agent. This leaves many blind spots between the domains. Arista MSS enables the following capabilities:
  • Stateless wire-speed enforcement in the network: Arista’s identity-aware microperimeter enforcement enables lateral segmentation.
  • Redirection to stateful firewalls: By integrating with Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler firewalls and cloud proxies (among others), MSS sends the right traffic to security controls.
  • CloudVision for microperimeter management: Real-time visibility into packets, flows, and endpoint identity provides effective east-west lateral segmentation.
“We want to do our part and use the network for what it’s good at, which is delivering more and more secondary services,” Barbieri said. “And the latest security service we have added to the portfolio is this micro-segmentation technology.” The integration with firewalls is the right approach for Arista. Too often, micro-segmentation vendors are dismissive of firewalls. While traditional firewalls do not handle east-west traffic well, they are good and protecting north-south traffic flows. East-west is network traffic that occurs within an organization’s internal network, while north-south traffic involves outside networks.

The traditional perimeter has collapsed

Barbieri says that Arista subscribes to the notion that the traditional enterprise perimeter has fundamentally collapsed. “Not only because users are now distributed everywhere,” he said. “But most of the devices connected to the network are also unmanaged. So unknown devices represent the future expansion of your business.” He told me that, with applications distributed — in your private data center, in a collocated data center or in the public cloud — controlling the network with traditional security has proven ineffective. Barbieri explained why the network is the right approach to micro-segmentation. “The network connects all the endpoints and is best positioned to deliver better end-to-end micro-segmentation services.” But you’ll still need those old tools. “You’ll still need perimeter security, you’ll still need VPN, you’ll still need endpoint security technologies,” he said. “But the game here is how to use the network to play a more central role.” Barbieri says Arista wants to integrate its segmentation with threat detection and access control technologies to close the loop. “So you can admit someone into the network, and you can restrict their ability to move laterally,” he said. “But at the same time, you continuously monitor to adapt your policies and track their behavior.”

Some final thoughts

The network connects all points, and, in many ways, the network is the perimeter. Wherever the network goes, it needs to be protected. So Arista’s approach is sound. Its technology is good, and it has integrations with best-of-breed security vendors. Over the past several years, Arista has built out its security portfolio. Although I’m not ready to declare the company a vendor that can lead with security, it has a growing set of products and services that can protect its customers by leveraging network data.

Advanced unified compliance coverage is now available to unified communication platforms through Theta Lake.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was the big theme at the recent Enterprise Connect 2024, which took place in Orlando, Florida. Companies are proactively incorporating AI features into their daily business practices at a rapid pace. However, the rise in AI’s utility creates considerable concern about data security and transparency – an issue that Theta Lake aims to tackle.

Theta Lake Tackles AI Compliance and Oversight

Key concerns surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) involve the accuracy of its outputs and problems with misleading information, known as “hallucinations.” There is also apprehension about the types of queries users submit, such as requests for sensitive information, which pose ethical and security risks. Organizations are growing interested in monitoring AI prompts to ensure compliance with ethical guidelines and security standards. To address this, Theta Lake builds solutions for organizations using communications and collaboration platforms, focusing on compliance to enhance user regulatory oversight.

Enhancing Compliance: Insights from Theta Lake’s Chief Product Officer

I spoke with Dan Nadir, Theta Lake’s Chief Product Officer, at Enterprise Connect 2024. Nadir discussed the benefits and challenges of advanced features in collaborative meeting products today. He also shared the company’s news from the show. Highlights of the ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.

