The Cisco and Apple deal looks good on paper – but what can the CIO take away today?

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Cisco and Apple have announced a partnership to optimise Cisco networks for iOS devices and create a ‘fast lane’ for iOS business users.

Whereas eight years ago Cisco was winging a lawsuit to Cupertino for allegedly infringing its iPhone trademark, the companies now have a mutual goal. The deal continues to play into the trend of Apple building, rather than burning, bridges with technology giants, and has echoes with the enterprise app partnership announced with IBM one year ago.

Yet the parallels between Apple-IBM and Apple-Cisco don’t go much further. While the IBM deal revolved primarily around industry vertical-centric, custom built applications, Apple’s deal with Cisco concentrates more on optimised networks and performance of the likes of Cisco Spark, Telepresence and WebEx, pushing iOS devices even further into the enterprise and resulting in greater enterprise collaboration.

The announcement contained precious little detail – so what should enterprises take away from this? Despite the deal looking ‘good on paper’, CCS Insight VP enterprise Nick McQuire remains sceptical. This is partly down to predictions from many media and analysts – this publication included – expecting great things from the Apple-IBM deal which so far have not arrived. More importantly though, McQuire believes executives will still have more questions than answers long term.

“At the moment, from my point of view I think Cisco benefit more,” he tells Enterprise AppsTech. “It certainly adds value to their core. If it makes it easier to get access to Apple products through Cisco, then possibly this could benefit both, but I don’t see this immediately pulling through iOS and iPad devices.

“This will certainly be another tick box on the Apple devices from a CIO point of view, particularly if they [use] Cisco infrastructure, but I think if you’re an enterprise, you’ll be saying to yourself ‘that’s great, but how do I engage this partnership?’ I think that piece is still missing.”

One point of similarity between the two firms is abundantly clear. Apple notes nearly every Fortune 500 company uses iOS in its mobile strategy, while Cisco boasts that 95% of Fortune 500 firms use Cisco networks and collaboration tools. Even though the two partnerships are different, could Apple learn from the year partnering IBM and turn the nascent relationship with Cisco into more of a critical success?

McQuire argues: “Part of what they’ll possibly learn is the expectations, certainly from large scale big Fortune 500 enterprise, those types of larger scale application projects on the back of custom projects, take time to materialise. A partnership with Cisco, formulating that partnership, putting the commercial arrangement together and getting to market will take time. Their expectations will have to be managed.”

McQuire agrees the expectations for Apple and IBM were ‘way high’, so it’s not surprising analysts are being a little more circumspect this time round, although headlines such as “The Apple Cisco deal may change the world” still pervade. Yet the partnership certainly has natural sweet spots for both parties.

“From the Cisco point of view it provides them with a little bit of a cache in consumer electronic-driven trends affecting enterprise software and technology,” McQuire explains. “Cisco makes a lot of money in networking, and networking infrastructure, particularly Wi-Fi, so making mobile devices more optimal for that infrastructure is good news for both of those parties.

“Obviously Cisco has a lot of collaboration technology and software that rides over the top of the network, [so it] makes sense for Cisco to work in a development capacity with Apple to make those products more optimal on iOS devices,” he adds. “I think it’s going to be interesting to see whether this moves the needle for both companies above and beyond the fact that they’ll make their products more optimal.”

Do you have high expectations for Apple and Cisco’s enterprise deal? Let us know in the comments...

 

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