Cisco Systems is starting to pull back the curtain on a broader, more aggressive managed services strategy -- with an emphasis on empowered branch offices. The company made several MSP-oriented announcements yesterday and hosted a virtual trade show to brief customers. But that's just the start.
Here are some highlights from Cisco's announcement, plus where I expect Cisco to go next.
Cisco's managed service strategy begins with the company's Integrated Services Routers (ISRs), which are like Trojan Horses in the managed services market -- and I mean that in a positive way. Big service providers like Verizon Business leverage ISR routers to activate and administer a range of managed services. So far, Verizon has managed services contracts with more than 4,000 customers.
On the product front, Cisco yesterday announced:
- The Cisco 880 Series ISR models with 3G Mobility and Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST): Designed for secure high-speed wireless connectivity to small businesses, enterprise small branch offices and teleworker sites.
- Cisco 880 SRST: Designed for mission-critical remote branch unified communications survivability.
Full DisclosureBefore I talk about where Cisco is going next, I need to make disclosure: We've done some custom editorial (i.e., paid) work for Cisco Systems. As part of that project we interviewed MSPs and customers to get a feel for Cisco's ongoing MSP strategy.
None of the information I'm about to share is confidential. Nor is this blog entry sponsored by Cisco. But I do think it's important for readers to know that MSPmentor has done work for Cisco -- so that you can draw more informed conclusions (pro or con) about our coverage.
What's Next?Now, onto the road ahead. I would expect Cisco to aggressively emphasize the following technologies and strategies in the months ahead:
- Wide Area Application Services (WAAS): Think of this as application acceleration. The goal is for branch office users to access centralized applications that perform as if they were running locally.
- Managed Video Surveillance: Cisco will attack that market opportunity from several directions. The company already offers video surveillance equipment. And Cisco plans to introduce more video surveillance solutions as part of a $100 million small business initiative. I would expect to hear far more from Cisco about managed video surveillance in 2009.
- Managed TelePresence Services: AT&T and other big service providers are already introducing managed TelePresence services. But as TelePresence (i.e., next generation video conferencing) pushes into the home, I wonder if cable broadband providers will partner up with Cisco in this area as well.
- Application Extension Platform (AXP): Keep a close eye on Cisco's AXP, which allows software developers to write network-aware applications. It's a safe bet more and more of those applications will target the managed services market.
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