350-901 history - Developing Applications using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR)
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Exam Code: 350-901 Developing Applications using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR) history 2023 by Killexams.com team|
350-901 Developing Applications using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR)
Certifications: Cisco Certified DevNet Professional, Cisco Certified DevNet Specialist - Core
Duration: 120 minutes
This exam tests your knowledge of software development and design, including:
- Using APIs
- Cisco platforms
- Application deployment and security
- Infrastructure and automation
The Developing Applications Using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs v1.0 (DEVCOR 350-901) exam is a 120-minute exam associated with the Cisco Certified DevNet Professional certification. This exam tests a candidate's knowledge of software development and design including using APIs, Cisco platforms, application deployment and security, and infrastructure and automation. The course, Developing Applications Using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs, helps candidates to prepare for this exam.
20% 1.0 Software Development and Design
1.1 Describe distributed applications related to the concepts of front-end, back-end, and load balancing 1.2 Evaluate an application design considering scalability and modularity 1.3 Evaluate an application design considering high-availability and resiliency (including onpremises, hybrid, and cloud)
1.4 Evaluate an application design considering latency and rate limiting
1.5 Evaluate an application design and implementation considering maintainability
1.6 Evaluate an application design and implementation considering observability
1.7 Diagnose problems with an application given logs related to an event
1.8 Evaluate choice of database types with respect to application requirements (such as relational, document, graph, columnar, and Time Series)
1.9 Explain architectural patterns (monolithic, services oriented, microservices, and event driven)
1.10 Utilize advanced version control operations with Git
1.10.a Merge a branch
1.10.b Resolve conflicts
1.10.c git reset
1.10.d git checkout
1.10.e git revert
1.11 Explain the concepts of release packaging and dependency management
1.12 Construct a sequence diagram that includes API calls
20% 2.0 Using APIs
2.1 Implement robust REST API error handling for time outs and rate limits
2.2 Implement control flow of consumer code for unrecoverable REST API errors
2.3 Identify ways to optimize API usage through HTTP cache controls
2.4 Construct an application that consumes a REST API that supports pagination
2.5 Describe the steps in the OAuth2 three-legged authorization code grant flow
20% 3.0 Cisco Platforms
3.1 Construct API requests to implement chatops with Webex Teams API
3.2 Construct API requests to create and delete objects using Firepower device management (FDM)
3.3 Construct API requests using the Meraki platform to accomplish these tasks
3.3.a Use Meraki Dashboard APIs to enable an SSID
3.3.b Use Meraki location APIs to retrieve location data
3.4 Construct API calls to retrieve data from Intersight
3.5 Construct a Python script using the UCS APIs to provision a new UCS server given a template
3.6 Construct a Python script using the Cisco DNA center APIs to retrieve and display wireless health information
3.7 Describe the capabilities of AppDynamics when instrumenting an application
3.8 Describe steps to build a custom dashboard to present data collected from Cisco APIs
20% 4.0 Application Deployment and Security
4.1 Diagnose a CI/CD pipeline failure (such as missing dependency, incompatible versions of components, and failed tests)
4.2 Integrate an application into a prebuilt CD environment leveraging Docker and Kubernetes
4.3 Describe the benefits of continuous testing and static code analysis in a CI pipeline
4.4 Utilize Docker to containerize an application
4.5 Describe the tenets of the "12-factor app"
4.6 Describe an effective logging strategy for an application
4.7 Explain data privacy concerns related to storage and transmission of data
4.8 Identify the secret storage approach relevant to a given scenario
4.9 Configure application specific SSL certificates
4.10 Implement mitigation strategies for OWASP threats (such as XSS, CSRF, and SQL injection)
4.11 Describe how end-to-end encryption principles apply to APIs
20% 5.0 Infrastructure and Automation
5.1 Explain considerations of model-driven telemetry (including data consumption and data storage)
5.2 Utilize RESTCONF to configure a network device including interfaces, static routes, and VLANs (IOS XE only)
5.3 Construct a workflow to configure network parameters with:
5.3.a Ansible playbook
5.3.b Puppet manifest
5.4 Identify a configuration management solution to achieve technical and business requirements
5.5 Describe how to host an application on a network device (including Catalyst 9000 and Cisco IOx-enabled devices)
|Developing Applications using Cisco Core Platforms and APIs (DEVCOR)|
Cisco Applications history
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With a nearly $60 billion revenue run rate, growing at 14% and throwing off more than $5 billion in operating cash last quarter, Cisco Systems Inc. has an awesome business.
