“AI is fundamentally changing how we work and live.” – Garsen Naidu, Cisco

CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to Garsen Naidu, Director, Architecture specialists at Cisco Middle East and Africa, to learn more about their partnership with NVIDIA, how they are leveraging their expertise and knowledge to help enterprises overcome obstacles associated with Gen AI – and their cybersecurity concept of ‘Identity Intelligence’. 

Garsen Naidu, Director, Architecture specialists at Cisco Middle East and Africa.

Can you outline to our readers both the significance of Cisco’s partnership with global AI leaders NVIDIA and what that collaboration entails? 

At Cisco Live in Amsterdam, Cisco and NVIDIA has announced joining forces to help enterprises quickly and easily deploy and manage secure AI infrastructure.

The power of this partnership of the two tech titans of GPUs and Ethernet networking is designed to offer enterprises simplified cloud-based and on-prem AI solutions, including infrastructure management, secure AI infrastructure, and observable end-to-end AI solutions.

AI is fundamentally changing how we work and live. It is transformative technology that will require enterprises to rethink and re-architect their infrastructures.

This partnership will arm enterprises with the technology and the expertise they need to build, deploy, manage, and secure AI solutions at scale.

Cisco and NVIDIA purpose-built Ethernet networking-based solutions will be sold through Cisco’s vast global channel, offering professional services and support through key partners who are committed to helping businesses deploy their GPU clusters via Ethernet infrastructure.

We know that we are currently in the midst of a Generative AI revolution, however, it’s fair to say that despite the seismic opportunities presented by Gen AI, there remains concerns when it comes to compliance. Cisco have launched Motific in an effort to help enterprises navigate the obstacles they will inevitably face with adoption, but can you tell our readers more about Motific and how it works? 

At Cisco, we appreciate that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to power an inclusive future for all. We also recognize that by applying this technology, we have a responsibility to mitigate potential harm.

That is why we have developed a Responsible AI Framework based on six principles of Transparency, Fairness, Accountability, Privacy, Security and Reliability; and we are continually working to translate these guiding principles into controls that can be implemented on things like model creation and selection of data through different techniques.

For example, current and clean data are critical to operating effectively and can be achieved via techniques such as Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG)

Since the expansion and breadth of access to GenAI, 97% of companies have reported that the urgency to deploy AI-powered technology has increased. However, many organizations face challenges in ensuring the AI being utilized includes trustworthy, use-case specific data that complies with organizational policies.

One of the biggest hurdles facing organizations is the ability to tailor GenAI applications and solutions on knowledge bases and data sources that are custom to their specific use cases.

For that, we have recently announced the launch of Motific to enable organizations to navigate the complex world of GenAI deployment.

Motific, is Cisco’s first SaaS product that allows for trustworthy generative AI (GenAI) deployments in organizations. Born from Outshift, Cisco’s incubation business, Motific provides a central view across the entire GenAI journey, empowering central IT and security teams to rapidly deliver trustworthy GenAI capabilities across their organizations with control over sensitive data, security, responsible AI, and cost.

It is time-consuming for companies to provision and manage GenAI assistants and APIs, integrate models across providers, and hire the talent to manage the process; Motific is a model and vendor agnostic solution that will help customers accelerate their AI deployments across the entire GenAI journey from assessment, through experimentation, to production.

The cybersecurity landscape is a constantly evolving minefield, and the repercussions of a cyber-attack are devastating. Cisco has pioneered ‘Identity Intelligence’ as part of their effort to fightback against the world’s most persistent threats. Again, can you tell us more about Cisco’s Identity Intelligence concept? 

We have recently unveiled new innovations within the Cisco Security Cloud as part of our mission to simplify security.

First-of-its kind Cisco Identity Intelligence and continued innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities are the latest milestones towards our vision of a unified, AI-driven, cross-domain security platform.

Today there is blind trust between authentication and access solutions, and threat actors have successfully compromised some of the largest organizations in the world in 2023 by targeting these weaknesses.

In fact, more than 26% of all Cisco Talos Incident Response engagements in 2023 involved adversaries using compromised credentials on valid accounts.

A user is often mapped to many digital identities and accounts – drastically increasing entry points for attackers and the possibility of lateral movement “across” identities.

Too often legacy permissions have not been removed, and security teams are missing crucial context about historical identity behavior, actions across systems and current risk levels that are needed to make trusted access decisions.