  • Compliance requirements often lead to disabling functionalities like chat or video, which causes user dissatisfaction and potential violations. Theta Lake’s technology is an enabler by offering monitoring capabilities that help organizations maintain compliance and functionality. Through its integration with Zoom Compliance Manager (ZCM), for instance, users can access compliance tools directly within Zoom.
  • Theta Lake supports a wide range of platforms with over 100 integrations and has established partnerships with companies like Zoom, Microsoft, Cisco, RingCentral, Salesforce, and Slack. For example, Theta Lake’s integration with Microsoft leverages the features in Purview, which includes numerous customization options. One key feature is the ability to use labels. Theta Lake automatically archives and retains labeled documents in Purview according to specified settings.
  • Theta Lake has broadened its integration capabilities beyond traditional chat applications to include platforms like Dialpad, Miro, and Mural. Theta Lake maintains close partnerships with these companies, allowing them to influence application programming interface (API) development and adapt to new beta APIs as they become available. Meanwhile, the user experience remains consistent across the platforms.
  • At Enterprise Connect 2024, Theta Lake announced enhancements to its unified compliance communication services by adding more data sources. This includes new voice technology support for Webex, and an expanded partnership with RingCentral, specifically its new Ring CX intelligent contact center solution.
  • Additionally, Theta Lake now supports Mural, Miro, and Zoom whiteboards. The whiteboard integrations allow users to replay their sessions, simulating the experience of watching someone write and make changes in real time. This includes tracking and displaying actions like writing and erasing.
  • Theta Lake’s integrations improve communication management by linking different types of interactions—voicemails, calls, and emails—into a cohesive timeline. The communications are aligned in sequential order, so users get a comprehensive view. They can see messages across different platforms, get access to interconnected data, and adhere to regulatory guidelines.
  • Theta Lake unifies different communication forms in one place, simplifying data management and searchability. The company has broadened its functionality to include detailed tracking of communications across multiple platforms. This expansion encompasses complete language support, translating content into various languages for emails, text messages, and transcripts.
  • Moreover, Theta Lake has developed a unified identity tool to address the issue of scattered user identities across various communication platforms. The tool consolidates important user information—such as phone numbers and employee numbers—into a single identity profile, and facilitates thorough searches across all associated data.

Bottom Line: What’s Next for Theta Lake?

The company is working on proactive compliance and real-time functionality. This capability will automatically alert users about potential risks or compliance issues, removing the need for manual checks. Theta Lake will also deepen its AI use by generating summaries of data sourced from its partner platforms. The goal is to not only monitor but also actively guide users in managing their AI settings.

Now it’s time for Masarek and the team to execute consistently and turn their strategy roadmap into sales success