But customers are vocal about the complexity of Cisco’s portfolio and, if their concerns are not addressed head on, the company risks encountering friction beyond just economic headwinds. We believe Cisco’s challenges are most decidedly not product breadth and depth. Rather, the company’s mandate is to integrate the piece parts of its intricate offerings to create more facile and seamless experiences for customers.
In this Breaking Analysis and ahead of Cisco Live in Las Vegas June 4-8, we dig deeper into Cisco’s business and double-click on three key areas of its portfolio: 1) security; 2) networking; and 3) observability. We have spending data from Enterprise Technology Research and a guest appearance from SiliconANGLE contributor and market watcher Zeus Kerravala, principal at ZK Research.
Stocks of pure-play competitors outperforming Cisco year-to-date
Let’s start by doing some stock market comparisons.
The chart above shows year-to-date comparisons among Cisco, Palo Alto Networks Inc., Arista Networks Inc., Extreme Networks Inc. and the Nasdaq Composite. As you can see, the pure plays, as well as the NAS, are outperforming Cisco by a wide margin. That’s despite Cisco’s double-digit growth last quarter, 65% growth margins and a $200 billion market cap.
The reason is Chief Executive Chuck Robbins set modest expectations for 2024, which, when modeled out relative to Cisco’s longer-term outlook, suggest slowing momentum in the near- to mid-term. In addition, we believe the breadth of Cisco’s portfolio, while a key strength, also creates adoption challenges for the company’s customers.
What follows is a summary of how Kerravala interprets this data.
Kerravala sees this as a nuanced comparison between Cisco, a behemoth with an impressive cash generation capability, and smaller companies such as Arista and Extreme. Despite acknowledging the fair comparison, he suggests a lack of completeness, emphasizing that though smaller entities may capture the benefits of a market trend more swiftly, Cisco’s broad scope often hampers its ability to do so. But Cisco throws off more operating cash in a quarter than these companies generate in annual revenue.
He used the example of Zoom Video Communications Inc. and RingCentral Inc., noting how Cisco’s performance paled in comparison two years ago, but the tide has turned since then, with the unified communications sector waning, but Cisco thriving in relative terms.
Kerravala believes Cisco’s breadth and stability make it a safe investment bet, but its size prevents it from realizing the rapid growth that smaller, more specialized companies can. The broad spectrum of markets that Cisco operates in implies a reduced likelihood of success across all these fronts simultaneously.
Watch Zeus Kerravala comment on the comparisons between Cisco and the pure plays.
Cisco’s complex business remains anchored in core networking
The table below represents the contribution of Cisco’s lines of business as reported in its financials. As we said at the top, 14% revenue growth is pretty astounding for a company of Cisco’s size. With tough comps ahead, it’s unlikely Cisco can keep up this pace.
Networking makes up more than half of Cisco’s revenue, but the company is growing its software contribution, which is just under 30% today, and its annual recurring revenue accounts for more than 40% of revenue, which gives the company better visibility on the future. This all helps prop up Cisco’s alluring 65%-plus gross margin model, which unlike many of its large incumbent competitors has held up well over decades. Moreover, Cisco’s shift to a recurring revenue and subscription model has been executed quite well compared with many firms (some much smaller, such as Splunk Inc.), which have struggled with that transition.
