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Exam Code: 350-401 Practice exam 2022 by team
350-401 Implementing Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (ENCOR)

350-401 ENCOR
Certifications: CCNP Enterprise, CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure, CCIE Enterprise Wireless, Cisco Certified Specialist - Enterprise Core
Duration: 120 minutes

This exam tests your knowledge and skills related to implementing core enterprise network technologies, including:
- Dual stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture
- Virtualization
- Infrastructure
- Network assurance
- Security
- Automation

Exam Description
The Implementing Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies v1.0 (ENCOR 350-401) exam is a 120-minute exam associated with the CCNP® Enterprise, CCIE® Enterprise Infrastructure, CCIE Enterprise Wireless, and Cisco Certified Specialist – Enterprise Core certifications. This exam tests a candidate's knowledge of implementing core enterprise network technologies including dual stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security and automation. The course, Implementing Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies, helps candidates to prepare for this exam.

15% 1.0 Architecture
1.1 Explain the different design principles used in an enterprise network
1.1.a Enterprise network design such as Tier 2, Tier 3, and Fabric Capacity planning
1.1.b High availability techniques such as redundancy, FHRP, and SSO
1.2 Analyze design principles of a WLAN deployment
1.2.a Wireless deployment models (centralized, distributed, controller-less, controller based, cloud, remote branch)
1.2.b Location services in a WLAN design
1.3 Differentiate between on-premises and cloud infrastructure deployments
1.4 Explain the working principles of the Cisco SD-WAN solution
1.4.a SD-WAN control and data planes elements
1.4.b Traditional WAN and SD-WAN solutions
1.5 Explain the working principles of the Cisco SD-Access solution
1.5.a SD-Access control and data planes elements
1.5.b Traditional campus interoperating with SD-Access
1.6 Describe concepts of wired and wireless QoS
1.6.a QoS components
1.6.b QoS policy
1.7 Differentiate hardware and software switching mechanisms
1.7.a Process and CEF
1.7.b MAC address table and TCAM
1.7.c FIB vs. RIB
10% 2.0 Virtualization
2.1 Describe device virtualization technologies
2.1.a Hypervisor type 1 and 2
2.1.b Virtual machine
2.1.c Virtual switching
2.2 Configure and verify data path virtualization technologies
2.2.a VRF
2.2.b GRE and IPsec tunneling
2.3 Describe network virtualization concepts
2.3.a LISP
2.3.b VXLAN
30% 3.0 Infrastructure
3.1 Layer 2
3.1.a Troubleshoot static and dynamic 802.1q trunking protocols
3.1.b Troubleshoot static and dynamic EtherChannels
3.1.c Configure and verify common Spanning Tree Protocols (RSTP and MST)
3.2 Layer 3
3.2.a Compare routing concepts of EIGRP and OSPF (advanced distance vector vs. linked state, load balancing, path selection, path operations, metrics)
3.2.b Configure and verify simple OSPF environments, including multiple normal areas, summarization, and filtering (neighbor adjacency, point-to-point and broadcast network types, and passive interface)
3.2.c Configure and verify eBGP between directly connected neighbors (best path selection algorithm and neighbor relationships)
3.3 Wireless
3.3.a Describe Layer 1 concepts, such as RF power, RSSI, SNR, interference noise, band and channels, and wireless client devices capabilities
3.3.b Describe AP modes and antenna types
3.3.c Describe access point discovery and join process (discovery algorithms, WLC selection process)
3.3.d Describe the main principles and use cases for Layer 2 and Layer 3 roaming
3.3.e Troubleshoot WLAN configuration and wireless client connectivity issues
3.4 IP Services
3.4.a Describe Network Time Protocol (NTP)
3.4.b Configure and verify NAT/PAT
3.4.c Configure first hop redundancy protocols, such as HSRP and VRRP
3.4.d Describe multicast protocols, such as PIM and IGMP v2/v3
10% 4.0 Network Assurance
4.1 Diagnose network problems using tools such as debugs, conditional debugs, trace route, ping, SNMP, and syslog
4.2 Configure and verify device monitoring using syslog for remote logging
4.3 Configure and verify NetFlow and Flexible NetFlow
4.4 Configure and verify SPAN/RSPAN/ERSPAN
4.5 Configure and verify IPSLA
4.6 Describe Cisco DNA Center workflows to apply network configuration, monitoring, and management
4.7 Configure and verify NETCONF and RESTCONF
20% 5.0 Security
5.1 Configure and verify device access control
5.1.a Lines and password protection
5.1.b Authentication and authorization using AAA
5.2 Configure and verify infrastructure security features
5.2.a ACLs
5.2.b CoPP
5.3 Describe REST API security
5.4 Configure and verify wireless security features
5.4.a EAP
5.4.b WebAuth
5.4.c PSK
5.5 Describe the components of network security design
5.5.a Threat defense
5.5.b Endpoint security
5.5.c Next-generation firewall
5.5.d TrustSec, MACsec
5.5.e Network access control with 802.1X, MAB, and WebAuth
15% 6.0 Automation
6.1 Interpret basic Python components and scripts
6.2 Construct valid JSON encoded file
6.3 Describe the high-level principles and benefits of a data modeling language, such as YANG
6.4 Describe APIs for Cisco DNA Center and vManage
6.5 Interpret REST API response codes and results in payload using Cisco DNA Center and RESTCONF
6.6 Construct EEM applet to automate configuration, troubleshooting, or data collection
6.7 Compare agent vs. agentless orchestration tools, such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, and SaltStack

Implementing Cisco Enterprise Network Core Technologies (ENCOR)
Cisco Implementing test
Killexams : Cisco Implementing test - BingNews Search results Killexams : Cisco Implementing test - BingNews Killexams : Cisco updates SD-WAN to simplify provisioning, management

Cisco is set to unveil a new edition of its SD-WAN software that will extend the system’s reach and include new management capabilities.

Among the most significant enhancements to Cisco SD-WAN release 17.10, expected in December, is the ability to use Cisco SD-WAN Multi Region Fabric (MRF) support with existing Software Defined Cloud Interconnect (SDCI) systems to significantly expand the reach and control of the SD-WAN environment. 

MRF lets customers divide their SD-WAN environments into multiple regional networks that operate distinctly from one another, along with a central core-region network for managing inter-regional traffic, according to Cisco. 

SDCI technology is used to link enterprise resources to a variety of cloud, network, and internet service providers. Cisco customers could use SDCI with their SD-WAN deployments in the past but not MRF.

By combining the two technologies and using the Cloud OnRamp Multicloud Interconnect Gateway in Cisco SD-WAN software, customers can now set network, configuration and security policies across a wide variety of locations from a central site. Cisco’s SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp links branch offices or individual remote users to cloud applications such as Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft 365, AWS, Google, Oracle, Salesforce and more.

Customers can now assign regions and roles to SD-WAN edges deployed within SDCI infrastructure, and they can segment MRF regions into multiple sub-regions and share border routers between these sub-regions, allowing for better redundancy and failover-centric network designs, according to John Joyal, senior manager, product and solutions marketing with Cisco's enterprise SD-WAN and routing group. (Joyal wrote a blog about Cisco's SD-WAN MRF enhancements.)