This past week, Avaya held its analyst summit in San Diego, CA. This was the first analyst event in several years. This event focused solely on providing an update to industry analysts, the first of its kind in several years. While much of the content was NDA, many broader themes are worth mentioning. Below are my top five thoughts from the 2024 Avaya Analyst Summit.
  1. Large enterprise communications moving wholly to the cloud is not a fait accompli. The tech industry loves to swing pendulums from one side to the other, and their messaging shows it. In the late 90s, the rhetoric was that everything would move to an IP-based system. Although the deployment movement swung that way, the industry still hasn’t fully migrated from the old TDM systems. Similarly, it’s commonplace to hear that all unified communications and contact centers will be cloud-based. Much of the small and mid-market has moved that way, but large enterprises have yet to pull the trigger to move to SaaS-based services. In fact, going from my conversations with IT leaders from large companies, there are many challenges to using public clouds, including data sovereignty, control of security, economic considerations, customization, and migration issues. This is why the hyperscalers all have private cloud offerings: enterprise-class customers want the cloud model but prefer a private cloud.
  1. The Avaya management team is the best it’s been – perhaps ever. Since taking over as CEO, Alan Masarek has completely revamped the management team, and it’s in the best position I can recall in my years of covering the company. Since Masarek took the helm, he has added the following key hires:
    • Soren Abildgaard – Chief Technology Officer. Background includes Contentful, Adobe, Zendesk, Autodesk, and Microsoft.
    • Omar Javaid – Chief Product Officer. Background includes Qualcomm, Vonage/Nexmo, Tivo, HP, Qualcomm and Motorola.
    • ML Maco – Chief Revenue and Customer Experience Officer. Background includes Genesys, CognitiveScale, HPE, Oracle and Cisco.
    • Al Morales – Chief Transformation Officer. Background includes Tenneco, TD Synnex, AmerisourceBergen and AT&T.
    • Josh Mueller – Chief Marketing Officer and GM of Hardware. Background includes National Instruments, Vonage, Dun and Bradstreet and Dell.
    • Amy O’Keefe – Chief Financial Officer. Background includes Weight Watchers, Savant Systems, Black and Decker, and Ernst and Young.
Each of these leaders brings a strong pedigree and a good mix of large companies that have gone through their transformation journeys. The only remaining executives from the Jim Chirico era are David Austin (Corporate Development, Strategy, and Alliances) and Nidal Abou-Ltaif (Global Head of Sales). Abou-Ltaif, in particular, is well known for his “customer first” mindset and has been highly successful regardless of whoever is CEO.
  1. Avaya is focused on the right customer base. Historically, Avaya has tried to be “all things to all companies.” This made sense nearly 25 years ago when the company split from Lucent. Avaya had a massive install base and was the leader in contact centers and phone systems for companies of all sizes. A lot has changed since then, with the company being much smaller than it was in the past. This requires a more focused approach to everything from sales and marketing to partner management to product development. Avaya management talked at length about focusing on the top end of its customer base, which are massive, multi-national organizations and governments across the globe with complex requirements. That’s not to say Avaya won’t service customers' needs outside this demographic, but Avaya management made it clear – the large, global companies are its strength and will point most of its resources there.
  1. “Innovation without disruption” is more than a slogan. In the social media era, companies always come up with their latest hashtag-gable quote. Late last year, Avaya started using “innovation without disruption” as its latest go-to-market. At that time, the sentiment was more vision than anything, but the company has put together a solid plan to back up the vision since then. In the contact center, customers can keep the tried-and-true Avaya on-prem system and then leverage the capabilities of AXP (as public or private cloud) for the digital channels.
For unified communications, Avaya’s large customers can use Aura for calling and Zoom or Microsoft Teams for collaboration, as Avaya now integrates with both. Smaller customers can stick with both or migrate to Avaya Cloud Office, based on RingCentral. Whether through a partnership or using its technology, Avaya aims to minimize the disruption typically seen when new technology is introduced and when companies do what’s best for the customer, which generally leads to success.
  1. Avaya has more work to do. The leadership is in place, the product roadmap has been defined, and Avaya focuses on large enterprises. However, success from here is certainly not a given, and the company fully acknowledges they have work to do.
Looking at the product, AXP Public Cloud is a serviceable offering today, but there is still a sizable feature gap between it and many of its competitors. AI dominates the communications industry, and Avaya must continue investing in it. Also, historically Avaya has provided roadmaps but then missed deadlines. During his part of the keynote, Abildgaard talked about the importance of “Say: Do,” meaning when the engineering team says something, they need to do it, but that only becomes a reality after a few quarters of success. Looking at the go-to-market, Avaya has a massive customer base, and it needs to convert that into public stories to better reflect the customers' voices. As it evolves, Avaya must also help its channel partners transform to align with it, and that takes both money and time. In summary, the Avaya Analyst Summit gave me a positive view of a company that has certainly had more downs than ups in recent history. Everything coming out of the event was positive, but now it’s time for Masarek and the team to execute consistently to turn the roadmap and promises into trust so when stakeholders hear a promise, they know it will be fulfilled. A good start but more to come.
Amazon Web Services Inc. Tuesday announced a slew of offerings on Amazon Bedrock, including a custom artificial intelligence model import capability, model evaluation, safeguards to remove personal and sensitive information, and additional model choices, with a goal to help customers speed up the rollout of generative AI. Before the news, I received a prebriefing on the announcement from Vasi Philomin (pictured), vice president of generative AI at AWS, to get some more background on what AWS announced. He provided a deeper dive into the details beyond SiliconANGLE’s news story.

Custom model import

“Tens of thousands of customers are already using Bedrock as the foundation for their generative AI strategies because we give them the broadest selection of leading foundation models,” he told me. “But with this announcement, we’re empowering our customers to bring their own proprietary models to Bedrock.” Amazon Bedrock custom model import enables organizations to use their tailored models onto the platform, streamlining operations and speeding up app development. AWS says customers are fine-tuning existing models for their specific needs, especially in healthcare and finance, using services like Amazon SageMaker. That integration enables the use of Bedrock’s AI tools with custom models, eliminating the need for independent development. Through a straightforward process, organizations can import their models into Bedrock as fully managed APIs and take advantage of the platform’s scalability and protective features. That flexibility enables users to combine Bedrock’s models with their own with a single API. Currently supporting Flan-T5, Llama and Mistral architectures, this feature is available in preview, with expansion plans.

