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Trans-Tasman partners grasp ecosystem opportunities at Cisco Live

Technology businesses from Australia and New Zealand put best feet forward at Cisco Live in Las Vegas
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins delivered his keynote on the opening day of Cisco Live 2017 in Las Vegas

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins delivered his keynote on the opening day of Cisco Live 2017 in Las Vegas

Jonathan Barouch is buzzing. His company, Sydney-based social media monoitoring software developer Local Measure, has just received a big boost as they promote their product on the Cisco Live convention floor in Las Vegas.

As the huge conference kicked off, Cisco senior vice president and general manager of Internet of Things (IoT) applications, Rowan Trollope, tweeted a link to one of the company's case study vidoes with the note...

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins in turn retweeted Trollope's message with: "Our are such a strategic part of our success with customers!"

Local Measure was one of a dozen companies, including Telstra, exhibiting in Cisco's "Collaboration Village" across sprawling convention and exhibition floor at Mandalay Bay.

"In the past, Cisco might never have partnered with a company like us," Barouch said. "Gorillas dance with gorillas, but over the last 12 months we've seen open APIs, they are building a developer ecosystem. The fact that Chuck tweets about an Australian partner is pretty cool."

Barouch has been paying attention to the stream of annoucements flowing from Cisco this week and building on the company's recent announcement of a new management technology that makes the network programmable and much easier to manage from a central console dubbed DNA Centre.

The "intent-based" system allows users to express policies the software platform executes and maintains the dynamically, easing administration workloads at a time when the number of connected devices is forecast to skyrocket due to internet of things developments.

It also improves security through allowing micro-segmentation that can stop intruder from moving laterally through the network.

Barouch said at the heart of the changes is the fact that while Cisco will build the hardware and the core software that operates networks and supports its collaboration portfolio, partners bring a lot to the table.

"Cisco will do a part of it and partners will do a part of it as well," he said. "It's what differentiates Cisco from a lot of their competitors, that they have that ecosystem to build solutions that are industry specific or very targeted.

Team Local Measure - Jonathan Barouch, Peter Wynn Hughes and Christian Oswald
Team Local Measure - Jonathan Barouch, Peter Wynn Hughes and Christian Oswald

"I think it's cool to see them go further down the stack towards earlier stage technology companies as well."

Local Measure's software, for instance, integrates with Cisco's collaboration platform Spark to provide a tool for marketers to find social media content related to their companies and close the loop on service to customers by integrating that with existing workflows.

"It's been cool for us because it's a really nice entry into Cisco and it resonates with our clients. Many times they are leading with our capabilities and it just happens it runs on Spark or Maraki, but the business solution comes first."

Barouch poiunts out that Trollope's keynote at Cisco Live was all about getting close to the customer - getting to "zero distance".

"That doesn't sound like a traditional hardware company. That sounds like a software company."

It also changes the conversation from one of price to one of capabilities.

"You add some of the partners on top of the core and it gets pretty interesting," he said.

Another benefit for Cisco, Barouch said, is that their relationships are predominantly with CIOs, CTOs and the like. However, Local Measure speaks to heads of marketing and CEOs, so it becomes a digital transformation discussion.

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"They are now reselling Local Measure globally and it give them a business relevant application and access to budgets that are outside the purview of IT," he added.

Local Measure was not the only company from Australia and New Zealand receiving a high profile boost at the conference.

Auckland-based wearable device developer Jupl received more than a name-check during Trollope's keynote, being cited as an example of the kind of zero-distance from the customer technology can support.

The company's logo was projected on one of the huge conference centre screens at the same time.

Jupl develops dedicated wearables based on Samsung's Gear technology to help in aged care. Not only can the devices help monitor wearers in case of a fall, it can alert people to check on the wearer if inactivity is detected.

Jupl CEO Alan Brannigan, who was not at the conference, said it was great to get such exposure.

The company has partnered with Cisco Jasper IoT platform to develop its mobile Personal Emergency Response System (mPERS). In fact, Jupl was one of Cisco Spark’s first customers on the Control Centre platform.

Jupl uses the Cisco Jasper Automation Engine component of the Control Centre platform to automatically monitor and manage their network cost, detect possible security breaches and to deploy devices on mobile networks with no manual intervention.

The new version of Control Centre, version 7.0 was announced at Cisco Live and Brannigan is especially interested in the support now offered for low power end-points.

Control Centre 7.0 also offers tiered features and premium services such as traffic segmentation and security. 

Like Barouch, Brannigan sensed changes in Cisco's approach, saying they are obiously looking at new vertical markets.

Last October Jupl appointed Gui Feijo as general manager for Australia while Cisco Jasper and Jupl are also targeting other groups that could benefit from the technology.

Further along the exhibition space in the preferred security partner village, another Auckland-based company was enjoying the Cisco effect.

Network probe developer Endace had been part of Cisco's security partner program for the past two years, senior director of sales for North America John Attala said, with the relationship really taking off over the past year.

Endace has integrated with Cisco's FirePower security management appliances and Stealthwatch network visibility and analytics software to help during and after an incident investigation.

Team Endace - John Attala, Blaine Deutsch and Michael Guerra
Team Endace - John Attala, Blaine Deutsch and Michael Guerra

Endace's probes allow FirePower alerts to be tied back to the specific packets travelling on the network.

"Lots of big name companies are coming by wondering how they can better secure their networks," Attala said.

"We like to think we have a unique approach, particularly as a partner of Cisco. We are one of the only vendors who has opened their platform completely up."

Attala said Cisco had invested in its partner programme and was very responsive.

"They want to know how they can spread the word about Endace out to their customers. when you partner with someone the size of Cisco, that's exactly what you want to hear."

Rob O'Neill attended Cisco Live as a guest of Cisco.