To break this down further, examining Cisco’s 10-K provides the following added context:
Secure, Agile Networks comprise core networking, switching, routing, wireless and compute. This includes products such as Catalyst, Nexus, Meraki and Cisco’s software-defined wide-area network products.
Internet for the Future includes optical networking, 5G, in-house silicon and optics solutions. This includes products such as the Cisco 8000, NCS 5500 and ASR 9000 series.
Collaboration includes Webex and call center solutions.
End-to-End Security comprises network security, cloud security, endpoint, threat management and zero-trust solutions.
Optimized Application Experiences includes AppDynamics, ThousandEyes and Intersight.
Here are Kerravala’s thoughts on Cisco’s portfolio, the challenges they face and what’s needed going forward:
His analysis suggests that Cisco is challenged to create interoperability and cross-platform optimization despite its wide array of excellent products. He notes that even within Cisco’s own ecosystem, products such as Webex, Meraki and Catalyst do not necessarily provide a significantly better experience on Cisco’s network than competing products. Despite its ownership of Meraki for nine years, only last year did Cisco permit customers to view Catalyst devices on the Meraki dashboard, a development credited to the unification of the two lines under General Manager Todd Nightingale. Kerravala pinpoints political dynamics, internal friction and business unit structures as contributing factors to simpler execution.
In terms of future improvements, the consolidation of mass scale, Internet for the Future, and Secure Agile Networks under John Davidson should lead to better interoperability between the telecom and enterprise sides. Although Cisco possesses a portfolio of impressive products, including Kenna, AnyConnect, Talos, Meraki and Catalyst, these do not coalesce to form a comprehensive Cisco platform story.
However, steps are being taken to address this gap, such as the announcement of the XDR solution at the recent RSA Conference, Cisco’s first cross-security solution. Kerravala posits that Cisco’s focus should be on creating a synergistic portfolio where the collective value exceeds the sum of the parts, as opposed to having to compete fiercely on a product-by-product basis.
Watch Zeus Kerravala unpack Cisco’s vast portfolio and how they can simplify.
Spending data underscores the macroeconomic impact on Cisco’s overall business
The ETR spending data for Cisco, at a high level, shows what virtually all tech companies are facing: a decrease in the percentage of customers that are spending more relative to last year.
The candlestick chart above shows the granularity of Net Score, ETR’s proprietary spending metric that measures customer spending patterns. Of the 1,700 information technology decision makers in the most recent ETR survey, more than 1,000 are Cisco customers – so we have a nice sample. The lime green is the percentage of those customers adding Cisco new, the forest green represents those spending 6% or more relative to last year, the gray is flat spend, the pink is spending down 6% or worse and the bright red is churn. Subtract red from green and you get Net Score, which is the blue line.
You can see the steadily declining trajectory because of the gray and the reds increasing. The brown line is the pervasiveness in the overall data set, which has actually held up well. Cisco has a massive installed base and it is stable, although more customers are leaving than are being added within this survey. Remember, this survey doesn’t measure spending amount, only the percentage of customers in each bucket.
We asked Kerravala if this accurately reflects his view of the market and is the deceleration a function of economic headwinds, complexity or both? What follows is a list of his key takeaways:
Watch Zeus Kerravala comment on Cisco’s spending momentum data in the ETR survey and the changing nature of the competitive dynamics.
Cisco’s center of gravity starts with core networking
Let’s drill into the segment data, starting with networks.
The chart above shows Net Score or spending velocity on the vertical axis and pervasiveness in the data set on the horizontal axis. The red dotted line at 40% indicates a highly elevated Net Score. We’ve highlighted Cisco overall and Meraki, a company Cisco bought in 2012 to help better control network devices.