Amazon Bedrock’s Model Evaluation

“It’s great that we have all the models — and now you can bring your own model as well — but then you want to be able to evaluate which one is doing best for your use cases,” Philomin said. “And then you can choose one or more of the models to power your application or user experience. That’s where the Model Evaluation capability is useful, and we are making it generally available.” This feature enables customers to assess and compare models swiftly, aiding in selecting the most suitable one for their needs. With a vast array of top-tier models, Bedrock caters to various pricing, performance and capability preferences. In the past, organizations faced extensive analysis to match models with their specific requirements, which can delay the deployment of AI applications. Model Evaluation streamlines this process, reducing evaluation time from weeks to hours. Customers can quickly start by choosing evaluation criteria and uploading datasets or leveraging built-in resources. For subjective assessments, Bedrock facilitates human input to evaluate model responses based on tailored metrics. Once set up, Bedrock conducts evaluations and provides a comprehensive report, aiding customers in swiftly identifying the optimal models for their use cases.

Guardrails for Amazon Bedrock

“The Guardrails for Bedrock is the only capability offered by any cloud provider that enables customers to build and customize privacy protections for their applications all in a single offering,” Philomin said. “Usually, it’s not a combination of safety and privacy protections—it’s one or the other. We’re bringing the two together. AWS provides customers with a way to enforce safeguards and filter out personal data, profanity, specific terms and harmful content. Organizations must deploy it securely and responsibly to ensure the widespread adoption of gen AI across industries. Although many models come with basic content controls, customers require further customization to ensure responses align with company standards and ethical AI principles. Guardrails for Amazon Bedrock promises to enhance safety measures beyond native model capabilities, blocking up to 85% of harmful content. It offers prebuilt and customizable safeguards within a single solution that are compatible with all large language models in Bedrock. Setting up guardrails involves providing natural-language descriptions of restricted topics and configuring thresholds for filtering hate speech, insults and other undesirable content. This feature empowers customers to innovate confidently, maintaining a consistent user experience and upholding safety and privacy standards across generative AI applications.

Model choices

AWS is now offering Amazon Titan models exclusively on Bedrock, along with the latest models from Cohere and Meta. These models, pretrained by AWS on diverse datasets, prioritize responsible AI use. Titan Text Embeddings V2, optimized for RAG tasks, offers improved accuracy and reduced compute and storage costs, making it ideal for various applications like chatbots and recommendations. In addition, Amazon Titan Image Generator, which is generally available, enables industries such as advertising and ecommerce to create or enhance images via natural language prompts, with added invisible watermarks for transparency and security.

AWS enables customers to step on the AI gas

AWS, like its Amazon mothership, doesn’t do things on a small scale, so it is taking that approach with gen AI. Everything is necessarily big, and AWS is one of the few providers that can attain the scale required for gen AI. It’s also among the few providers that can deliver on customer expectations for model choice, evaluation and guardrails. We are still in the early stages of the gen AI revolution, but AWS has already established itself as the go-to for customers looking for choice and an end-to-end solution.

