“The pandemic has thrown the world out of its comfort zone, and to survive in this new world, investing in innovation to adapt to a dynamic environment has become essential”- Vishak Raman, Director, Security Business, Cisco India & SAARC
With the world becoming more connected and digitised by the day, safeguarding the employees, customers, and assets require data privacy and security to be a top priority. Especially now, when the attack surface is becoming far broader and more complex. According to a Cisco survey, cyber threats have risen by over 25 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic, in more than 65% of companies in India.
To further understand how Cisco is driving the digital transformation with security in India, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Vishak Raman, Director, Security Business at Cisco India & SAARC. With over 20 years of experience in the Information Security Services space within the product, management, sales, marketing and business development at Cisco, Raman is currently leading the Security business for India and SAARC region.
As the threat landscape is widening and becoming more complex, Raman and his team focus on innovating simplified, cloud-delivered solutions that allow the customers to empower their hybrid workforces, virtualise their workflows and automate their operations seamlessly and securely.
AIM: How has been Cisco’s Journey in India?
Raman: We have been in India for 25 years, and I’m very proud of the progress we have made here – sales, engineering, investments in startups, CDA, CSR, Networking Academies, etc.
Additionally, Cisco has the largest R&D centre in India outside of San Jose, our headquarters. Over the last 25 years, Cisco’s presence has evolved – from capability development to co-developing end-to-end solutions with customers, partners, and startups. Today, India is working on some of the most advanced technologies for Cisco. India R&D is helping Cisco transform its core businesses and enabling a majority of our portfolio to be delivered as a service. India is fast emerging as a centre of excellence for AI, Automation, and Security for Cisco. Learnings from India on AI, Security, Automation, and Analytics are now leveraged across our portfolio.
Our work in India enables customers to simplify their digital transformation and help them make better business decisions based on insights. The next decade represents the most remarkable expansion of technology we’ve seen yet, and Cisco in India is well-positioned to lead this expansion.
AIM: How important is the Indian market for Cisco and its products/services?
Raman: Cisco is enabling India to digitise at scale and speed, as we continue to help India and its businesses achieve their digitisation objectives. We already see a growing appetite for technologies that are easy to use, consume and pay for, while offering enterprise-grade security. For instance, Webex in India has seen the second-highest usage outside of the US during the pandemic – on an average; we have had over 12.5M meetings per month and over 100M participants in India. This was led not just by enterprises, but small businesses and entrepreneurs as well. In fact, the demand was so much that we launched our e-commerce portal in India to make it easy for customers to buy WebEx online.
We continue to see traction across our security, collaboration, cloud, networking, and other portfolios, representing unprecedented transformation and economic opportunity in the country. We believe that the emerging low-touch economy, infrastructure modernisation, workplace transformation, small businesses, and 5G will be the key growth drivers for Cisco in India over the next 3-5 years.
AIM: What are some of the latest developments that Cisco is facilitating in the area of cybersecurity?
Raman: Our security strategy is focused on delivering an effective cybersecurity architecture combining network, cloud, and endpoint-based solutions. Our intent is to enable our customers to secure their networks for a multi-cloud world by delivering a platform that continuously detects threats and verifies trust.
In these efforts, we recently introduced Cisco SecureX, a broad cloud-based security platform to provide unified visibility and automation across applications, network, endpoints, and the cloud. We also integrated Cisco SD-WAN with Cisco Umbrella, helping customers evolve toward a SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) architecture. This future secure networking model, which delivers security and networking services together from the cloud, is intended to allow organisations to securely connect any user or device to any application with the best experience.
AIM: How is Cisco helping employees, customers, and partners implement secure and seamless WFH during the current crisis?
Raman: Our priority during this time has been to help our customers, partners, and the industry to keep their newly remote workforces productive. We made our products, policies, plans, and processes on remote business continuity available to everyone and enabled free access to cloud-delivered technologies across our collaboration and security portfolios. Our products have helped large ITes, FSI and public sector companies to transition to WFM scenario.
In April alone, we engaged with over 600 customers to help them with business continuity plans in India; at the same time, we enabled over 500,000 knowledge workers in India to work from home securely.
We have so far enabled business continuity for over 200 government organisations across 26 states and central government entities. We have also helped over 100 district courts and high courts to conduct proceedings seamlessly and safely.
AIM: What according to you will be the new normal for the tech industry in the coming future?
Raman: The way we see it, there are four major trends that are shaping the new normal. Firstly, home is the new office. Many organisations are considering hybrid work models post-COVID, which means that workforces will become far more remote, diverse and dispersed.
Next, the cloud will be the new data centre. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the cloud transition, and this trend is likely to continue, as the migration to virtual work accentuates the urgency for scalable, secure, reliable, cost-effective off-premises technology services.
Thirdly, the internet is the new network. The network traffic levels that were predicted to reach in two years arrived almost overnight, as earlier what was the peak usage hours is now typical for most of the day.
Lastly, identity is the new perimeter. In today’s environment, with remote workers distributed across the globe and cloud deployments, the traditional perimeter has to be reimagined, as the fundamental unit of access, is now identity.
AIM: What are some tips that you would like to share with deep tech startups to deal with the challenges created due to COVID?
Raman: This pandemic has thrown the world out of its comfort zone. To survive in this new world, investing in innovation to adapt to a dynamic environment has become essential. I truly believe that it’s a great time for deep tech startups to create and innovate, as they have the opportunity to pivot quickly, plug gaps, and create differentiated offerings for the new digital consumer as well as create a level playing field.
As someone looking to venture into the deep tech startup ecosystem, I would say be prepared for the worst and quick to adapt depending on the situation. As an entrepreneur one should know how to assess risks and act accordingly. In this dynamic ecosystem, deep tech startups need to identify the right partners to accelerate, not just digital transformation, but also business transformation, because these challenges are far too complex for anyone to solve on their own. The ecosystem is competitive and fierce. Therefore it’s crucial to articulate the business impact rather than just the technical terms.
Finally, be patient and relentless as it will take time for large corporations and investors to realise the value. To successfully navigate this crisis, businesses’ willingness to disrupt themselves will be key, and those who do will emerge stronger.