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HomeEnterprise ITArtificial IntelligenceWe may have been late to Cloud, but fully prepared for AI era: Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

We may have been late to Cloud, but fully prepared for AI era: Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

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"When the cloud era hit, we perhaps were not as prepared as we should have been. I will tell you today, as this AI era begins, we are very, very prepared," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said at Cisco Live 2024.

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may not have been fully prepared for the cloud transition, but the company is confidently entering the AI era with robust readiness and a clear vision. As AI becomes central to technological innovation, Cisco aims to position itself as a leader in leveraging this transformative technology to enhance productivity, security and growth, said a top executive.

“When the cloud era hit, we perhaps were not as prepared as we should have been. I will tell you today, as this AI era begins, we are very, very prepared,” Cisco CEO said at Cisco Live 2024.

Cisco's AI push is comprehensive, integrating connectivity, protection, and insights across all technological domains. Robbins underlined the company's commitment to providing visibility into technology architectures and enhancing both security and operational efficiency across hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, SaaS applications, remote users, and IoT devices.

At the core of Cisco's strategy are its strengths in and security, which enable it to have greater visibility across underlying massive data and IT infrastructure. According to industry analysts, this positions it to lead the AI-wave in networking infrastructure innovation.

“AI's effectiveness depends on the quality and volume of data, positioning Cisco's vast data resources as a critical asset,” Cisco CEO said, adding that the networking giant aims to unleash the power of customer data to gain insights and deliver enhanced experiences.

According to Robbins, data plays a pivotal role in AI implementation and Cisco's extensive datasets offer a significant advantage. Cisco has visibility into one billion endpoints and ingests four petabytes of data daily into Cloud, which it acquired for about $28 billion in March this year. “By leveraging AI and analytics capabilities, Cisco aims to deliver actionable insights that enhance security and user experience,” he said.

The top technology leader acknowledged the dual role of AI in enhancing security measures while also posing potential risks. “AI is the worst thing that has ever happened and the best thing that has ever happened,” he said, stressing the need for robust AI-driven security solutions aimed at ‘security for AI and AI for security.'

One of Cisco's recent initiatives, Hypershield, launched at RSA, represents a significant advancement in AI-driven security measures. The collaboration with also resulted in the development of HyperFabric, designed to simplify AI deployment with an integrated stack.

Cisco's WebEx platform has integrated AI to significantly enhance user experience. “If you need to leave a meeting, when you come back, it will say, ‘Would you like me to summarise what you missed?'” Robbins explained, highlighting AI's potential to boost productivity.

A key component of Cisco's AI strategy is a $1 billion AI fund aimed at fostering unique co-development activities with partner companies. Unlike traditional investment approaches, this fund focuses on collaboration to bring more innovative solutions to market.

“We are not just investing to watch them and see what they can do, and let's see if we can make a little return on this money. Part of our investment thesis is that there are unique co-development activities that we can enter into with them to bring more innovative solutions for helping our customers navigate the AI transition,” he explained.

Highlighting the need for businesses to move quickly in the AI space, drawing parallels to the early days of cloud adoption, he predicted that AI would generate significant pressure on organisations to deploy use cases and applications swiftly to stay competitive. According to him, this urgency stems from the fear that competitors might leverage AI to gain a substantial advantage, making rapid AI adoption essential.

As AI reshapes the technological landscape, according to Robbins, Cisco aims to make AI work for its customers responsibly and effectively. “We will continue to operate against our responsible AI framework as we bring solutions,” he said, ensuring that AI advancements align with ethical standards and community values.

Cisco plans to assist partners in navigating the AI journey by focusing on how to get started, choosing the right ML models, considering custom models, and understanding the differences and capabilities of various companies to make informed decisions.

“At the end of the day, we just want to help make AI work for you. We want to make AI work for us, and we want to help you get there in a responsible, safe way that provides the value you can garner from all the data you have in your enterprise organisation. That is all we want to do,” he said.

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Mohd Ujaley
Mohd Ujaley
Mohd Ujaley is a New Delhi-based journalist covering the intersection of technology with government, public sector, defence, and large enterprises. With a career spanning over 14 years, Ujaley has held editorial positions at prestigious publications including The Economic Times, ETGovernment, Indian Express Group, Financial Express, Express Computer, and CRN India.
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