The new HPE Aruba 730 series Wi-Fi 7 access points tout high performance, enhanced security, location tracking capabilities, and more.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) a subsidiary of Aruba Networks rolled out new Wi-Fi 7 access points (APs). The new 730 series APs are designed to significantly improve wireless network performance and security, especially for enterprises using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Wi-Fi 7 is based on the IEEE 802.11be standard for those unfamiliar with the latest Wi-Fi specification and offers the following improvements over previous standards.
  • Higher data rates. Wi-Fi 7 has a maximum data rate of over 30 Gbps, significantly higher than the 9.6 Gbps of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. This is accomplished through more efficient spectrum utilization, higher order modulation (4096-QAM), and additional improvements in channel bonding and MIMO capabilities.
  • Improved latency. Wi-Fi 7 reduces the latency on wireless networks, making it suitable for real-time gaming, AR/VR, and video apps. The new standard introduces features such as multi-link operations (MLO), which allows devices to transmit data across multiple bands (2.4, 5, and 6 GHz) simultaneously and dynamically allocate traffic to the fastest link.
  • Better spectrum utilization. Wi-Fi 7 supports 320 MHz channels in the 6 GHz band, compared to 160 MHz with 6/6E. This allows more data to be transmitted, improving throughput and network efficiency.
The 730 series is managed through Aruba Central, a cloud-based platform that simplifies network and IoT management. The solution eliminates the need for separate IoT networks by supporting various communication standards directly within the APs, including protocols like Zigbee and Bluetooth. Additionally, the APs come with dual USB ports to accommodate industrial and manufacturing environments. These ports allow specialized devices to connect directly to the APs, supporting backhaul and overlay networks. One of the standout features of the 730 series is its energy efficiency. The APs can operate at full capacity on just 24 watts of power, under the typical power allocation per port. This is crucial in geographical areas where energy costs are high. Moreover, new software features available through Aruba Central put the APs in a deep sleep mode during off hours, reducing power consumption significantly to only two watts.

Addressing Wi-Fi network security issues

Currently, there is a diverse mix of devices using Wi-Fi 6, 5, and the emerging Wi-Fi 7, with substantial increases in Wi-Fi 7 devices anticipated by 2028. Enterprises are future-proofing their network infrastructure to accommodate this growth and ensure compatibility across Wi-Fi standards. However, security remains a major concern. The rise of generative AI poses new challenges, as hackers can use it to exploit network vulnerabilities. On top of that, the convergence of IoT and operational technology (OT) is leading to an influx of devices on Wi-Fi networks, posing security risks. HPE Aruba introduced several security enhancements in the 730 series to address these challenges. The APs have several layers of security to protect against external and internal threats. Features like policy-based access control, Layer 7 application firewalls, and media access control security (MACsec) help secure networks by monitoring and controlling access and encrypting data transmission. Additionally, the APs provide enhanced IoT visibility and segmentation, assigning roles to users and IoT devices for secure, segmented network access. “On the switching side, we’re seeing increased demand for things like MACsec (a security protocol that provides encryption at the link level). But you don’t have to have MACsec enabled to use this AP. It’s merely a security add-on,” said Madani Adjali, vice president of product management at HPE Aruba, in a pre-briefing. In terms of performance, the new APs are built to handle a high volume of wireless traffic, providing up to 30 percent more capacity than other products on the market. They utilize HPE’s ultra tri-band hardware technology, which optimizes using 5 and 6 GHz bands to reduce interference. This supports a heavier load of devices and more data-intensive applications. Additionally, the APs feature enhanced data processing capabilities. They have twice as much synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) and Flash memory as previous models to run application-specific containers directly on the APs. While most existing APs operate at one gigabit (Gb), the 730 series APs have dual 5 Gb Ethernet interfaces. The introduction of 5 Gb interfaces caters to evolving technology needs, helping enterprises prepare for future network demands and higher data throughput. However, organizations updating to newer Wi-Fi standards might install these advanced APs at new sites while upgrading their wired infrastructure. As is often the case, “wireless advancements precede updates to wired networks,” said Adjali. “Even in the wired space, few devices ever get near 50 percent of that one gig pipe. As more devices are leveraging 6 GHz, that possibility is certainly there, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow. So, this is more about future-proofing for when the time comes to enhance the wired edge,” Adjali added.