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Mon, 05 Dec 2022 12:57:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Cisco shares pop on earnings beat and increased 2023 forecast

A sign bearing the logo for communications and security tech giant Cisco Systems Inc is seen outside one of its offices in San Jose, California, August 11, 2022.

Paresh Dave | Reuters

Cisco reported fiscal first-quarter results on Wednesday that beat analysts' estimates and boosted its guidance for fiscal 2023.

The stock rose about 5% in extended trading.

Here's how the company did:

  • Earnings per share: 86 cents vs. 84 cents expected, according to Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $13.6 billion vs. $13.3 billion expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv

Revenue increased 6% year over year, while net income slid 10% to $2.7 billion. The company now expects sales growth in fiscal 2023 of 4.5% to 6.5%, up from a prior forecast that called for growth of 4% to 6%.

CFO Scott Herren said in a company release that Cisco delivered "strong results" and attributed the company's guidance forecast in part to an "easing supply situation."

While Cisco's numbers topped estimates, the company is still struggling to grow as the technology world rapidly shifts to cloud and subscription software and away from buying physical boxes. Cisco's stock price is down 27% this year, while the Nasdaq has dropped 29%.

Cisco's top business segment, which includes data-center networking switches, delivered $6.68 billion in revenue, up 12% from a year earlier.

Internet for the Future, its second-largest unit, saw revenue drop 5% to $1.3 billion. The division contains routed optical networking hardware the company picked up through its 2021 Acacia Communications acquisition.

Sales in the Collaboration segment, which features Webex, contributed $1.1 billion in revenue, down 2% year over year.

Cisco will hold its quarterly call with investors at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Wed, 16 Nov 2022 07:33:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : IBM On Track To Achieve Quantum Advantage By 2026 Using Error Mitigation

Noise is currently quantum computing’s biggest challenge as well as its most significant limitation. IBM is working to reduce that noise in the next few years through various types of quantum error management until true quantum error correction (QEC) is attained.

Here is why reducing noise is so important. A quantum bit (qubit) is the basic unit of information for quantum computers, and the longer a qubit can maintain its quantum state, the more computational operations it can perform. Unfortunately, qubits are very sensitive to environmental noise, which can come from a quantum computer’s control electronics, wiring, cryogenics, other qubits, heat, and even external factors such as cosmic radiation. Noise is problematic because it can cause a qubit’s quantum state to collapse (a condition called decoherence) and thus create errors. An uncorrected error can cascade into an avalanche of errors and destroy an entire computation.

This type of noise originates at the atomic level, and even though it can't be completely eliminated, it can be managed.

Quantum advantage and noise

Despite media hype, there is no documented evidence that current quantum computers are more powerful than classical supercomputers. Even so, there is no question that quantum computers have an indisputable advantage. Most experts believe it's only a matter of time before quantum computing demonstrates its superiority compared to classical supercomputers. When that occurs, quantum computing will have achieved what is commonly referred to as “quantum advantage.”

IBM defines quantum advantage as a significant improvement in quantum algorithm runtime for practical cases over the best classical algorithm. Its blog further states that the algorithm needed to prove quantum advantage must have an efficient representation as quantum circuits, and there should be no classical algorithm capable of simulating those circuits efficiently.

But here’s the dilemma: For quantum computers to achieve quantum advantage, besides improving qubit coherence, gate fidelities, and speed of circuit execution, we must also significantly increase computational qubit counts. But upping the number of qubits also increases noise and qubit errors. Therefore, managing noise and qubit errors is critical to the long-term success of quantum computing.

Although error correction is common in classical computers and in certain types of memory hardware, we can’t use the same techniques in quantum computers because the laws of quantum mechanics make it impossible to clone unknown quantum states.

Quantum error correction (QEC) is a complex engineering and physics problem. And despite its importance and the number of years that have been invested thus far in the search for a solution, quantum error correction remains elusive and still appears to be many years away. Until full error correction becomes available, IBM is researching other error management solutions.

Quantum error management

The above IBM chart compares the exponential scaling of error-mitigated quantum circuits to the exponential scaling of classical computers. The crossover point is where quantum error mitigation becomes competitive with classical solutions.

IBM has a long history of error correction research, beginning with David DiVincenzo’s investigations in 1996. In 2015, it developed the first system to detect quantum bit flip and phase flip errors. Today, almost every corporate and academic quantum computing program has some form of error correction research in progress because of the importance of quantum error correction.

IBM currently looks at quantum error management through the lens of three methods: error suppression, error mitigation, and error correction. Setting aside error correction for the moment, let’s consider the other two approaches.

Error suppression is one of the earliest and most basic methods of handling errors. It typically modifies a circuit, uses pulses of energy to keep a qubit in its quantum state longer, or directs pulses at idle qubits to undo any unwanted effects caused by neighboring qubits. These types of error suppression are known as dynamic decoupling.

Error mitigation is the method that IBM believes will bridge the gap between today’s error-prone hardware and tomorrow’s fault-tolerant quantum computers. Error mitigation’s interim purpose is to enable early achievement of quantum advantage.

IBM has done more continuous error mitigation research than any other institution. Through that work, IBM has developed multiple approaches to error mitigation, including probabilistic error cancellation (PEC) and zero-noise extrapolation (ZNE).

  • PEC functions much like noise-canceling headsets where noise is extracted and analyzed, then inverted before being mixed with the original noise signal to cancel it out. One significant difference for PEC is that, rather than using single samples as in audio noise-canceling algorithms, PEC uses averages calculated from a collection of circuits.
  • ZNE reduces noise in a quantum circuit by running the quantum program at different noise levels, then extrapolating the computation to determine an estimated value at a zero-noise level.

Effective quantum error correction would eliminate almost all noise-related errors. It is worth noting that QEC exponentially suppresses errors with increasing code size. At any finite code size, errors will always be present. For optimum results, it will be important to pick a code size that suppresses errors just enough for the target application.

But until QEC becomes available, it appears that quantum error mitigation provides the fastest path to quantum advantage.

Dialable error reduction

IBM recently announced the integration of error suppression and error mitigation into Qiskit Runtime primitives Sampler and Estimator. As beta features, these allow a user to trade speed for fewer errors. IBM's roadmap projects the final release of these features in 2025.

There is overhead associated with compiling, executing, and classical post-processing of error mitigation techniques. The amount of overhead varies depending on the type of error mitigation used. IBM introduced a new simplified option for the primitives called a “resilience level” that allows users to dial in the cost/accuracy tradeoff needed for their work. Sampler and Estimator will automatically apply dynamical decoupling error suppression to circuits at optimization levels 1 through 3. Resilience 0 offers no error mitigation, Resilience 1 is measurement error mitigation, Resilience 2 provides biased error mitigation (via ZNE), and Resilience 3 enables unbiased estimators (via PEC).