As is evident, Cisco stands out as the clear leader here in both presence (X axis) with very respectable customer spending velocity on its products (Y axis). In fact, we saw earlier a 29% year-on-year revenue growth figure from last quarter in networking. That is amazing for such a large business. As Cisco works through its backlog, it creates uncertainty in the forecasts, but underlying demand for Cisco’s networking products is sound.
As well, you can see a number of other companies here, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.’s Aruba, Arista, VMware with NSX and a number of others, including Cloudflare Inc., which all are hovering near the elevated 40% line.
Kerravala laid out his thoughts as follows:
He is critical of Cisco’s approach to its Meraki and Catalyst product lines, not on the merit of their features and value but on the lines between them. He asserts that customers should not have to choose between them. He suggests a unified hardware line that offers customers the flexibility to manage it either through Meraki or the command-line interface, or CLI. Currently, a switch from Meraki to Catalyst necessitates a complete hardware overhaul, a problem that could be resolved by a common set of hardware compatible with both management methods.
Further, Kerravala notes that Cisco’s potential to integrate data center, campus and Wi-Fi certifications to Improve the user experience has yet to be fully realized. While some integration has occurred at the campus level, the data center side remains separate. He concludes that networks should deliver applications and experiences as a single, unified entity instead of being sold as separate silos, an approach that contributes to unnecessary complexity.
His key analysis points include:
Watch Zeus break down the Cisco’s networking challenges and thoughts on how it can simplify.
Security is perhaps Cisco’s best upside opportunity
Let’s shift gears and look into the all-important and exceedingly crowded security sector.
Above we show the ETR spending data in the security market – same dimensions – Net Score on Y and Pervasion on the X. Microsoft Corp. is in the upper right and skews the data, but you can see Cisco has a major presence. As do Palo Alto Networks and Splunk. All credible on the vertical axis.
The leaders in presence are below the 40% line, but that’s expected for such large companies. The squiggly line represents Cisco’s path over the past 10 quarters. There is no debate that the company is very strong in security, but we believe it needs to do a better job consolidating the piece parts and simplifying customer outcomes.
Note that Cisco doesn’t have the spending velocity of the pure plays such as CrowdStrike Holdings Inc., Okta Inc., Zscaler Inc., CyberArk Software Ltd. and SailPoint Technologies Inc. — or even Cloudflare – but its Net Score is respectable. Cisco also just purchased Armorblox Inc., which uses artificial intelligence to reduce email and other risks.
In many ways we think Cisco could be a leader in the security supercloud, bridging on-premises, multiple clouds and edge security experiences.
The following summarizes Keravala’s thoughts:
Kerravala acknowledges Cisco’s success in the security sector, citing notable products such as Kenna, Talos, Umbrella, Duo and AnyConnect. However, he identifies a critical missing element: a coherent Cisco security narrative. The fact that these products are still referred to individually underscores this deficiency. He also points out the lingering independent identity of these products, with customers sometimes being unaware of Cisco’s ownership.
According to Kerravala, the future of security is shifting toward platform-based solutions, moving away from signature-based systems to AI- and analytics-based models. Given Cisco’s broad network reach, the company should possess an unequalled advantage in security, having the ability to detect things that others can’t. Nevertheless, Cisco still needs to integrate its products and offerings better, a process that began with the XDR announcement at the RSA Conference.
Kerravala claims Cisco has succeeded in cybersecurity despite itself but has a great opportunity if it can address some of the stovepipe challenges.
The emerging observability opportunity
Let’s now dig into observability, which is sort of the confluence of log analytics, application performance management, monitoring and related fields. Cisco has a major stake in this business through its acquisitions of AppDynamics and ThousandEyes.
Before we look at the spending data, here’s what one customer said in an ETR roundtable about this topic:
This is a head of engineering… a customer who says I’m sticking with AppD. This person references the value of the ThousandEyes acquisition along with AppD and security. The application-centricity is an attractive dynamic to this Cisco shop. SecureX is Cisco’s integrated security play, which admittedly needs more and better integration. But basically in the second quote this person calls out the attractiveness and value of a single platform. If you’re a Cisco shop. And if not it’s a “free game” – perhaps implying a free-for-all of complexity.