Advanced features abound

Lastly, the 730 series includes advanced location tracking capabilities that provide accuracy up to one meter. This high level of precision is essential for apps that require exact location information, such as asset tracking in industrial settings or creating immersive user experiences in public venues, Adjali explained. The APs also support the IEEE 802.11az standard to enable self-location networks, and they have additional features like a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver for asset tracking and a barometric sensor for floor-level mapping. The 730 series APs will be globally available in July 2024. HPE Aruba will showcase the new capabilities at HPE Discover + Atmosphere 2024, which will take place in Las Vegas June 18-20. During the conference, a Wi-Fi 7 network consisting of approximately 220 APs will be put to the test in a dynamic public setting with over 10,000 attendees. This will trial the APs in real-world conditions and demonstrate what’s possible in modern networking.
Veeam Inc. today announced that it has acquired incident response firm Coveware Inc. for an undisclosed price. The new offering that results from the acquisition — Coveware by Veeam — will operate independently initially, but the company will integrate elements over time. Dave Russell, vice president of strategy at Veeam, gave me a preview of the announcement. “We will have a standalone or Coveware team, which we will add additional personnel to as we scale up that business,” Russell told me. “Then our product development team will begin to take portions of the reconnaissance capabilities and deploy them side-by-side with Veeam.” Though it’s only now announcing the acquisition, the deal was consummated some time ago. “We closed on this the last week in March,” he told me. “Coveware has a considerable number of large customers, 41% of which are F500 and 59% are G2000.”

Looking for vulnerabilities

Russell shared that one of the products that attracted Veeam to Coveware is Recon, which can look at vulnerabilities in an existing environment. “From a services perspective, they can do tabletop exercises with an organization and help them understand where vulnerabilities could be at a conceptual level,” he said. “They can run Recon in the production customer environment to show the vulnerabilities.” This Recon capability doesn’t send any customer data, he said, but it does send metadata for functions such as port usage and other indicators of compromise — nothing like server names or even sensitive metadata. “With that, a report can be generated using their large language model, to suggest known vulnerability strains in the wild and their attack vectors in areas where your deployment model, your data center, could be open to vulnerability,” he said. “So that’s very proactive.”

Using LLMs as an early warning system

Coveware might fall under the “incident response” category, but it’s really an early warning or simply stopping the threat before it becomes a problem. “Coveware does proactive threat hunting,” he said. “They are engaging with their clients in advance to offer best practices to keep them out of a cyber situation. On the one hand, they market themselves as an incident response team, like a fire department. But they’re more like fire prevention. And the part that excites us at Veeam is the ability to do the proactive threat hunting to understand the nature of the threats operating in the wild today and how to best defeat them.” But in the future Russell sees many more possibilities from Coveware’s large language model. “Because their LLM will get better with the more information it receives, and with over 1 million Veeam backup and replication servers out in the wild, even if we got 10% uptake that’s 100,000 new backup servers that are now able to add to that LLM — becoming even more intelligent but also proactively identifying vulnerabilities that a customer may be running with and unaware of,” he said.

Some final thoughts

Veeam has become a significant player in ransomware recovery, and this acquisition should add to its broad capabilities. Blending the artificial intelligence world of LLMs to create a vast storehouse of knowledge to prevent attacks before they happen is very possible. Vendors will need to turn to this approach because attackers will be using AI in all its forms to relentlessly test every company’s defenses.

Think of Hypershield as an AI-enabled security fabric where every network port becomes a high-performance enforcement point.

As AI demands more from IT infrastructure, Cisco just released Hypershield, which it heralds as a new way to secure data centers and clouds. This new solution aims to protect assets wherever they are—applications and devices, as well as public and private data centers. The company says Hypershield was created with AI in mind from the ground up to help secure beyond a level humans can reach alone. In a pre-briefing, Tom Gillis, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco security products, shared the background on Hypershield. “For decades, the way the industry has worked is that every time there was a new problem in security, there’d be a little cluster of new companies formed to solve that problem,” he said. And while the individual solutions are excellent, this puts the burden on the customer of constantly ingesting a new tool and often onboarding a new vendor.” Gillis said that Cisco wanted to create a more integrated solution defined in software—independent of infrastructure—that could span private and public clouds. The company would then tie it together with its networking capability.

