Software

Cisco taking aim at AI as sector grows

“As this AI era begins, we are very, very prepared to help you navigate this, as we go forward,” CEO Chuck Robbins tells audience at Cisco Live.
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Cisco might have made missteps on cloud, but the company doesn’t intend to repeat the same mistakes on AI.

That was a main thrust of the company’s Cisco Live event in Las Vegas June 2–6, where CEO Chuck Robbins told the crowd at the event keynote on June 4 that the company was correcting for being unprepared in the past.

“Many of you would probably tell us, when the cloud era hit, we perhaps weren’t as prepared as we should have been,” Robbins said. “I will tell you today: As this AI era begins, we are very, very prepared to help you navigate this as we go forward.”

Planning board. Splunk, the data services company that Cisco purchased on March 18, is a good example of the parent company’s drive to expand its AI offerings. Splunk filters machine-generated data and assists organizations in searching that information.

At the annual conference, Cisco announced a $1 billion AI investment fund, a Q4 rollout of the company’s Nexus HyperFabric AI cluster, AI integration into many of its services, and AI-driven security fabric Hypershield. It remains to be seen if the strategy will work. But a company like Cisco can afford to make an overcorrection—even one that might expand the company’s threat surface.

Security service. Mike Horn, Cisco’s SVP and general manager of Splunk security products, told IT Brew at Cisco Live that he understands concerns about AI overreach. While he wouldn’t speak for Cisco overall, he said the security controls at Splunk aim to answer basic questions on how to integrate platforms safely.

“Have we done an audit? Have we done vulnerability scanning? Have we done code reviews? Have we done a long list of things to make sure that, if there were an incident, that it would be constrained to what would have existed before then the opposition is exposing the broader organization?” Horn said, rattling off the concerns his team would need to address.

Coordination and cooperation are key, he added.

“Now, the second person I go talk to is the Cisco security team,” Horn said. “And eventually that’ll be one [thing], but they’re the ones that are in the front lines, in the trenches.”

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.