Key takeaways from Kerravala’s commentary on this topic:
Watch Kerravala’s commentary on Cisco’s observability play with ThousandEyes & AppD.
Comparing key observability players’ spending profiles
Let’s get into the ETR data. ETR doesn’t have a full-stack observability category, but through this next view below we’re able to bring in various companies that are hovering around the space to see their relative positions.
It’s a similar chart above where we show Net Score against pervasiveness in the data. And we’ve plotted Splunk, Datadog Inc., Elastic N.V., Grafana Labs, Dynatrace Inc. and New Relic Inc.. You can see AppDynamics, which Cisco bought in 2017 for almost $4 billion. And it introduced Intersight shortly thereafter as a visualization and orchestration tool. But there were still holes in the portfolio as the market moved to full-stack observability, so Cisco bought ThousandEyes during the COVID pandemic for about $1 billion. Then it sort of strung them together with an overlay, but the story is not over.
Cisco has an opportunity to really take these pieces and integrate them across the portfolio in a potentially game-changing way. At least in the manner that one customer described earlier – especially for Cisco shops.
Kerravala’s primary argument is that Cisco needs to deliver on the vision of full-stack observability and streamline its multitude of single-pane-of-glass solutions into a unified, intuitive dashboard. The diverse range of visibility tools it currently offers could be more effectively utilized if they were integrated into one comprehensive system, with AppD serving as the principal lens. Operational specifics could then be accessed through drill-down features, allowing for a more organized and efficient user experience.
Kerravala’s key takeaways on observability:
Kerravala comments on Cisco’s many panes of glass.
What to watch at Cisco Live 2023
Kerravala just published a “Know before you go” post on SiliconANGLE, outlining his thoughts on what to expect at Cisco Live. Let’s review that and what we’ll be looking for next week.
Whither AI for Cisco?
A key question is how Cisco will handle AI. These days, brands run the risk AI washing, but if you bury the AI lede, you look less relevant. In our view, Cisco at the very least has to use AI to make Cisco infrastructure run better and more secure through automation and better management.
Here’s a summary of key points from our conversation with Zeus on what to expect from Cisco Live in terms of AI:
The security opportunity calls for Cisco
We’ll be watching the security space closely. We believe it’s a mandate that Cisco integrate its vast portfolio across on-prem, all the major clouds and out to the edge. Palo Alto Networks has the leg up on consolidation in our opinion, but Cisco has such a major presence that it can do very well in this area, coming at the problem its strength in networking.
Here’s a summary of what we think Cisco needs to do in security and what we’ll hear at Cisco Live:
Can Cisco be the supercloud network?
Core networking is always a the forefront of Cisco Live. I keep coming back to the supercloud concept – a singular experience across clouds in a cloud-native fashion. Can Cisco bridge the legacy world of apps and infrastructure with cloud-native?
Collaboration: Hybrid work is still a big thing
What about collaboration? That business went from rocket ship to rapid deceleration post-pandemic, but hybrid work isn’t going away and it brings real challenges. Is this a game of integrating with your security portfolio to reduce risk? Or creating better and more simplified user experiences? We know that Jeetu Patel wants to make Webex 10 times better than any other platform.
Application centricity is the opportunity in full-stack observability
Cisco we think has an opportunity to make some moves in full-stack observability, but the linchpin as Kerravala wrote on SiliconANGLE is the application-centric view of the world. The two main takeaways from our conversation on observability include:
Every large tech company has to address ESG
And finally we asked Kerravala if he has ever been to a Cisco Live where Chuck Robbins hasn’t done his part to address environmental, social and governance issues? Here’s a summary of what we discussed:
We didn’t talk much about edge, but it’s a significant part of the future and we anticipate hearing more about it in the future.