Better security outcomes

“This is going to create a better security outcome for our customer, which is better, faster, and cheaper—an irresistible combination in any industry, but in security in particular,” he added. Cisco Hypershield is a security architecture built to meet the needs of the AI-scale data center. Cisco says it built Hypershield on three key pillars:
  • AI-native: The company says it designed Hypershield to be autonomous and predictive. As such, it self-manages once it earns trust, which is the key to its operation at scale.
  • Cloud-native: With open-source eBPF underpinning, Hypershield can connect and protect cloud-native workloads. Bolstered by its acquisition of Isovalent, an eBPF provider for enterprises, earlier this month, this should be a unique advantage for Cisco.
  • Hyper-distributed: Cisco’s network heritage gives it a singular advantage in how it views security—it uses the network fabric, enabling it to shift security where workloads need protection.
For customers, Cisco says Hypershield solves a few challenges on the threat landscape, including distributed exploit protection to prevent attackers from weaponizing new vulnerabilities before patches are available, autonomous segmentation to stop attackers from lateral movement, and self-qualifying upgrades, which automates testing and deploying of upgrades when they’re ready. The important thing to understand about Hypershield is that it’s a new architecture built on the technology Cisco developed originally for hyperscalers. Legacy security is akin to a fence that protects the perimeter. Once the fence is breached, threat actors have unfettered access to everything inside it. Hypershield enables security enforcement to be placed everywhere – from application services to containers and virtual machines. Think of Hypershield as an AI-enabled security fabric where every network port becomes a high-performance enforcement point. This fabric approach blocks application exploits in near real-time and blocks threats from moving laterally, ultimately limiting the blast radius of a breach. While there are many use cases for Hypershield, Cisco is targeting the following three specific pain points:
  • Distributed exploit protection. Hypershield protects against the rising number of vulnerabilities through continuous testing and deploying compensating controls into the enforcement points of the distributed fabric. Critical vulnerability exploits (CVEs) are a way of life and are growing faster than most customers can keep up, and Hypershield can help minimize their impact.
  • Autonomous segmentation. Hypershield's continuous monitoring enables it to observe and re-evaluate segmentation policies and dynamically adjust them. Customers have been interested in segmentation for years, but maintaining the policies is extremely difficult and impossible in dynamic environments.
  • Self-qualifying upgrades. The solution automates the time-consuming and manually-heavy process of testing and deploying upgrades once they are ready, leveraging Hypershield’s dual data plane. Effectively, it accomplishes this by creating a "digital twin" of the environment.
Hypershield will be generally available in August of this year. It will use per-workload and per-port pricing for network-based enforcement and will be a software subscription with a la carte hardware.

Some final thoughts on Hypershield

Cisco Hypershield is in the right place at the right time to help with the many complex security challenges of modern, AI-scale data centers. Cisco’s vision of a self-managing fabric that seamlessly integrates from the network to the endpoint will help redefine what’s possible for security at scale. For example, this level of visibility and control across a hyper-distributed environment prevents lateral movement of attackers, enabled through a unique approach to segmentation that’s autonomous and highly effective. This may seem fantastical, but the time is right, especially when you combine recent AI advances with the maturity of cloud-native technologies like eBPF.

Cisco and Splunk unite: A new era for AI and data? See how this acquisition changes the networking sector.

Cisco made big news in late 2023 when it announced it was acquiring Splunk for $28B, making it, by far, the largest acquisition in the company’s history. This move created massive speculation from Cisco watchers as to why the company was making such a bold move. The most obvious thought was that it could help the security business, which Cisco is currently revamping with its security cloud. There was also the possibility that it could add another dimension to its network business. Other advantages include full stack observability and using the data in Splunk’s services group to drive better business outcomes. Until recently, Cisco and Splunk were mum on the topic as they couldn’t say much legally while the deal was closing. In March, Cisco completed the acquisition of Splunk, which gave the company the freedom to lay out its vision. Cisco recently held a roundtable with Splunk to discuss how the acquisition will be used to transform its business.

Cisco and Splunk: A Shared Strategic Vision

In the roundtable, Cisco EVP and Chief Customer Experience Officer Liz Centoni moderated a discussion with Tom Casey, SVP and general manager of Splunk products and technology, and Jeetu Patel, EVP and general manager of security and collaboration at Cisco. The panel discussed how the combined companies can offer unparalleled visibility across the entire digital landscape, leveraging their combined strengths in networking, security, observability, and artificial intelligence. The session started with a discussion on Cisco’s motivation to acquire Splunk. The purchase was driven by a strategic vision that is based on three foundational pillars:

Data as a Differentiator

Both companies recognize that while AI tools and models are widely available, the true competitive advantage lies in the quality, trustworthiness, and actionable insights derived from data. Cisco has access to extensive datasets through its networking, security, and operations. Meanwhile, Splunk has its own high-quality data and analytics capabilities. Cisco’s Centoni underscored this importance in the artificial intelligence era when she stated, “When you think about AI, everyone has access to the same AI tools and models. It’s the data that’s the differentiator.” The combination of Cisco and Splunk gives Cisco more data than any other infrastructure provider.

