Cisco Looks to Professional Services for Enterprise Innovation

Mitch Wagner

Cisco is beefing up its professional services to lift some of its customers' everyday maintenance burden, to allow enterprise IT to focus more on innovation.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is best known for selling equipment, but the company's services revenue is now more than $12 billion per year, about 25% of Cisco's overall revenue, Joe Pinto, senior vice president of Cisco technical services, tells Enterprise Cloud News.

Professional services fill the skills gap for enterprises, who will face 1.5 million unfilled IT positions by 2020. Cisco is working with channel partners to bridge that skills shortage, Pinto says.

New services introduced Tuesday fall under umbrella categories that Cisco calls Business Critical Services and High-value Services. Cisco says the new services use AI and machine learning (thus ticking those buzzword checkboxes).

Cisco's Joe Pinto volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Cisco's Joe Pinto volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

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The new Business Critical Services go "beyond basic optimization" to deliver analytics, automation, compliance and security services, reducing downtime by 74%, resolving issues 41% faster, and reducing operational costs by 21%, Cisco says.

High-value Services include software support, network support, and solution support for Cisco hardware, software and third-party partner solutions "from first call to resolution," Cisco says.

Simplification is an ongoing theme for Cisco recently, as the company looks to bolster declining revenues. Cisco unveiled its "network intuitive" strategy in June, a plan to automate network management by allowing administrators to state goals and have the network configure itself automatically, sidestepping the need to manage individual components through arcane command line interfaces (CLI). (See Cisco's 'Network Intuitive': A Risky Transition.)

Cisco launched Intersight last month, a subscription-based management and automation cloud for Cisco Unified Computing System data center servers and HyperFlex hyperconverged storage, along with Project Starship, a multi-year program to bring machine learning and AI to IT systems management. (Oh, good! More machine learning and AI!) (See Cisco Intersight Aims to Tame Data Center Management 'Monster'.)

Cisco, along with HPE and Dell EMC, are the leading providers for cloud infrastructure, according to a Synergy Research Group survey. (See Cisco, HPE, Dell EMC Fighting for Cloud Infrastructure Dominance.)

Cisco's revenue has declined seven consecutive quarters in its fourth quarter, ending July 29, as the company moves away from a business model based on hardware and networking gear, to one that offers cloud, security and other services to customers. Quarterly revenue was $12.1 billion, a 4% year-over-year decline. (See Cisco Revenue Decline Continues Into Q4.)

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