Here’s the full conversation about what to expect at Cisco Live
Finally, theCUBE will be at Cisco Live in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay. We’re on the expo floor across from the Net Vet Lounge, which is Booth 1427. We have a small space so we’re doing the pop-up CUBE and we’d love to see you. By all means please stop by and say hello.
Keep in touch
Many thanks to Zeus Kerravala for stopping by the studio to share his knowledge. Thanks to Alex Myerson and Ken Shifman on production, podcasts and media workflows for Breaking Analysis. Special thanks to Kristen Martin and Cheryl Knight, who help us keep our community informed and get the word out, and to Rob Hof, our editor in chief at SiliconANGLE.
Remember we publish each week on Wikibon and SiliconANGLE. These episodes are all available as podcasts wherever you listen.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, DM @dvellante on Twitter and comment on our LinkedIn posts.
Also, check out this ETR Tutorial we created, which explains the spending methodology in more detail. Note: ETR is a separate company from Wikibon and SiliconANGLE. If you would like to cite or republish any of the company’s data, or inquire about its services, please contact ETR at email@example.com.
Here’s the full video analysis:
All statements made regarding companies or securities are strictly beliefs, points of view and opinions held by SiliconANGLE Media, Enterprise Technology Research, other guests on theCUBE and guest writers. Such statements are not recommendations by these individuals to buy, sell or hold any security. The content presented does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. You and only you are responsible for your investment decisions.
Disclosure: Many of the companies cited in Breaking Analysis are sponsors of theCUBE and/or clients of Wikibon. None of these firms or other companies have any editorial control over or advanced viewing of what’s published in Breaking Analysis.
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In the past few days, technology stocks have been on a tear, inspired by the awesome performance of Nvidia (NVDA).
Nvidia, which makes chips beautifully suited for artificial-intelligence applications, saw its stock soar 27% in the week ended May 26, and 172% year-to-date. Kudos to those who own it, but I probably never will. It’s a very expensive stock, and I’m a cheapskate.
What do I mean by expensive? Nvidia shares go for 202 times the past four quarters’ earnings. For comparison, the average stock in the Standard & Poor’ 500 currently sells for 21 times earnings.
For value investors like me, who belong to the bargain-hunting school of stock selection, getting enough exposure to technology stocks is always a challenge. Tech stocks are in the forefront of innovation, and therefore they often sell for high multiples.
Here are a few tech stocks that I think price-conscious investors might consider. Each currently sells for less than 20 times earnings.
Cisco Systems CSCO
The company that led the field in computer networking before most people knew what that was, Cisco Systems now sells for 18 times earnings.
Had you invested $1,000 in Cisco on March 1, 1995 you would have had $34,982 five years later. Those glory days are past, but Cisco remains a formidable company. Its return on stockholders’ equity (a common measure of profitability) was 28% in the past four quarters. I consider anything north of 10% respectable, and anything above 15% good.
Financially strong, Cisco makes $35 in profits for every dollar it pays out in interest on its debt. Debt is 20% of equity; I consider anything below 50% a good ratio. Cisco’s profit margin after taxes is about 21% — again, a handsome number.
Texas Instruments TXN
Possibly you know Texas Instruments because of its hand-held calculators. But its main product is semiconductor chips. It is one of the most profitable companies in the chip industry, with a return on equity of 57%.
According to Wikipedia, Texas Instruments held 45,000 patents worldwide, as of 2016. In 1954, it made the first commercial silicon transistor, and the first transistor radio.
The company has exceeded a 15% return on equity in each of the past 15 years, and has been over 50% the past five years. The stock sells for just under 20 times earnings.
Applied Materials AMAT
Weighing in at 18 times earnings is Applied Materials, one of the world’s largest makers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. It, too, has a king-sized return on equity, 51% in the past four quarters.
