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CYBER


Innovation is still at the heart of Cisco, 35 years after its founders paved the way for high speed networks


Strong connections count


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


If you trace the roots of the American tech company Cisco, its foundation – and its future success – was very much based on its desire to help the world communicate. As an internet pioneer, the network en- gineering skill of its founders – Stan- ford University computer science graduates Sandy Lerner and Leonard Bosack – paved the way for the mod- ern era of high-speed connectivity and, of course, remote working. Troughout the Covid-19 pan-


demic, Cisco has been helping its customers “flip” their business models to keep millions of workers in contact with their offices and colleagues, and to keep the wheels of global productivity turning. Tat story is told in the data:


according to Cisco’s own survey of 10,000 respondents across 12 coun- tries in Europe, the Middle East and Russia – just 16 per cent of organisa- tions reported having more than half of their workforce remote before the pandemic, a figure that soared to 67 per cent during peak lockdown times. And even though there is still great uncertainty, the data indicates that – in the UK at least – the remote worker figure is predicted to stay at around 50 per cent post-pandemic. Cisco works with over 90 per


cent of Scottish public sector organisations and has over the years cultivated an unmatched reputation for network engineering


and enterprise architecture. During Covid-19, it has worked to


develop that offer further: its Secure Remote Worker solution with built-in multi-factor authentication has en- abled organisations to pivot quickly and safely to a trusted environment in which to continue to operate. Also at the core of the offering are security layers that help ward off the growing threat of ransomware, whether it be a VPN or threat detection capabilities that provide visibility from all corners of the internet. Te vastness of its reach through Cisco Talos enables it to scan for – and block – over 20 bil- lion threats a day, reportedly exceed- ing the total number of daily Google searches. “Our strengths are threefold,”


says Ishbell MacPhail, Cisco’s Coun- try Manager in Scotland. “Trust, innovation and choice. If you look at the data, we support 100 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies, and we’ve been selected as the best place to work globally two years in a row, with Gartner also citing us as the number one supply chain ven- dor coming out of the pandemic. “Our products and services are


built around that core networking strength, with our highly engi- neered solutions, but also increas- ingly around how we can support innovation in emerging cyber tech- nologies through investment and the incubation of cyber startups, right across the UK. “Allied to that are the scaleability


30 | FUTURESCOT | SUMMER 2021


and flexibility of the solutions we offer to customers. Trough the pandemic we have helped support the smallest of SMEs to the largest of enterprises, to the frontline of the NHS.”


The product perhaps most familiar to many during the pandemic has been Webex – the conferencing platform used by many public sector organisations in Scotland, including the health and justice sectors. Glob- ally, the platform almost doubled its user base from 342 million to 600 million in what MacPhail says was a “very short space of time”. Te NHS was an organisation


Cisco actively “prioritised’ in terms of equipping front-line health workers with the tools they needed to allow them to carry on delivering vital care. MacPhail adds: “Essentially, it


was prioritising government servic- es and all front-facing staff, getting


the right infrastructure to custom- ers, securing their enterprises and helping them understand how they could have their people working effectively on any device, from any app, anywhere. “Because security was such a


massive concern for every organi- sation our focus was on keeping people operational, supporting our customers through a difficult transition and keeping the engine going. But actually, that remote operational footing required a mas- sive focus on cybersecurity, as we are now working in a world where there is an enhanced threat level.” Te company also has one eye


on the future, and how the world is shifting through a time of great uncertainty. Cisco is aligning itself closely with government priorities and thinking, so that post-pandem- ic it can play an active role in the notion of “building back better”. In Scotland, the recent digital


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