Unified Security and Observability

Cisco and Splunk plan to offer more cohesive observability solutions, providing customers with a complete view of their digital infrastructure. This integration will reduce the time spent on troubleshooting problems by analyzing connected data to resolve them quickly. Historically, observability and security were separate disciplines, but over the past few years, those industries have been on a collision course. In my discussions with Patel, he has continually talked about how the two areas go hand in hand and Cisco now has the data to support the vision.

Enhanced Digital Experiences

Cisco and Splunk will help customers deliver superior digital experiences by aligning their integrated offerings. Specifically, the integration with Cisco’s ThousandEyes will enrich the digital experience for existing Splunk customers by providing better insights into network routes and user behavior.

An Elite Partnership

Cisco is building on Splunk’s reputation as a top provider of security solutions for companies worldwide. Cisco’s advanced intelligence tools, like Talos, will further enhance Splunk’s offerings, making it an even more attractive option for businesses looking to boost their security setup. For example, integrating Cisco’s cloud, breach, and user protection technologies with Splunk’s security information and event management (SIEM), security orchestration, automation, response (SOAR), and attack analytics solutions will be a potent combination. “We take a unique approach to providing unified security and observability solutions because both are necessary for response to almost any kind of issue—whether it’s a bad piece of code that gets deployed, a ransomware attack, or even a beneficial spike in traffic,” Casey said. “With Cisco, we can provide unprecedented visibility across the whole digital footprint.”

Enhanced Security with AI

The merging of Cisco and Splunk is not just about combining technologies; it brings AI to the forefront of cybersecurity. Cisco is deeply invested in artificial intelligence, leveraging it across all internal functions beyond product development, and integrating AI capabilities, models, and tools into its portfolio. One example is the creation of Silicon One, a new type of chip for powering AI workloads across both hyperscalers and enterprise networks. With Splunk, Cisco adds security capabilities using data. Patel explained, “To be a world-class security company, you must be a world-class AI company. To do that, you must be a world-class data company, and Splunk will improve us on that front.” AI in security can play a key role in addressing the talent gap in security. Patel mentioned that millions of security jobs go unfilled annually in the U.S. Approximately 90 percent of companies have multiple open positions, underscoring the complexity and demand within the field.

Generative AI and Cybersecurity

Generative AI shows promise in addressing three critical areas in security: improving efficacy, enhancing the user experience for both security and IT and reducing the total cost of ownership of security systems. For example, integrating generative AI tools like the Cisco AI Assistant into various products would simplify user engagement with technology. Users can express their security intents in natural language, which the AI Assistant interprets and then helps set up policies, manage network configurations, and troubleshoot issues. “Every single product that we have will be under the Cisco AI Assistant banner. It will be both embedded in the products as well as something that you can use to go to the system page and ask questions. Splunk will have their dataset also plugged into that over time, which is a very logical extension,” Patel said. While AI can be incredibly helpful, especially in times of crisis, human judgment is still essential. Therefore, a balanced approach is needed, where AI helps but doesn’t replace human decision-making. Both companies understand the importance of ethical AI where enhancements are made responsibly while maintaining and building customer trust.

Bottom Line: Cisco’s Splunk Acquisition Integrates AI

For AI to be truly effective, it needs to be securely integrated into systems and supported by substantial volumes of data for training. Cisco is currently working on incorporating AI into its cybersecurity framework, with significant developments expected in the coming months. The Splunk acquisition marks an exciting phase for the networking giant. Although integrations are still early, they show great innovation potential. Cisco and Splunk are working toward providing security and observability solutions that adapt to the changing requirements of modern organizations and their users.

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