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India leading Cisco's shift from hardware to software: Country president Sameer Garde

India leading Cisco's shift from hardware to software: Country president Sameer Garde
Sameer Garde

US-based technology products and services company Cisco Systems Inc. is moving from being a hardware company to a software and services provider, with its India division leading the change, a top executive said.

"India is leading the software strategy change globally with 40% of business coming through software services compared to the global average of 30%," Cisco India and South Asia president Sameer Garde told TechCircle.

The company was slowly moving to a subscriptions-based business model, he said. "While perpetual licence contributed to 45% under the software monetisation category, subscription licence as a sub-category accounted for the rest 55%." 

Garde also said the company was looking to offer more managed services such as WiFi-as-a-service and was looking to invest in customer success practice to accelerate software adoption.

He added that, globally, the company was sharpening its focus on networking and that it has started to reinvent it with services such as intent-based networking, which uses technologies like machine learning and automation to manage networks.

"The network is fuelling India's digital transformation as the country looks to becomee a $6 trillion economy by 2027," he said.

Garde said Cisco has more than 125 customers in India who have adopted the company's latest Catalyst 9K platform, used to control routers and network switches, in the past 12 months. 

"Our first intent-based networking customer was Infosys. Tata Consultancy Services is the largest intent-based networking (DNA and SDA) deployment we carried out in India," he said, referring to Digital Network Architecture and Software-Defined Access automation tools. DNA sales grew seven times in 2017-18, he added.

According to the company, DNA is an open and software-defined approach to networking that looks to innovate, reduce costs and lower risk. Last year, the company had announced a range of products and services to drive its intent-based networking solutions that included SDA.

Cisco's customer base in India includes the National Stock Exchange, information technology companies Wipro Ltd, Tech Mahindra Ltd and Cognizant, commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland and advertising company Publicis Groupe.

Garde also talked about the company's five-year strategy and said it would focus on small and medium-sized businesses, networking, software and services for the next year in industry verticals such as banking, insurance, financial services and IT-enabled services.

For the next three years, he said the company will look to deploy Webex as a platform, WiFi-as-a-service and network-as-a-service in the manufacturing, education and retail sectors. The company would also look to capitalise on managed security services. Finally, over the next five years, business analytics would be the proposition from Cisco to its customers, he said.

Speaking about the company's focus areas, the India president said that data security was a top priority as threat to enterprises was growing exponentially with a rise of 24% in cyberattacks against the BFSI industry alone. For instance, India has 800 million bank accounts linked to mobile phones and records 1.1 billion digital transactions per month, he said.

Cisco has an advanced suite offering called AMP, or advanced malware protection, that offers real-time sandboxing--or blocking--by continuously analysing file activity across extended networks of enterprises.

"We have managed to block 19.7 billion threats daily with 600 billion email smaples checked and 16 billion web requests denied. We have also received 3.4 billion AMP queries," Garde said. 

The India president said that Cisco India houses 1,000 people in research and development out of the total global strength of 5,000 engineers and has more than 250 security researchers. He added that HDFC Bank, IIT Roorkee, Karnataka Bank and Infosys were a few companies that had adopted Cisco's security products.

Garde also said that as Indian enterprises were adopting new multi-cloud strategies for digital transformation, Cisco has been preparing to offer similar services that could help companies scale fast.

Garde said Cisco India leads the Hyperplex market share globally and has acquired more than 200 customers including LIC Housing Finance Ltd in two years with the help of its ecosystem partners.

Cisco Hyperplex is a cloud service that combines software-defined storage and data services integrating computing, networking and storage resources into one solution. The company claims the integration of three services increases efficiency for enterprises.

The India president also spoke about the company's Webex video and business meeting platform and said that it has seen 92% growth in 2017-18 with 40% growth in video endpoint devices. 

*The author was at the Cisco India summit on the company's invitation.

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