Three years ago Cisco Systems and longtime partner Dimension Data came together to launch a pilot project to protect threatened rhinos from poachers. In two years, the Connected Conservation project reduced poaching near the Kruger National Park in South Africa by 96 per cent.
Last week the two companies announced a multi-year partnership that will see the two innovating around 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain. Dave Ward, Cisco’s Chief Technology Officer, said the co-innovation agreement will build on projects like Connected Conservation while providing the two organizations with more flexibility to pursue other complicated projects faster.
“The co-innovation agreement I signed with CTO of Dimension Data, Ettienne Reinecke, allows us to select specific projects, problems and customers to that we want to go after,” Ward told CDN. “It gives us the ability to bring new technology, which may not have been built into our products yet, and may not have a go-to-market motion at the start…to the customer to try and solve those complex problems.”
In a press release, Reinecke said the agreement will lead to ”some exciting innovations for our clients.”
“This partnership means we’re in a stronger position to research, test, and develop new offerings at a speed beyond the traditional market cycle,” he said.
The future of the channel
Cisco’s emerging technology in the 5G space, such as its recently unveiled 5G Network Slice Selection Function, allows intent-based networking functionality used on a Wi-Fi network to be applied to traffic moving from enterprise wireless to cellular circuits and back. So when an employee leaves the campus wireless network and transitions to a cellular slice, the same policies apply to the employee’s device for permission to connect to specific applications.
This type of technology, explained Ward, can make its way into the hands of a partner like Dimension Data before its built into any Cisco product through a co-innovation agreement. It’s ultimately a way to fast-track complicated projects, and it’s the future of the channel, according to Nadeem Ahmad, Dimension Data’s Group vice-president, CTO Office.
“Innovation is the only sustainable form of differentiation,” he told CDN. “It’s quickly becoming a requirement to compete in the market. That’s the future of the channel.”
Ward confirmed that Cisco’s co-innovation centre in Toronto will play a key role in developing and rolling out new solutions, especially when it comes to distributed ledger technology. Cisco is open to other partners entering into a co-innovation agreement with them, but they have to be at scale, and they should have the ability to create their own intellectual property.