Cisco's Managed Services Strategy for 2009 (And Beyond)

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 Disclosure

Before 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.
I'm only scratching the surface here. We'll continue following Cisco's strategy, and you can also monitor Cisco's own service provider blog.

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