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Cisco Canada looks to become a venture capitalist

Nitin Kawale is the president of Cisco Canada

TORONTO – “Do you have a good idea? Then we’ll invest.” That was the president of Cisco Canada, Nitin Kawale, told CDN during the Cisco Connect conference.

Cisco Canada is about one month away from announcing details of its venture capital plan to the market. Kawale said that venture capital is part of the subsidiary’s five-point plan for the country:

  1. Increase the research and development footprint;
  2. Introduce two research centres;
  3. Venture capital;
  4. All communities participate in education and healthcare; and
  5. Make sure the data centre has an important role to play.

“This is about transforming Canada. The world is in transformation. And, Cisco has transformed from routing to switching, packets, mobility, video, cloud, app centric and now the Internet of Everything. Cisco wants to be a disrupter for technology transformations,” Kawale said.

Kawale did not want to tip his hand and reveal the venture capital plan. He said that he’ll save that for down the road. Cisco will tap existing venture capital along with direct investments. Kawale also shared the reason why he and Cisco Canada want to become a venture capitalist. According to Kawale, it stems from the lack of innovation that networking giant sees across Canada and the challenges facing start-ups.

From a Cisco Canada perspective, the company has vast resources and a desire to tap into the Canadian innovation pool.

“It took a while to convince the company about this. We wanted to do a lot more and whatever money we asked for I got and HQ then doubled it,” he said.

Kawale added that Cisco Canada would also be interested in minority investment. The one requirement of the venture capital plan will be for the partnering company to have the ability to match up with Cisco’s strategy.

“We’ve done this in other places and we have done some stuff in Canada, but it was without focus,” he said.

Another fact Kawale revealed during the interview was that every venture capital company in Canada knows Cisco is doing this. Kawale sees these venture capitalist firms as partners, not adversaries.

“They can be a funnel for us, but let me make it clear to the VCs and the incubators on what we’re looking for: You’re not going to see 100 investments made by Cisco Canada in a year. We will pick and choose,” he said.

Cisco Managed Threat Defense

Cisco also announced Managed Threat Defense, a managed security solution that applies real-time, predictive analytics to detect attacks and protect against advanced malware across the network.

The Cisco Annual Security Report revealed 30 of the world’s largest multinational company networks had traffic going to Websites that host malware. One of the findings from the report was that it was increasingly difficult to address them in real-time; in many cases, years pass before organizations are aware their networks have been breached. To compound this issue, finding the right talent to effectively staff security operations can be a challenge. Cisco estimates this year there will be a global shortage of more than one million security professionals.

Managed Threat Defense is an on-premise solution, comprised of hardware, software, and analytics designed to monitor, capture, and analyze threats.  Cisco’s worldwide network of expert-staffed security operations centres (SOCs) monitor the service and provide incident response analysis, escalation, and remediation recommendations.