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Key takeaways of Cisco Live! Europe 2017 from Nowcomm co-founder James Baly.

This year’s Cisco Live! event in Berlin definitely lived up to its expectations and delivered against the buzz created by customers and partners alike within the ‘Cisco-sphere’, This was the 26th Live! Europe event and attracted circa 14,000 technology industry enthusiasts from across the globe.


The venue was brimming with hundreds of seminars, educational sessions and workshops, breakout areas and product demonstrations from both Cisco and the wider Cisco Eco-system. A number of key emerging trends were covered and reiterated during the event and in the extended discussions that took place both within the venue and across the socialising after day gatherings. Here are my key takeaways from Cisco Live! 2017 in Berlin.

  1. Collaboration

Jonathan Rosenberg, Cisco Vice-President Chief Technology Officer delivered a seminar on innovation in collaboration that addressed customer pain points in a world where technology is changing at an incredible pace. A few of the pain points Jonathan highlighted included:


Difficulty in getting new employees up to speed on projects and campaigns.


Arranging ad-hoc meetings can be incredibly time-consuming in a mobile world, where employees can work from anywhere and spend increasing amounts of the business day outside of the walls of the organisation.


Ensuring that key information discussed during meetings with remote and conferenced members of staff is not lost and can be easily shared and referred to by all colleagues and co-workers, as minute-taking can be cumbersome for both the individual and the wider organisation.


In response to these pain points, Rosenberg highlighted how Cisco’s latest collaboration platform, a Software as a Service called Cisco Spark, offered a low cost and seamless solution to these and other challenges. Cisco also used the event to demonstrate their latest gadget Cisco Spark Board, a giant interactive screen that connects directly to Cisco Spark offering voice and video calls and presentation functionality that includes interactive whiteboarding features to remove many of the current communication pitfalls we all experience in our mobile environments. Here at Nowcomm, we adopted Cisco Spark at an early stage, and actively use the service across our business to collaborate with remote workers effectively. It also enables us to work securely with users who are not on our corporate network including our customers, suppliers and partners. Spark is particularly powerful when used in the Sales and Marketing function, and other areas where effective project management and co-ordination is essential. Another key feature for Nowcomm is the highly robust encryption, which ensures all data shared in meetings remains encrypted at all times so that our sensitive business data is secure. Additional features that have allowed us to become better organised following a meeting or call is that we’re are able to go back to the Spark ‘meeting room’ and review the previously posted content including documents, spreadsheets, chat messages etc. therefore reducing the back and forth with colleagues trying to remember important actions that came out of the meeting. Also, once a meeting has taken place and finished, our team is able to post more content into the room, which then alerts all the members of the room which save having to send out more email messages with multiple attachments to multiple people.

  1. Security

It wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading that a key area of content and ongoing discussions held among the presenters and delegates at Cisco Live! was security, given the constant rise of malicious attacks such as advanced ransomware, phishing and spoofing attacks. David Ulevitch, Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Security, and previously the Founder and CEO of OpenDNS (which was acquired by Cisco in 2015), delivered a great talk covering “Innovation within Security”. Given the latest news that More than half of UK businesses are being hit by ransomware attacks based on figures published in 2016, and that half of those impacted actually pay the ransom – I’m sure most readers would agree that they can’t afford to be a part of that figure going forward.

Interestingly, many of the breaches that occurred last year came as a result of compromised IoT devices that weren’t connected securely to the internet. Take the example of the hacked printers, today it’s printers, tomorrow it could be the Smart heating system or Smart lighting system that gets targeted. This can be incredibly problematic for your operations team, especially if your organisation is a railway station, prison or hospital. These poorly secured devices are used to provide the “hop” onto the wider corporate network for an attack to your core data, such as your financial systems, customer sensitive data or intellectual property. There was a wide consensus across those I spoke to that a defence in depth, or multi-layered approach to data security was key in reducing the risk and impact of attacks. Some of the ways that organisations can make and achieve quick improvements are to look into your existing security infrastructure and assess its current level of effectiveness. Typically, this has been based on a perimeter layer of security combined with the server and device security, but this model is increasingly becoming less effective.

How about protecting your organisation before the attacks reach your data systems, regardless of if your data is on premise or in the cloud? Can you see what threats are coming at you? If not – why not? If you can see what’s coming, you can work out what security protocols you need to initiate. Similarly, automated threat detection and prevention during and after cyber-attacks may give you the time and insight you need to protect your systems and avoid serious damage occurring. A solution to consider is Cisco Umbrella, a state-of-the-art threat detection and prevention service platform, performs innovative security protection at the DNS-layer, and should be considered as part of the multi-layered security infrastructure approach as discussed and confirmed with my peers across in Berlin. We’ve been working with the Umbrella solution for some time, which offers clear benefits to organisations that range from start-ups to the large enterprises. You can sign up to see a demonstration of the key features at one of our security webinars by registering here.

  1. DevNet

The DevNet section was arguably the busiest and most popular section of the event and was filled with developers configuring code to integrate with Cisco software, primarily Spark and Jabber. DevNet is a “Cisco-powered” hub of knowledge, tools and resources that are aimed at enabling developers to build network-optimised solutions. There were key focuses at the event on IoT applications for smart devices, smart cities and smart transport, along with third-party API integrations with Cisco Spark and Jabber.

There was an evident focus on encouraging developers to play around with integrations in mini-lab sessions and to get creative, as part of Cisco’s initiative to encourage innovation across the ‘Cisco-sphere’. One Innovation talk led by Susie Wee, Vice President of DevNet, placed emphasis on the future of tech becoming user-centric, in that many end-users will become the ‘creators’ within their own right as our app culture continues to develop. Individuals are now empowered with initiative tools and building blocks to develop their code and integrations with the aim of satisfying any individual or organisation need whether that’s simplifying a process, or innovating it. In light of this, the tech sector needs to help nurture a sustainable trend through enablement, and Cisco’s DevNet concept and associated resources and wider community is a great example of such collaboration for a new era in application creation. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Cisco Live! and planning out possible application ideas I can take across to Barcelona and share with the community.

If you’d like to learn more about James’ visit to Cisco Live, follow our Twitter account @Nowcomm and view our Twitter Moment for the event!

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