Error mitigation will be available on all cloud-accessible IBM systems. As the resilience number increases, so does the cost. Resilience 3 produces the fewest errors but could require 100,000X more computation time.

Dr. Blake Johnson, IBM Quantum Platform Lead, explained the rationale for IBM’s implementation of this option for error mitigation services.

“We have some very advanced users that want to do everything themselves,” Dr. Johnson said. “They don't want us touching their circuits. That’s fine with us, so we make that possible. But we are seeing more and more users who look at a quantum computer like you would look at a toaster. They don’t understand how it works. They just want to push a button and make the right thing happen. So, we decided to enable certain things as defaults if it doesn’t have a sampling overhead and if there isn’t an additional cost to run it.”

Quantum error correction

Thanks to error correction research conducted by the entire quantum computing community, significant progress has been made on QEC over the past decade. Even so, it is likely that years of more research will be required to find a workable solution.

One of the early challenges of quantum error correction was determining if an error had been made without destroying a qubit's quantum state by measuring it. In 1995, Peter Shor developed a breakthrough solution to circumvent the problem. Rather than storing the quantum state in a single qubit, Shor’s system encoded quantum information in a logical qubit distributed across nine physical qubits. The scheme enabled errors to be detected by monitoring the system's parity rather than destroying the quantum state with direct measurements.

IBM is currently investigating many approaches to quantum error correction, including some similar to Shor’s code. This class of error correction code is called quantum Low-Density Parity Check (qLDPC). LDPC is not new. It is used in many classical error correction applications, such as Wi-Fi and 5G.

According to IBM, qLDPC offers the following advantages:

  • Only a few physical qubits are needed for each logical qubit, rather than the hundreds that are needed for 2-D surface code.
  • Only a limited number of qubits are exposed if a faulty operation occurs.

The research opportunities and diverse methods for quantum error correction are too numerous to cover here, but having many options is a good problem to have. If a fault-tolerant quantum computer is ever to be realized, we must find a solution for error correction, and the more options we have, the better our chances.

IBM’s quantum roadmap reflects the complexity of the problem. It shows an error correction solution becoming available sometime beyond 2026. Indeed, it will likely take several years beyond that.

Wrapping up

As quantum hardware continues to improve, there is a high probability that quantum error mitigation, as implemented by IBM's roadmap, will facilitate the early achievement of quantum advantage. Presently, error mitigation has an exponential runtime influenced by how many qubits are needed and the circuit depth. But improvements in speed, qubit fidelity, and error mitigation methods are expected to considerably reduce that overhead.

It is IBM's goal for error mitigation to provide a continuous development path to error-correction. Once QEC is attained, it will enable us to build fault-tolerant quantum machines running millions of qubits in a quantum-centric supercomputing environment. These machines will have the ability to simulate large many-body systems, optimize complex supply chain logistics, create new drugs and materials, model and react to sophisticated financial market behavior, and much more.

Fault-tolerant quantum computers will signal that a new era of quantum-centric scientific investigation has arrived. And with that new capability will come the potential to responsibly change the world.

Analyst notes

  1. Despite media hype about the power of quantum computers, it has yet to be demonstrated that quantum has a clear computational superiority over classical supercomputers.
  2. Quantinuum recently published two important QEC proofs-of-concept. Its researchers developed a logical entangling circuit with higher fidelity than its physical counterparts. Researchers also entangled two logical qubit gates in a fully fault-tolerant manner.
  3. IBM announced that dynamic circuits will also be available its systems along with error mitigation. Dynamic circuits are expected to play an important role in quantum Low-Density Parity Check (qLDPC) error correction codes.
  4. In preparation for quantum advantage, IBM began scaling up its processors with the recently announced 433 Osprey qubit processor. The Osprey has 3X more qubits than the current 127-qubit Eagle processor.
  5. In addition to IBM’s error suppression and error mitigation initiatives, these are the major highlights in IBM's quantum roadmap that provide a path to quantum advantage:
  • 2023 — Further scaling occurs with the release of the Condor processor, with 1121 qubits. Work also continues on initiatives to Strengthen system-wide speed and quality.
  • 2024 — IBM will begin to integrate and test key technologies that enable future scaling such as classical parallelization, couplers, multi-chip quantum processors, and quantum parallelization.
  • 2025 — Implementation of modular quantum hardware, new control electronics, and cryogenic infrastructure are the final near-term hardware pieces needed for attaining quantum advantage.
  • 2026 — IBM will have the capability of scaling up future systems to 10K–100K qubits. By then, it should also have significantly increased the system speed and quality. A mature implementation of quantum error mitigation will make it possible to attain quantum advantage. Significant advances in quantum error correction will also have been made.

Follow Paul Smith-Goodson on Twitter for current information and insights about Quantum, AI, Electromagnetics, and Space

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Moor Insights & Strategy founder, CEO, and Chief Analyst Patrick Moorhead is an investor in dMY Technology Group Inc. VI, Dreamium Labs, Groq, Luminar Technologies, MemryX, and Movand

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

Wed, 07 Dec 2022 03:21:00 -0600 Paul Smith-Goodson en text/html
Killexams : NVIDIA and Cisco turbocharge VDI solutions like never before

This content was produced in partnership with Cisco.

With so many working from home these days, it’s important to have an infrastructure in place that allows for the seamless transition between remote and office locations. One way to solve this is to pull all of the data and applications that are resident on a person’s laptop and have the data instead be resident on a system architecture within the customer’s data center. That enables the centralized management of applications, data, and system backups. Patches and updates to the apps can then be prioritized. So, VDI provides the ability for a laptop or home computer to be able to access the required data and applications within a consistent user interface. An additional benefit is that if the company laptop is stolen, a new one can be sent to the employee and they can access their virtual desktop and be productive immediately. A smart way to approach the datacenter infrastructure for VDI is to leverage cloud computing — more specifically Cisco’s future-ready UCS X-Series Modular Systems, for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure.

Cisco’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions for X-Series provides a remarkably flexible, scalable, and capable provisioning and management tool for an organization or business that needs it. But here’s the most important point: It’s not just for work-from-home situations. The technology offers a widespread and scalable rollout for just about any form of implementation for any industry. IT organizations benefit from all of the technology X-Series has to offer, including high server performance, 100G networking, Nvidia GPU support on both the server compute node and via a dedicated node, comprehensive management tools, within fully scalable chassis. And since it’s future-ready and modular, upgrades and streamlined performance are always accessible — you don’t have to worry about upgrading all of your hardware to keep up with performance and software improvements.

Let’s take a closer look at what Cisco’s VDI infrastructure truly has to offer, and how NVIDIA’s latest and greatest solutions plays a role.

Learn More

Keeping it simple, virtually and otherwise

Cisco VDI technology enabling work from anywhere for collaboration.

There is a wide range of job roles across a number of vertical markets that VDI can address. One type of user is called the “Power User,” and it’s a job role where they work with applications that generate very complex renderings. The work requires greater amounts of memory and Intel CPU processing cycles to complete, which impacts the overall system performance — thus they are a high-power user. One way to ease power burdens is to add NVIDIA GPUs to the configuration. A Graphical Processor Unit (GPU) can perform the application renderings, removing the burden from the CPU inside the server. Of course, this offers many benefits to performance and the user experience.

