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Cisco aims to conquer complexity in hybrid world of work

Network tech and services giant Cisco unveils solutions designed to simplify complex environments as the world embraces flexible ways of working, giving global view of SaaS application health and outages map

There are few things that businesses should bank on happening these days, one of which is a pivot to a hybrid work environment. To address the new levels of complexity this move will bring, Cisco has introduced a range of solutions to help manage the complexity of a hybrid workforce and give enhanced visibility of environments powering hybrid work, including collaboration applications.

The networking giant said that as organisations embrace more flexible ways of working – with employees in the office, on the road and at home – they face increasing challenges in ensuring all employees have secure and reliable access to the applications they need to be productive.

With more people accessing applications outside the office, and many of those applications sitting in different clouds, the networks connecting all of these things now reach beyond the enterprise perimeter. Cisco said its latest offerings are designed to enable customers to deal with this complexity and support their hybrid workforce.

In addition, with the home having become a de facto micro-branch, the company said there was an increased need for a new approach to security. Through hybrid work innovations, Cisco said it would help customers understand where, when, how and why issues affecting users are occurring and continue to provide zero-trust solutions to make it easier to ensure secure access to any application, over any network, from anywhere.

“[We have an] opportunity to address challenges and concerns of a hybrid workforce end-to-end,” said Todd Nightingale, executive vice-president and general manager for Cisco enterprise networking and cloud. “Visibility into the applications and networks that sit beyond IT’s control has become a critical success factor for IT teams as they support a hybrid workforce across a variety of new digital experiences.”

As part of the launch, the Cisco ThousandEyes division announced the addition of Application Outages to its Internet Insights platform, giving IT operations teams instant insight into software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications on a global scale.

Explaining the rationale for the launch, the company said IT teams could get a real-time and historic view into the availability of the SaaS applications their employees rely on without any deployment requirements. The feature is said to be able to correlate user-specific issues to broader application issues to proactively alert their workforce when an app is unavailable, while also escalating the issue with the SaaS provider – often before the SaaS provider even acknowledges the issue publicly.

Based on ongoing measurements across global vantage points, the addition of Application Outages to Internet Insights Network Outages is said to empower customers with global insight into all the networks and services that affect digital experience. To give users insights into disruptions affecting the services they rely on, the Cisco ThousandEyes Internet Outage Map is said to put the power of real-world data in the hands of every user and employee.

In addition to the public internet, Cisco said visibility across collaboration applications and cloud environments was key to delivering great digital experiences for users. It noted that collaboration applications have become a lifeline for remote workers, so ensuring they are always available is a top business priority.

Cisco said that between May 2020 and August 2021, collaboration apps became the leading monitored application type by IT teams, indicating that the delivery of collaboration experience is deemed critical for hybrid working. In addition, it said managing users, branches, clouds and the internet required a simpler, more intuitive approach to software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN).

To address these challenges, Cisco announced enhancements for greater access and visibility across more clouds to deliver superior experiences. It also claimed to have raised the bar on its collaboration products, making them directly focused on a next-generation hybrid workforce, evolving its collaboration suite to combine Webex meeting functionality with real-time, photorealistic, holographic experience.

Teams can also now use ThousandEyes Webex Agents for bidirectional visibility between user locations and Webex services, as well as Meraki Insight, which automates root cause analysis and specific remediation steps across the local network, in the WAN, or in a SaaS provider’s cloud.

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