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Cisco, Apple chiefs discuss further partnership opportunities

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins have identified 'a multitude of opportunities' to combine their companies' expertise across security, networking, analytics, and enterprise software.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Cisco and Apple are looking to expand their partnership across several additional projects by continuing to work together on enterprise networking strategies, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has said.

According to Robbins, he and Apple CEO Tim Cook have already identified and discussed multiple collaboration ideas over the course of the first day of Cisco Live Las Vegas.

"Tim and I just spent the last couple hours together after the keynote, and we see that first of all, we built a foundation proving that we can work together in creating innovation for our customers by working together on the same path -- and we actually identified a few more opportunities in the last two hours alone," Robbins told media.

According to Robbins, two of the major points in their partnership see Cisco devices running on iOS and deeper Cisco security integration with Apple devices, ahead of working on extracting more analytics and information from "intuitive" networks.

"As we try to build assurance around Wi-Fi, and, looking at that as an example, being able to get analytics about the Wi-Fi experience from the device itself to feed into that in conjunction with what the network knows gives you a much more holistic view of how you solve that problem," Robbins explained.

"So there's a multitude of opportunities for us, and in fact ... afterwards there were two or three other ideas that popped up."

Earlier on Monday, Cook had made a surprise appearance during Robbins' keynote, saying the two-year-old Cisco-Apple partnership is continuing to grow as the two focus on baking security and control into their enterprise offerings.

"We've got a whole new device management system in iOS 11 as well that make rolling out devices simple, and so I think the things that we're doing together now ... there's more and more and more, and I think together we make up the most secure combination of anybody in the enterprise," Cook said on Monday morning.

"I think that increasingly is not just important, but necessary."

Cisco's SVP and GM of IoT and Applications Rowan Trollope added that on the security front, its Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and OpenDNS now tie into iOS 11, unveiled last month -- for which Cook said would be a public beta "very shortly" -- with the two companies also working towards "deeper collaboration integrations" such as native integration with WebEx into iOS calendars.

Cisco SVP of Networking and Security David Goeckeler also discussed Cisco's new "network intuitive" with Robbins and Trollope, on Monday afternoon telling ZDNet that early field trials with customers are going well, and the feedback will inform the final release of the products.

"This is one of the broadest [early field trials] we've done in a long time, whether it's customers using the Catalyst 9300 to see how that works, and also bringing in all of software-defined access to the DNA-Center," Goeckeler told ZDNet.

"The switches should be orderable now; the DNA-Center will be another couple of weeks. We feel really good about it, as those customers have given an enormous amount of feedback of how this works, we always take that into development process so that when we turn it on for shipment it's the best possible software it can be.

"It's been a really good process, we've had a lot of really good marquee customers as part of the process and we've just gotten incredible feedback."

Cisco has 75 early field trial customers using the technology to ensure it is ready to go, including NASA, Accenture, Wipro, DB, and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

During his keynote, Robbins said the network intuitive will enable the scale, complexity, and security required by the billions of devices to be added to the internet in future, predicting that many as 1 million new connections per hour will be added by 2020.

Cisco's network intuitive comprises three parts: Encrypted traffic analytics; the DNA-Center, which is the command centre and analytics platform of the new network; and a series of programmable IoT-, cloud-, and mobile-ready switches called the Catalyst 9000 series.

The global launch of intuitive network will see the DNA-Center available in early August, encrypted traffic analytics to ship in September, and DNA-Center network analytics available in October, while several switches in the Catalyst 9000 series are available now.

According to Robbins, Cisco had to modernise its internetwork operating system (IOS) in order to develop its DNA-Center.

"We had to rewrite IOS to a modern data model, API-structured operating system," Robbins explained.

"That then allowed us to launch DNA-Center, which is fundamentally the command centre for the network.

"It also is a major analytics platform ... where we are going to stream the analytics, and we now have the ability to provide insights, context, and analytics from the application to the datacentre, to the core enterprise network, and combine it with all the threat-intelligence we have in our security portfolio."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco

Updated at 9.30am PST, June 28: Cisco had to modernise its own IOS.

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