Cisco’s technology delivers a future-ready infrastructure prepared for just about anything, with a remarkably simple operating model — organizations benefit from simple configuration, easy deployment and implementation, managed from Cisco Intersight.The result is an ideal platform on which leading VDI “broker” solutions from Citrix and VMWare can be deployed. With Cisco’s solutions, customers can roll out highly-advanced systems and architecture easier than ever.

Some of the advantages include:

  • Service performance and availability
  • Operational profitability
  • Workforce productivity
  • Reduced CapEx and OpEx through centralized upgrades
  • Cloud managed and updated security
  • “Future-Ready” hardware with Cisco UCS X-Series

It’s a great platform for any company that wants centrally managed infrastructure, with less hassle and improved uptimes. But also it’s highly scalable, ideal for IT services, with higher profitability and performance than most local solutions. Organizations can swap over pretty easily, netting significant cost savings via server consolidation, power savings, and potentially application license savings, but without sacrificing the power and performance they’ve come to expect.

How do the employees benefit? They can work from any location, on any endpoint, and at any time without losing access to the tools they need most — and better yet, without anyone having to manage several forms of hardware, various versions of applications, patch management, and all of the IT overhead associated with it.

The key to ‘future-proof’ is flexibility and scalability

Cisco VDI all endpoints access on the road.

Referring to a future-proof solution, the primary focus is the hardware behind the scenes, and in Cisco’s systems, that’s governed by the X-Series architecture. Yes, as time goes on and more powerful hardware is needed, newer compute nodes can easily be added to the X-Series chassis, all managed by Cisco’s cloud-based systems management tool, Cisco Intersight. The Cisco VDI technology, utilizing either Citrix or VMware Horizon, allows for more workloads with higher demands, albeit now using more-efficient hardware. As opposed to traditional rack-mounted servers, with UCS all that power is still delivered through a smaller and more manageable form factor. It’s more convenient overall and uses a single multifunctional management tool for administrators and IT.

Cisco claims the UCS X-Series “rethinks what a server can and should be.” It’s adaptable, expandable, and remarkably efficient — by deploying these systems, businesses save time on IT and digital operations. IT teams have had to completely reimagine their operating models to match the new remote and hybrid workforces. Even with teams returning to the office, the same concerns are going to persist, particularly when it comes to security and dynamic endpoint management. Yet with VDI solutions, it doesn’t matter whether you’re managing 500 users to 5,000, or where they’re connecting and working from — home, office, or a remote location — instant access and flexibility are always there.

Where does NVIDIA fit in?

Cisco and NVIDIA logos on blank background.

At the heart of those UCS X-Series systems for accelerated VDI are NVIDIA’s powerful GPUs and software, and not just for graphics-intensive capabilities either. Breakthroughs in AI, data analytics, IT and managed services, accelerated computing, and beyond are all being supported and driven by NVIDIA and Cisco’s technologies. The NVIDIA A16 and A40 are ideal fits to support the vast majority of power user requirements while the NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPU, for example, complements AI infrastructure and makes a huge performance difference for Cisco customers.

Server-side, the hardware works together to provide unprecedented performance and experiences to users, who are connecting from all over the world. GPU-accelerated virtual desktop solutions elevate the user experience in many ways. Yes, the performance is enhanced, but the related systems are capable of much more than your average desktop solution. Graphic and visual design, game development, software development, AI processing, 3D rendering of any kind — all of these activities benefit from NVIDIA GPUs. Distributed workers get the power they need for any task, and they don’t have to upgrade a single thing — it’s accessible from any endpoint whether that’s a work laptop, desktop at the office, or another remote platform entirely.

Turbocharge your data solutions

Cisco VDI technology and NVIDIA for SMBs at the register.

It’s not any one environment that’s going to be the major driver of cloud computing adoption. Just as IT organizations and workers adapted to a sudden shift to hybrid work circumstances a couple of years ago, it’s going to happen again with many returning to offices and IT relocating workloads by moving from the cloud back to on-premise deployments in the data center. It doesn’t make sense to manage the necessary hardware on traditional platforms with old methods, especially when data centers are maintained in-house. A more cost-effective, flexible, and, frankly, a better-performing solution is to offset the technology, by implementing Cisco’s VDI platform(s). It empowers the same paradigms as a BYOD environment, albeit with much safer and better-maintained solutions behind the scenes.

Some real world uses are:

  • Managing centrally-accessed virtual desktops that are delivered to end users on their choice of endpoints — they choose where and how to connect.
  • High-performance, storage-intensive virtual desktops that require optimal performance, like in graphic design and development.
  • Efficiently provisioned and seamless application use, across workstations, with the proper software updates and security patches, remotely deployed.
  • Super-flexible computer, storage, and networking scaling with dynamic workload requirements — more power can be accessed near-instantly if needed.
  • Access to next-generation hardware without any major in-house upgrades, but also fully accessible from any device, at any location.
  • Unlocking instant access to a centrally and fully managed data solution without adapting, installing, or upgrading any on-site hardware.

In a world where infinitely more power and performance are required, and where there’s a continued demand by the average workforce, it makes sense to roll out a centrally managed solution like Cisco’s VDI technology. Why handle everything on your own when you get the full support of industry experts, with the hardware and resources to back it all up?

NVIDIA and Cisco are collaborating to deliver precisely this, in virtual desktop and cloud technologies that truly transform the end user experience. If you have any lingering questions, and as with most things, the best way to understand is to experience it for yourself, or rather experience it with the rest of your team(s).

Learn More

Editors' Recommendations

Fri, 04 Nov 2022 05:00:00 -0500 Briley Kenney en text/html
Killexams : AWS Firewall Manager null © Amazon null

Developed by one of the biggest technological companies in the world, Amazon, the AWS Firewall Manager is a web application firewall that protects users against common web exploits and bots, and it does that by configuring and managing web application firewall rules for all users in an organization. 

The FW enables users to monitor their web requests and block or allow requests based on specified conditions. The requests are then forwarded to Amazon CloudFront distributions or an Application Load Balancer to protect users' applications, whether they are operating on the cloud or on location.

The solution significantly simplifies the firewall configuration by integrating with Managed Rules for AWS WAF without any complications, which allows for fast adoption of preconfigured AWS rules. Users also get the ability to filter traffic by custom rules and automation and actively monitor for threats.

The official site is presented in an uninspiring way, often cluttered with textual information that is not very useful for someone who wants to quickly get familiar with the product. 

Users can visit the resource page to get additional information about the product and check out the AWS glossary, training library, case studies, and whitepapers.

Plans and pricing

AWS Firewall Manager supports six types of protection policies: AWS WAF, AWS Shield, Amazon VPC security groups, AWS Network Firewall, Amazon Route 53 Resolver DNS Firewall, and Palo Alto Cloud Next-generation firewalls. AWS Firewall Manager protection policies are priced with a monthly fee per region.