Cisco Identity Intelligence runs on top of customers’ existing identity stores and provides unified visibility, as well as AI-driven analytics. Customers can discover their whole identity population, clean up vulnerable accounts, eliminate unused and risky privileges, detect behavior anomalies and block high-risk access attempts – without ripping and replacing their current solutions.

Can you provide our readers with more information in relation to the new security and AI capabilities that have been added by Cisco as part of their efforts to embolden and drive the company’s networking cloud vision? 

Cisco Networking Cloud is our vision—our commitment—to simplify IT, everywhere, at every scale. Until now, there has never been a consistent way to automate operations, analyze and diagnose issues, or assure the user experience across networking domains. Cisco Networking Cloud will change that.

Assuring the user experience across increasingly complex and ever evoving technology landscape is complex, AI based solutions can help simplify the complexity and deliver end to end security across mutliple domains with things like event correlation, anomaly detections and root cause analysis.

As a market leader in both networking and security, and with visibility into over 1 billion endpoints, Cisco is in a unique position to build the industry’s premier AI-driven, secure and simple networking management platform, Cisco Networking Cloud.

Whether it’s autonomous operations or simply delivering a trouble-free experience to an end user, endpoint and network data is key to AI-driven intelligence. The best data produces the best result, and Cisco has the best data.

To deliver an exceptional experience organisations now require a secure networking solution that delivers a shared view across their entire network, and a scalable way to enforce security policies everywhere, without compromising their always-on, optimized user experience; and bringing networking and security teams closer together is critical help achieve this.

The recently announced Cisco Networking Cloud and security integrations innovations will offer our customer new capabilities to achieve this.

The new capabilities address customers’ need to simplify their operations, assure digital experience, bring security and networking teams closer together, and accelerate their AI adoption with scalable infrastructure.

With Cisco Secure Access we introduced deeper integrations between Cisco Networking and Security Cloud platforms.

These innovations with Cisco Secure Access, Cisco’s Secure Services Edge (SSE) solution, deliver a unified approach to networking and security management, and automated monitoring of the digital experience, providing insights from network, device and application performance metrics. These integrations are available today with Catalyst SD-WAN and ThousandEyes.

Few transformational technologies have generated the kind of interest as AI and, most recently, Generative AI (GenAI). Organizations around the world are finding exciting new ways to collaborate, manage applications, enhance their digital security and reimagine customer experiences.

Cisco is committed to ongoing AI innovation to help organisations achieve their business outcomes and we will continue to deliver AI-fuelled solutions across networking, security, collaboration, and observability.

We have the infrastructure solutions to power AI, the software portfolio to optimize and secure it, the visibility and tools to ensure the best user experience and the expertise to help our customers get the outcomes they need.

In your opinion, what is it that ultimately differentiates Cisco from its market rivals? 

The IT landscape has drastically changed as organizations around the world have digitized their businesses, and it will continue to evolve at an even more rapid pace with the acceleration and adoption of AI.

While these new technologies create vast opportunities, they also add even greater complexity — unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Today, IT leaders face the challenge of managing a growing set of often disparate technologies and successfully delivering them to a wide audience of end users who demand simple experiences.

As our customers add billions of new connections to their enterprises, and as more applications move to a multi-cloud environment, the network becomes even more critical.

To address these challenges, we’re focusing on creating a simpler, sustainable, and more inclusive technology. We do this through our ability, rare among technology providers, to deliver comprehensive solutions for virtually every IT and business objective, from networking to security, collaboration, monitoring, application development and more.

We want our customers to take full advantage of technology to deliver on their business outcomes and our focus is to help our customers deliver a unified user and customer experience by extracting the most across multiple technology domains in a simple and secure way.

Beyond Cisco’s deep portfolio is our strategy to deliver it all as platforms that can usually be consumed as a service in the cloud or on-premises.

What where the key takeaways and learnings of Cisco LIVE in Amsterdam? 

Cisco Live 2024 in Amsterdam was a pivotal event, highlighting the future of technology. It presented a forward-looking vision of technology’s role in addressing contemporary challenges.

For C-suite leaders, it underscored the importance of AI, network simplification, and security in driving digital transformation.

The insights and innovations revealed at this year’s event are instrumental in shaping strategies for a more connected, secure, and sustainable future.

It was mainly defined by the integration of our several product lines, bringing AI everywhere and enabling a more unified approach to IT security.

We are in a  mission to unify products across Cisco’s networking, security, cloud computing, and collaboration segments, illustrating our vision for a future; where seamless integration reigns supreme.

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