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New Cisco managed services seek to ease IT talent shortage

New Cisco managed services take away mundane tasks from network engineers, so they can spend more time on high-value projects. Also, Cisco buys machine learning firm Perspica.

Cisco has introduced managed services that remove mundane networking tasks from engineers' to-do list, freeing...

up time to work on projects to streamline and advance business operations.

Cisco unveiled this week Business Critical and High-Value Services the company said would let customers make better use of network managers' time. The Cisco managed services are expected to help the vendor reach its goal of boosting software and services revenue to half of overall sales by 2020.

To entice companies, Cisco is marketing the services as a way to address the shortage in IT talent by making more efficient use of networking staff. In a Cisco-sponsored white paper, IDC found 69% of more than 1,000 IT leaders surveyed worked in organizations lacking sufficient expertise to digitize business processes.

The latest Cisco managed services attack the problem by taking over routine networking tasks that take up roughly a quarter of engineers' time. Similar services are also available through other vendors, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei and Juniper Networks.

"I wouldn't say the features and functionality are new [in the market]," IDC analyst Leslie Rosenberg said of the latest services. "It's more of an evolution of their existing offers."

Cisco Business Critical Services

With Business Critical Services, Cisco is offering to remotely handle, for example, chores related to deploying new networking hardware. The tasks would include configuring the devices and applying already-defined policies.

The use of third parties to automate routine jobs is a trend Rosenberg sees in the overall services market. "In my opinion, it's going to begin to change the way enterprise customers consume and drive value from services," she said. "Anything that you're doing twice manually, you should be automating."

New Cisco managed services also include the collection of telemetry data from customers' networks and using it to advise them on corrective actions to prevent potential problems. Cisco can also use the collected data to inform customers on how to keep the network running at its peak performance level.

Cisco High-Value Services

Cisco's High-Value Services is an additional support option. Under the service, Cisco, or one of its partner, will install a new product and make sure all licensed features are turned on and running. Cisco would still offer more advanced services for more complex deployments that require, for example, integration with third-party software or hardware.

"If [companies] just want to get it up and running faster and right the first time, then they have the opportunity to buy the service from Cisco," Rosenberg said.

Cisco acquires Perspica

Meanwhile, Cisco announced this week it would acquire Perspica, a company based in San Jose, Calif., that applies machine learning to analyze streaming data, rather than waiting until it is stored. Cisco plans to use Perspica technology and expertise with its AppDynamics software for monitoring and analyzing application data. Cisco acquired the company AppDynamics this year for $3.7 billion.

Perspica and its engineers will become a part of Cisco's AppDynamics unit. Combining technology from the two acquisitions will provide analytics that is "infinitely scalable and ridiculously fast to keep pace with developments in the enterprise," Bhaskar Sunkara, CTO of AppDynamics, said in a blog post.

Cisco did not disclose financial details of the latest acquisition.

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