Each of the supported protection policies costs $100.00 per policy per region with a monthly billing cycle except AWS shield, which is free and comes included with other policies. In other words, the final price will depend on the organization's needs, the number of users and devices, and the region where the user is located.

Notably, the official site presents various billing scenarios for every protection policy so users can get acquainted with the billing method used by AWS. Furthermore, the site also offers a pricing calculator where users can easily calculate their monthly costs with AWS or opt out to contact the AWS specialists directly and get a personalized quote.

The supported payment methods include all of the major credit/debit cards.

Features and Functionality

AWS Firewall Manager is a network security management tool whose goal is to centrally configure and simplify firewall rules across all accounts and applications, ensure compliance with mandatory rules, and enable rapid response to network attacks.

The solution provides the flexibility of a single deployment to manage security policies across all apps, accounts, and resources by allowing for global rules. Moreover, it supports hierarchical rules, enabling system administrators to create and deploy organization-wide rules while at the same time allowing for specific user or application rules. 

The FW Manager automatically monitors for new resources (like ALB or CloudFront) and accounts across the entire network and notifies the administrator about the discovery. The admin can then choose to apply the existing rules or develop a new set of rules and apply them to the latest resources. This can be handy when the user has to adhere to specific government regulations or if they want to block traffic from certain countries.

Another useful feature is the ability to deploy pre-configured rules from the AWS Marketplace to your network. These pre-configured rules are constantly created, monitored, and updated by the most popular vendors like Trustwave, Alert Logic, Fortinet, etc.

Compared to other firewall managers, the AWS Firewall Manager lacks some advanced features, such as automatic threat response and neutralization, compliance reporting, and network modeling features.

Interface and ease of use

Since AWS Firewall Manager does not require users to install any additional software on their operating system (OS), they can use any browser to operate the firewall. However, there are some prerequisites to using the firewall manager: you have to enable AWS Organizations Full Features, enable AWS Config Recorder in all accounts, and designate an account as Firewall Manager Admin.

If you have used any of Amazon's network products before, you will be familiar with the layout and design of the firewall manager interface and dashboard. The interface utilizes a simple design with a list of tabs on the left side of the screen where users can see all available features. 

The advantage of this type of design is that it allows for rapid response to internet attacks. It does that by giving administrators a single, simple-to-use console to monitor real-time threats and respond to them in no time.

By clicking on the feature Marketplace on the left side menu, users can access the marketplace product subscription, where they can see the available products and choose to subscribe and implement specific rules to their network. Furthermore, when creating a new policy for the network, users can automatically apply any rule they are subscribed for.

Customer support

AWS Support offers four support plans customers can choose from depending on their needs. 

The first and most basic support plan is the Developer Support used for testing or early development on AWS. Here users receive support during business hours and general architectural guidance as they test the product. 

Business Support for users who want 24/7 access to engineer technical support, access to Health API, and contextual architectural guidance for their use cases. This type of support is best for users running production workloads on AWS.

Enterprise On-Ramp is somewhat similar to the previous support plan. Its users will receive access to 24/7 engineer technical support, Health API and architectural guidance, and a pool of Technical Account Managers (TAMs) to coordinate access to AWS subject matter experts

The final support plan is Enterprise Support, best for users who want  24/7 access to technical support from high-quality engineers, tools, and technology to automatically manage the health of their environment, architectural guidance, and a designated TAM to coordinate access to proactive/preventative programs.

All paid AWS Support plans are billed monthly, with no long-term contracts. Monthly fees for the Developer, Business, Enterprise On-Ramp, and Enterprise Support plans are calculated based on each month's gross AWS charges.

Users can also access the Knowledge Center, a FAQ section on common issues, for additional answers.


Cisco Secure Firewall is an intrusion detection management system combining firewall and antivirus capabilities. It encompasses a next-generation intrusion prevention system, security tasks automation, and rapid threat containment where users can proactively mitigate risks. Cisco firewall is designed to be used in companies with multiple networking platforms by providing complete control over data and bandwidth distribution.

Similarly, Palo Alto Panorama is a capable network management tool that will provide customers with a comprehensive overview of the entire network security, generated traffic, used applications, and potential risks. It significantly simplifies the network configuration and management process, although for a higher price than AWS. 

Another alternative is FireMon, which offers a comprehensive suite of security management tools that provide complete network security control, help identify vulnerabilities, and help monitor and optimize policies. The software also offers high scalability which includes the ability to add additional servers after deployment. However, it’s a complex process that requires some technical know-how.

Final verdict

AWS Firewall Manager will begin to shine once you’re in a situation requiring managing multi-account resource groups. The solution achieves this by allowing the grouping of resources by account, resource types, or assigned tags. While it considerably simplifies the network configuration process, it lacks some advanced options that the competition offers.

Wed, 07 Dec 2022 19:44:21 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : New technology critical to net zero targets, report says

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Mon, 21 Nov 2022 12:37:00 -0600 John Thompson en-US text/html
Killexams : CrowdStrike: Time To Pick Up The Pieces After This Share Price Implosion
Crowdstrike headquarters in Silicon Valley

Sundry Photography

CrowdStrike: A less emotional reaction to a “messy” quarter

CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) reported its earnings a little more than a week ago. While the earnings themselves were more than satisfactory, the guidance was judged wanting, the company's calculated bookings were below expectations, and net new ARR was less than expected. The result of all of that was that the shares plunged 14% on the day after the earnings release. Was the guidance that bad? Objectively, and in context, not really. Does the current outlook mean that estimates of the company’s likely 3-year CAGR should be reduced? No, not at all. Is CrowdStrike losing its competitive position? The opposite is true. Is the company’s sales execution machine sputtering and in need of retooling? There is no evidence of that. And is endpoint security no longer a priority amongst IT users? Hard to imagine.

CrowdStrike shares have been viewed as a safe haven investment by investors. Prior to the earnings release, the shares, while still down more than 30% over the past year, had outperformed most other IT equities. Now with the shares having fallen by 41% in the last 12 months, the relative share price performance advantage is gone. While it is always difficult to explain share price movements, even in retrospect, I believe that the shock of seeing the company reduce its revenue forecast, for whatever reason, and by however much, and within whatever context, obviously caused traders, as opposed to investors, to sell the shares, somewhat indiscriminately. And that is where I come in. Just in terms of context, I own a fairly sizeable position in CRWD shares and have done so for some time now-almost 4 years. I sold some shares a couple of years ago when they spiked and will now be buying back the shares I sold.

There will be many readers and some commentators at this point who will be thinking and writing that CrowdStrike’s outlook and its valuation is simply approaching “normal” levels and that it is no bargain at this point. And there will be other readers who focus on the company’s share-based compensation (SBC) expense which was 23% of revenue through 9 months, compared to 21% of revenues in the year earlier period. In the quarter SBC expense was $140 million, up by 7% sequentially while revenues rose by 8% sequentially, so just a glimmering of relief in terms of the SBC expense ratio so far.

