At LunaTech our aim is to provide the very best communication and collaboration services to our clients. How do we define the "best?" Ultimately, it's the experience clients have in the use of our services as well as the support they may need from us along the way.
In order to deliver the kind of experience we're aiming for we realized long ago that the right way -- indeed the only way -- was by cultivating the most intelligent, innovative capabilities found nowhere else but in the cloud. That, in turn, means searching for and partnering with the very best the cloud has to offer.
Enter one such partner: Cisco.
First, A Little Backstory
Cisco, among other things, manufactures enterprise networking equipment (routers, firewalls, and switches) and owns the dominant market share in this space. These devices form the core of business, government, and educational networks around the world. Cisco created modern networking and has very much been considered The Gold Standard against which everyone else is measured.
Sounds good, right?
Except historically LunaTech was quite deliberately not a Cisco partner. Instead, we reluctantly opted to use firewalls and switches from two different Cisco competitors.
Why was that? To be honest, when we started, it came down to finding not the right solution -- it didn't exist yet -- but rather the least painful solution. And for us, and who we were and are, that simply wasn't Cisco. Hence, we accepted and then simply defaulted to the mere sufficiency of other products for our core networking needs. But make no mistake. Even that was painful.
To understand this, it helps to understand the nature of our business. It requires that we wear many hats simultaneously. Because of this, we neither can nor want to spend all our time navigating an unintuitive, confusing GUI or playing diehard network engineers who geek-out over the cryptic nitty-gritty of command line networking. (Seriously, these would make most IT generalists puke).
Moreover, support is a disappointment because it is a one-size-fits-all mess of confusing phone trees, varying support levels and costs, and off-shore support engineers none of us could easily understand. Not to mention the fact that their knowledge of our specific issues was often lacking and contradictory.
Toward the latter half of 2014 we realized there just had to be a better, faster way to deploy, manage, and support our customer networks from anywhere, to anywhere, at any time all the while doing it as securely as possible. It didn't matter if that network centered just around LunaVoice, our Hosted PBX service, one that utilized all our services, or even services our customers may require outside of what we offer.
So the question seemed simple enough. If our services and support infrastructures derive their power from the cloud, why can't our customer voice/data networks do that as well? Why were they still rooted in the limited capabilities and vulnerabilities of the 20th century? And why did it all have to be so damn complicated, arcane, and downright ugly to boot?
Before 2014 was over, we had our answer:
Turns out the answer is perfectly and completely encapsulated in a networking company called Meraki. Or rather, more specifically, Cisco Meraki (Cisco acquired Meraki in 2012). Needless to say, after vetting the Meraki solution, we became a Cisco / Cisco Meraki partner then and there.
Computer Networking: The Last Bastion of 20th Century IT
Years ago, IT was really DIY across the board and at a deeply granular and costly level. You needed to know and do just about everything yourself and do it in your company's own physical environment. That generally also meant a lot of late-night pizza, Twinkies, and diet cokes (and doctor visits).
Today, IT's domain has become so broad. Solutions like Virtualization, Big Data, Cloud Computing, and Something-as-a-Service have reduced operating costs and responsibilities, if not also revealing previously hidden growth opportunities. This in turn has created a demand for IT to focus on relationship-building with the entire business -- not just management execs -- and real, meaningful technology leadership that supports the company's strategy and objectives.
What's the one thing that hasn't quite fully caught up with the rest of IT and is still very much old school? If you guessed "Networking" then give yourself a star for paying attention.
On May 4th, Cisco announced that Chuck Robbins would replace CEO John Chambers. Shortly thereafter, Robbins announced his new management team. In all, this corporate restructuring is the biggest Cisco has had in 20 years when you consider that Chambers has been CEO since 1995!
It started us thinking... could it be that the company we deliberately avoided previously is now one we can't imagine being without? That can't be just irony, can it? Or is it part of a larger strategy?
We think companies like Meraki and OpenDNS are decidely new-school -- not simply because they can be but rather because the time has come that they need to be. We all need it to be. Cisco must recognize this too and we view these acquisitions (and others like them) as an acknowledgement of this belief. We can only imagine others will follow.
The Customer Experience First, The Technology Second
If you've ever taken Cisco Meraki for a test drive (and we don't just mean its wireless access points) then you may know the #Fullstack of Awesomeness it has to offer. While it's not the ideal solution for every network in the world, it is for many in a vertical that will only keep growing. This is to say nothing of the fact that the "horizontal" (solution) itself will also expand over time, which should widen the vertical's coverage even further.
If you've used OpenDNS, then you know that buttoning up your network perimeter and beyond is much like it is when using Meraki to build your network -- simple, fast, and powerful. (In fact, Meraki itself recognized OpenDNS' value and presence in its customers' networks. Meraki integrated OpenDNS as a DNS preference long before Cisco's intent to acquire OpenDNS was a consideration.)
Oh, and the support from these companies? When we've needed it, which is rare, it's been nothing short of a pleasure to receive. And therein lies the final and equally important ingredient around any business. Companies rooted in technology services just seem to be late to the party.
While we have no way to know, we have to imagine that the founders of both Meraki and OpenDNS made a decision (consciously or otherwise) to build their companies, as Steve Jobs said in back 1997, with the customer experience first and then work backwards toward the technology that could deliver it.
And indeed that's where we think networking solutions -- cloud, on-premise, hybrid, whatever -- as a whole will catch up to: experience-driven not technology-driven. After all, this belief in the true value of the customer experience is what made us and will keep us as a Cisco customer. It's what we demand of all our partners because it's the very thing we continually strive to deliver to our customers.
Curious to know how we manage our customers' voice and data networks using Cisco Meraki? Want to see how OpenDNS can help secure your network perimeter?