LAS VEGAS — Noticeably absent from Cisco CEO Chuck Robbin’s opening keynote address at Cisco Live 2017 was any mention of the company’s collaboration with Ericsson. The partnership, which was announced in November 2015, was heralded by both companies as a way to attract more business for both firms and expand into new product areas.
When asked about the collaboration at a press briefing later in the day, Robbins said that he has talked with Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm about the partnership and they agree on the vision. However, he said that Cisco is giving Ekholm, who took over the top job at Ericsson in January, some “space” on the deal while he works through some issues at Ericsson. “We will have patience with him as he reworks the company,” Robbins added.
Although Robbins didn’t go into detail about exactly what issues Ekholm is working through, it is no secret that Ericsson has been facing some significant challenges. In the first quarter, the company reported a net loss of $1.2 billion. And in May it announced that Rima Qureshi, the head of Ericsson North America and a key player in the partnership, had left the company.
However, Robbins added that he expects the Cisco-Ericsson partnership work to accelerate soon. “We expect to get back on track in the next three to six months,” he said.
Speaking with SDxCentral at Cisco Live, Martin Zander, VP and head of PMO and partnering at Ericsson, said the companies are still working together and signing deals. In fact, at the end of the first quarter, the two companies reported they had signed more than 140 deals together.
However, Zander added that because of Ericsson’s restructuring of its management team, it is fair to say the two companies have taken a bit of a pause on the expansion of their collaboration while Ericsson shuffles its management team. In late March, Ekholm announced a new structure that revolved around three business areas: Networks, Digital Services, and Managed Services. In addition, Ekholm said there would be five market areas, down from 10.
But the companies are still meeting regularly. Zander said that executives from both teams have weekly meetings every Thursday morning where they review the status of different deals and projects. “There are transformational deals that we are working on,” he added.
Apple Partnership Touted
One partnership that did take center stage at Cisco Live was Cisco’s partnership with Apple. Robbins welcomed Apple CEO Tim Cook to the stage at his keynote address, and the two discussed Cisco Security Connector, a new application for the iPad and the iPhone that promises to deliver more security and privacy for Apple iOS devices.
Cook said that Apple believes it can provide the enterprise with enhanced security by owning “the silicon to the software.”
Cisco Security Connector will be released in the fall.
Robbins and Cook also hinted about a new security product for Internet of Things (IoT) devices that would be based upon Cisco’s new Intent-based networking capability that the company announced last week.
Robbins said the IoT security product could take applications on the network, mark them as business critical, and the network could provide additional security. This functionality incorporates something Cisco is calling software-defined access, which uses automated policy enforcement and network segmentation over a single network fabric. The goal is to simplify network access by automating day-to-day tasks. “With software-defined access (SDA) we can programmatically do that,” Robbins said.
The opening of Cisco Live! 2017 at the auditorium at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.
Clarification: This article was updated to reflect that because of Ericsson’s restructuring Cisco and Ericsson are taking a pause from expanding their collaboration.