I have stated on many occasions that the SBC percentage has never been and is currently not correlated with valuation. In the years in which I worked as essentially a consultant to institutional investors, after the FASB mandated the release of GAAP earnings, not a single client ever expressed to me any specific concern about SBC. I don’t pretend I know all or even a preponderance of institutions who invest in high growth IT names, and how they regard SBC at this point; I have and will continue to look at SBC only as it creates dilution. In the case of CrowdStrike specifically, weighted average shares increased by 1.1 million sequentially to 233.8 million, or 0.5% as reported. To account for the potential conversion of CrowdStrike’s convertible debt, I use 245 million weighted shares, 2% above company guidance to account for dilution over the next 12 months in all of the valuation calculations I make.

That said, if SBC is a focus of a reader, then it is unlikely that my poor words will persuade those focused on that metric to consider the shares, either now or the future.

Should investors buy CrowdStrike shares now? One of the best informed analysts in the space, Alex Henderson of Needham, says the shares are in the penalty box through the end of the year. That is probably not the bravest call in the world with the end of the year just 25 days away, and encompass the dead period from just before Christmas to New Years. One analyst was a little braver; the analyst at Daiwa Capital Markets raised his rating to Buy from Outperform. On the other hand, the analyst at Wolfe Research, chose to recently lower his rating from Outperform to Peer Perform, while the analyst at Stifel also lowered his rating on the shares.

CrowdStrike shares, in my opinion represent an excellent value to investors who are able to look through the current turbulence both in the investing environment and in through the macro headwinds. The shares are not going to have the kind of appreciation I think warranted until the risk-off focus of the market wanes. The shares, as I write this on 12/6, are still reacting to the rating changes indicated above and are close to their 52-week low, providing an even greater opportunity to investors. I will discuss valuation specifically later in this article; suffice to say at this point, that from a level that in hindsight looks lofty, the shares are now at a significant discount to average IT shares, particularly when considering the combination of growth and free cash flow.

This is not the place to comment about last week's jobs report or the spike in monthly hourly compensation expense, or the outlier report of ISM Services. The new record for yield inversion seen as I write this suggests that investors in Treasuries do not believe that the ISM Services number is real, or representative of demand trends. Interestingly, there is another Services Index developed by S&P and called Markit, which purportedly measures the same kinds of data as that of the ISM Index. It is showing a studying indicating contraction. The ISM services index itself, did show the growth of new orders decreasing.

Personally, having listened to 8 or 9 conference calls in the last several days, I find it difficult to accept that economic activity is not contracting. It is what almost all software companies of any size or shape are telling listeners-specifically that their customers are telling them that they see demand for their own products and services contracting. Of course, even within the ISM Services, information technology demand showed a contraction trend. A friend of mine shared the linked article from the WSJ. CrowdStrike shares, in my mind, are one of those opportunities that are outlined in the linked article.

I usually don’t write an article on SA focusing on 1 quarter and on just a revised outlook. To reiterate, in my view, CrowdStrike shares, or shares of many other IT names I have recommended, are unlikely to sustain a material rally until markets become less toxic to what are deemed risk-on trades. I have recognized that for some months now, and have, perhaps bemoaned that tendency more than some, although, perhaps with less fervor than Cathy Wood.

But in this case, I think a focus on the immediate is warranted. I think investors who ignore context, regardless of what that context is, are ignoring how companies really operate. CrowdStrike lives in the real world, along with Snowflake (SNOW), Elastic (ESTC), Okta (OKTA), Zscaler (ZS) and just about all other IT vendors. The perceptions that have now arisen regarding its outlook have presented a specific buying opportunity that has perhaps been lacking as investors had been concerned about the valuation of CrowdStrike specifically-along with many other high growth IT equities. I am taking advantage of it.

I confess to being somewhat surprised to hear that larger organizations are currently ignoring the threat environment and are escalating decision making approvals and delaying needed contract sign-offs. It is probably not the most logical response to macro headwinds given the existential risks both in terms of actual losses and compliance issues that a cyber breach can create. I wonder just how long it might be before some well publicized breaches reverse this trend and cause boards to instruct operating executives to spare cyber security in terms of budget cutting. And as I will explain, CrowdStrike’s solutions can allow large organizations to do more with less through vendor consolidation.

While the quarter reported at a headline level was not disappointing, there is no getting around that two of the company’s sales performance metrics were weaker than expected and caused the company to adjust forward expectations with regards to revenue growth. On the other hand, these conditions are based on macro headwinds and not long-term sales execution or competitive challenges. Further, I don’t think it is reasonable or logical to use the current demand picture as a reason to believe that the growth prospects for end-point security has waned or will wane. In addition, these negative sales metrics come in the midst of strong gains in margins and free cash flow generation. I think CrowdStrike shares will turn out to be one of the better performers of 2023.

Just what did CrowdStrike report and what was the guidance that upset investors?

The quarter that CrowdStrike actually reported was a strong one albeit with a couple of caveats. Revenues rose by 53% to $581 million. The company had forecast that revenues would be about $572 million. That 1.5% beat is about half or less the average beat the company has reported going back several years. The company’s non-GAAP operating margin was 17.5% which compares to a forecast level of 13%. The company's non-GAAP gross margins fell slightly year on year, as the proportion of revenue coming from the company's largest customers, who get better deals, continued to increase. The net result of the revenue beat and the higher margins was that EPS for the quarter reached $0.40, more than double the level in the year earlier level and a beat of 25% compared to the prior consensus level of $0.32.

The company’s free cash flow margin in the quarter was 30%. I usually prefer to look at cashflow for a longer period than just a single quarter; through 9 months the operating cash flow rose by 61%. The 9-month free cash flow margin was 30%, constrained a bit by a substantial increase in capex which more than doubled year on year.

The companies DBE ratio, i.e. its net expansion rate, was above the company’s benchmark and churn was also at record low levels. There were some other positives that were overlooked or not considered in the rush to judgement regarding the valuation of the shares. One new product that is apparently gaining substantial traction is the company’s Identity Protection solution. Net new ARR for Identity Protection grew to a new all-time high and it is being attached at increasing rates to net new logos.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on SentinelOne (S). At that time, I observed that one likely factor in that company’s hyper-growth was its #1 ranking on several MITRE cyber security testing reports. That appears to have changed to some extent; in the latest MITRE cyber-security testing result, CRWD was said to deliver the highest coverage.

The significant advantages of CrowdStrike's Falcon Complete offering were showcased in the first MITRE ATT&CK evaluation for security service providers. Out of 16 participants evaluating, the Falcon platform's integration of industry-leading technology and human expertise enable us to deliver the highest coverage. This was MITRE's first closed door test, which means the participants did not have prior knowledge of the adversary, and retesting was not allowed.

We believe this evaluation demonstrates why CrowdStrike is the clear leader in EDR and XDR, whether our capabilities are delivered as a fully managed service from CrowdStrike or through our network of MSSP partners or operated independently by our customers.

The Falcon platform also won the SE Labs EDR ransomware detection and protection test. This well-regarded third-party testing firm involved 270 ransomware variations and deep attack tactics. Falcon achieved 100% ransomware prevention with zero false positives.

I am certainly not purporting to be an expert in either evaluating or procuring endpoint solution technology. I do think that these two studies certainly suggest that CrowdStrike has a reasonable case to make in being a technology leader as well as a market leader. Endpoint security is a large market that is expected to double over the next 7-8 years; much of CrowdStrike’s growth, and that of SentinelOne comes from replacing legacy solutions from vendors such as Symantec/Broadcom (AVGO), FireEye, Cisco (CSCO) and other point solutions. Much of CrowdStrike’s growth is coming as the company moves into adjacencies such as Identity Management, Spotlight and LogScale modules.

So, what’s the dark side?

CrowdStrike runs its business based on net new ARR/Annual recurring revenue. It is, in my opinion, the best way the subscription companies have to measure their sales performance. Obviously, net new ARR gets translated into revenue, although of course the correlation is not one for one and usually lags by about 1 quarter. Last quarter, net new ARR was $197 million. While that is up by 16% from the level in the year earlier period, it was about 11%, or $25 million below the company’s target. The shortfall was a product of two trends. The company’s SMB customer cohort, as has been the case for many IT vendors, delayed purchases, and the company CEO, George Kurtz, said that the company’s days to close metric for SMB customers increased by 11% sequentially. This caused net new ARR to fall by $15 million from the prior quarter. The lengthening sales cycles for SMB customers resulted in a noticeable drop in new customers from 1741 last quarter to 1460 this quarter.

The other factor that led to about $10 million in diminished ARR growth last quarter related to the timing of new contract commitments from enterprise customers. Apparently, some enterprises, while signing contractual commitments with CrowdStrike, have delayed their subscription start dates, and thus the recognition of net new ARR, and of course CrowdStrike revenues into future periods. That said, CrowdStrike indicated that the cadence of enterprise deal closures remained consistent, more or less between Q2 and Q3.

Will this pattern of purchasing continue? The company’s guidance is predicated on continued issues in the timing of deals with SMBs and the start dates of large deals with enterprises. One might, I think, pardonably question the logic of those choices on the part of customers; it takes just a single intrusion/hack to pay for thousands of endpoint security bundles from CrowdStrike which these days cost $59.99/user/year.

Obviously, CrowdStrike for enterprise customers can be a significant commitment. Indeed most of the company’s revenue comes from enterprise users who spend more than $1 million/year on CrowdStrike services and software. But with the cost of breaches often running into millions and tens of millions, delaying cyber security implementation seems hard to justify. Just the unquantifiable risks of being hacked would seemingly be worth prioritizing endpoint security spend.

But clearly, that just hasn’t been the case, and that is true for analog companies in the space such as Zscaler and even companies such as Palo Alto (PANW) which reported relatively strong results. The company is now expecting an absence of any or most budget flush despite entering the quarter with a record pipeline. It is expecting elongated sales cycles due to macro concerns to persist, at least for its SMB customers. At this point, the company is projecting that net new ARR will decline by as much as 10% sequentially, which would put it at about $180 million, or as much as 17% below the year earlier level of net new ARR.

With that level of net new ARR, the company is projecting that revenue growth this current quarter will be around $626 million, or growth of about 45%. The prior revenue growth expectation had been around $634 million. Should a 2% reduction in revenue growth expectations caused a 14%+ share price implosion? Given just how much the shares were already reflecting such an expectation, this further leg down seems...well less than logical.

At this point, and perhaps in abundance of caution, the company forecast that the net new ARR would continue to fall in the first half of the coming fiscal year, before starting to Strengthen in 2H and winding up either flat or up modestly year over year. Net new ARR at that level would, in turn, lead to revenue growth for all of FY’2024 in the low mid-30% range next year. Prior to the earnings release, the published consensus revenue growth forecast had been 37%, although it seems likely that many investors/analysts were actually looking for growth of more than that.

The other side of the company’s forecast is that it now expects non-GAAP EPS of around $.43 for the current quarter, up by 1/3rd from prior expectations. Almost all analysts have also raised their EPS expectations for FY 2024 earnings; given management commentary with regards to growth and margin expansion, the FY 2024 EPS consensus of $1.99 is less than the conservative guidance actually provided by CrowdStrike during the course of its conference call. The company is talking about a substantial reduction in new hiring, as well as some other cost remediation steps; it seems likely, therefore that operating margins will rise by at least 200 bps which should therefore drive EPS growth to levels greater than the new consensus. Further, the company is forecasting that its free cashflow margin will continue to rise to 30% or more, above previously forecast levels.

Some thoughts about competition

I am not going to do the kind of deep dive I frequently do for articles I publish on SA. When I reviewed SentinelOne a few weeks ago, I commented that for the most part, modern endpoint security solutions were a 2 horse race between that company and CrowdStrike. There are numerous other companies in the space; it has been around a long time, but the technology now used to detect anomalies is radically different compared to what had previously been available. In terms of market share, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Defender product is actually a close second to CrowdStrike, but Defender has had its share of technology challenges. Defender is cheap, and is popular in the SMB space, but it doesn’t seem to do well when it comes to enterprise customers or for customers outside of the Microsoft ecosystem.

During this latest conference call, CrowdStrike’s CEO said the company had seen improving win rates. Of course I have yet to hear of a company saying that their win rates were deteriorating no matter what the evidence might be. In this case, however, my own anecdotal checks suggest that win rates, particularly at the enterprise level, are probably increasing within a difficult environment. The basic reason for CrowdStrike’s increasing win rates, at least so far as I can determine, is cost. Not first cost, per se, as CrowdStrike tends to be more expensive than its competitors. But the ability of CrowdStrike to eliminate point products, and in particular to eliminate personnel who are typically required in monitoring and analyzing anomalies when they are detected in a network is a major selling point in this environment. Further, the ability of the CrowdStrike algorithms to eliminate false positives is part of the story of total cost of ownership story.

I am not going to make, or try to make the case that CrowdStrike has “better” solutions than SentinelOne however better might be defined. I do think, nonetheless, that its competitive position is a strength and not a weakness, and its ability to grow is not being hampered by competitive problems with S or with the many other smaller and larger vendors in the space. The link above with regards to a comparison between Defender and CrowdStrike provides a pretty straightforward commentary that CrowdStrike is offering better functionality, and is a preferred vendor, at least for users who do not have a Microsoft heavy tech stack.


No, CrowdStrike shares are not the deep value that some readers of SA seek. After revising my outlook to take account of the new company forecast for revenue growth, my calculation of the forward EV/S is a bit more than 9X. That is above average for the company’s growth cohort. But with the company forecast for rising free cash flow margin, the combination of free cash flow + growth shows the shares at about a 25% discount from average valuation. And my calculation of the company’s DCF valuation is 93% greater than the current share price, using the company’s free cash flow projection for its FY ’24 year, with fairly consistent growth thereafter and a 8.5% weighted average cost of capital which is based on the Finbox metric. While that 93% appreciation potential may seem hard to believe at this point, it really shows how divergent valuations have become from valuations based on growth and growth of free cash flow. Sentiment is still exceptionally negative when it comes to IT shares, and the end of the “safe haven” thesis in terms of CrowdStrike’s outlook has clearly upended the short-term supply/demand balance for the shares.

Will there be a second shoe for CrowdStrike in terms of its guidance, or is its guidance what has been called, a kitchen sink model for that metric? I don't have second sight-I think that is fairly obvious to readers at this point. But, as the CEO observed, it is difficult, if not impossible to reduce cyber security spending. And it also appears that cyber security spending is still a priority as compared to the other various categories of IT. I personally think it is a highly risky strategy for enterprises to defer spending on this category, if for no other reason than the risks and financial consequences of a breach are so significant relative to the costs of cyber security software.

CrowdStrike’s emerging products, outside of the end point security space are achieving very rapid growth, albeit from a small base. Most recently, about 11% of the revenues for the company have been coming from its emerging products area. In that area, the company has what appears to be a major opportunity in identity management which even in this environment continues to show triple digit growth. And with the recent acquisition of Humio, it now has an entry in the observability space.

At the end of the day, despite the reduced growth guidance the company provided, there is no evidence that end point security is less of a priority or has less total potential than heretofore. And what evidence there is suggests that the company’s win rates, and overall competitive positioning are actually improving. The company can demonstrate that despite having higher first costs, its total cost of ownership in most cases is lower than that of its rivals, even Microsoft which often bundles its Defender offering in with its many other solutions.

I obviously have no special insight in determining when the extreme risk off sentiment that is prevalent in investing these days will wane. It will wane, presumably when inflation expectations diminish, and in turn that is a function of how poorly the economy is performing. Trying to forecast those metrics is not something on which I want to focus, or on which I bring some special insight. With a DPV for CrowdStrike shares 93% greater than its current share price, it is obvious that investors are not focusing on either free cash flow or free cash flow growth in their current evaluations.

CrowdStrike shares are currently suffering from two exact downgrades, and are probably a target of tax loss selling as well. For investors working with a different time scale, this presents a significant opportunity - one that I am taking advantage. It isn’t that often that high quality growth assets are on sale to the extent that this one is at this point. I think there is lots of positive alpha ahead, although patience will be required.

Wed, 07 Dec 2022 14:17:00 -0600 en text/html
Killexams : Is It Time to Buy Cisco Stock?

Shares of networking hardware giant Cisco Systems (CSCO -0.98%) have trended lower this year, just like most other tech stocks. A 25% decline in the stock price has made it look cheap. Cisco reported adjusted earnings per share of $3.36 in fiscal 2022, which ended July 30, putting the price-to-earnings ratio at 14.

That's not a particularly optimistic valuation for a company that is the overwhelming leader in its core markets. Cisco held a 42.3% share of the ethernet switch market in the second quarter, more than quadruple its next-largest competitor. In the service provider and enterprise router market, Cisco captured roughly one-third of all sales.

Despite Cisco's dominance, the company is prone to big drops in demand when economic uncertainty runs high. Cisco's products are mission critical, but it's also easy for an enterprise customer to delay upgrades during tough economic conditions.

With a recession a possibility in 2023, is now the time to buy Cisco stock?

So far, so good

Looking at Cisco's latest quarterly results, the company appears to be doing just fine. Revenue rose 7% year over year to $13.6 billion in the fiscal first quarter ended Oct. 29, and adjusted EPS jumped 5% to $0.86.

Importantly, Cisco's guidance for the full year is optimistic. The company sees revenue growing by between 4.5% and 6.5%, with non-GAAP EPS solidly above fiscal 2022 levels.

Cisco's transformation into a solutions provider is making the company's results a bit more predictable. While selling hardware is still the core business, the company has grown into a recurring revenue powerhouse. Subscriptions generated $5.9 billion of revenue in the first quarter, about 43% of total revenue. Of that, software subscription revenue was $3.3 billion, while service subscription revenue totaled $2.5 billion.

Cisco's results this year will be partly driven by a big backlog of orders. The company expects to end the fiscal year with a backlog that's two to three times larger than historical levels. Supply chain constraints throughout the pandemic have held up hardware shipments, and any software subscriptions tied to that hardware also got caught up in the backlog. Cisco's software subscription revenue surged 11% in the first quarter, as some of those subscriptions got delivered, although the company still has more than $2 billion of software in its backlog.

Even if global economies enter recession next year, Cisco's enormous backlog and its trove of subscription revenue should help prop up sales for a while, even if underlying demand deteriorates.

Product orders are tumbling

While Cisco expects revenue to grow this year, it's already seeing its customers pulling back on new orders. Total product orders plunged 14% in the first quarter. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa was the worst geographic segment for Cisco, with product orders down 23%. The company pointed to sky-high energy prices in Europe as one reason for the pullback, but it noted that some of its product lines that focus on lowering energy consumption could do well in this environment.

While orders were down, this was still the second-largest order tally for the first quarter in Cisco's history. Cisco had a difficult comparison against an extremely strong quarter for orders last year.

And it wasn't all bad news: Product orders coming from U.S. enterprise customers grew slightly, partly offsetting weakness from other customer groups.

Cisco's order backlog gives it visibility into revenue over the next few quarters, but if product orders continue to deteriorate, the company will work through that backlog and once again be at the mercy of end-market demand. And if a recession does strike next year, a prolonged period of weak product orders seems likely.

Is Cisco stock a buy?

Cisco's dominant market position and inexpensive valuation make it one of the most appealing tech stocks to buy right now. However, anyone who's considering investing in Cisco needs to understand that the company's revenue and profits can be a bit volatile. An overloaded backlog is smoothing things out right now, but that can't last forever.

Be ready for a revenue and profit decline sometime next year if global economies continue to deteriorate. In the long run, Cisco is aiming to grow revenue and profit by 5% to 7% annually. But that won't happen every year. If you're a long-term investor able to stomach some temporary setbacks, Cisco is a great stock to buy.

Mon, 21 Nov 2022 16:20:00 -0600 Timothy Green en text/html
Killexams : Cisco Stock Gains on Earnings. Layoffs Are Coming.

Cisco Systems shares are trading higher after the networking-infrastructure company posted better-than-expected revenue and profit growth for its fiscal first quarter, ended Oct. 29. The company also raised its guidance for the year.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins also disclosed that the company was “right-sizing certain businesses,” reducing head count in some areas. Cisco Chief Financial Officer Scott Herren said in an interview that the cuts could affect up to 5% of the workforce. Cisco had 83,300 employees as of the end of July. Despite the planned cuts, Cisco expects to end the current fiscal year with head count about flat with the start of the year.

Wed, 16 Nov 2022 10:01:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Killexams : “Alexa, turn on the lights”; Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Cisco test virtual assistant, deep space video conferencing Killexams : "Alexa, turn on the lights"; Lockheed Martin, Amazon, Cisco test virtual assistant, deep space video conferencing - Wed, 23 Nov 2022 17:33:00 -0600 en-US text/html
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