Applied Materials has been profitable in 14 of the past 15 years, the exception being recession-scarred fiscal 2009. A potential problem, given the tough state of relations between the U.S. and China, is that Applied Materials gets about 28% of its revenue from China and another 24% from Taiwan.
Lam Research LRCX
Speaking of China, Lam Research has warned that this quarter’s revenue will come in below previous expectations, partly because the U.S. has restricted sales of certain advanced technologies to China. Revenue for the quarter may be about $3.1 billion, revised down from about 3.5 billion.
According to Reuters, Lam has been getting about 30% of its revenue from China. That includes Taiwan, where Taiwan Semiconductor is a big customer.
Lam is a leader in wafer fabrication equipment, particularly “etch,” the process of laying out the pathways on a semiconductor chip. Over the past decade, it has increased its revenue almost 20% a year. The stock sells for 18 times earnings.
I like Leidos Holdings, based in Reston, Virginia, because it provides software and services to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community. Given U.S. frictions with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, I think Congress will have to maintain or increase defense spending.
If that defense spending is to be effective, in my opinion, it will have to include a hefty dose of software upgrades. The company’s earnings history is inconsistent, but has shown a profit in 14 of the past 15 years, and has earned a 15% return on equity or better in 10 of those years. The stock sells for 16 times earnings. One worry: The balance sheet is a little heavy on debt for my taste.
Disclosure: I own Texas Instruments and Lam Research personally and for most of my clients. I own Applied Materials for some clients. Katharine Davidge, my wife and a portfolio manager at my firm, owns Nvidia personally and for some clients.
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To sustain growth — and hence reward equity owners — public company CEOs must exceed investor expectations each quarter.
In the last three years, rapidly changing headwinds and tailwinds have made that particularly challenging. Some companies — such as Zoom Video, Peloton, and Wayfair W — enjoyed massive growth in demand as people worked from home.
What’s more, technology companies that enabled people to work from home also enjoyed a surge in demand because the war for scarce talent caused employers to let remote workers use whatever applications they wanted.
As the pandemic waned and the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in March 2022, these consumer-focused pandemic darlings suffered a plunge in demand growth.
Meanwhile, enterprise technology companies — such as Waltham, Mass.-based Dynatrace — have experienced a more subtle fate. As macroeconomic headwinds strengthen, companies buy more technology that helps them cut costs and hold onto revenue.
Dynatrace, a provider of tools that find and fix glitches in the vital cloud software companies use to interact with their customers, provides such CFO CFO -friendly benefits.
In a May 18 interview following a strong first quarter financial report, CEO Rick McConnell made a clear case for the value of Dynatrace products to its enterprise customers and why the company will continue to grow in the face of today’s macroeconomic headwinds.
Meanwhile, purveyors of technology that does not offer companies such financial benefits must present compelling proof of value. If they cannot provide such proof, customers are likely to spend less on their products.
(I have no financial interest in the securities mentioned in this post).
Dynatrace’s Strong Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2023 Report
Dynatrace’s latest earnings report for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023 ending March 2023 exceeded most investor expectations as did its first quarter results and its forecast for the fiscal year 2024.
Here are the highlights, according to Investor’s Business Daily:
The one disappointment was the addition of 179 new corporate customers — which was 17% fewer than the previous quarter, according to an RBC Capital report.
Early contract renewals and significant tax payments also concerned RBC Capital. More specifically, $13 million in increased ARR came from early renewals and free cash flow in 2024 is expected to be $60 million lower due to tax payments, noted IBD.
Investors reacted positively to the report. Since May 16, the day before the earnings announcement, Dynatrace stock has increased 5% to $49 per share.
Dynatrace’s Winding Road To $14.2 Billion Market Capitalization
Dynatrace has taken a long path to today’s $14.2 billion stock market capitalization. It was founded in Austria in 2006, backed by Bain Capital, acquired by Compuware, taken over by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, spun out of Compuware, and brought public in 2019.
In February 2017, then-CEO John Van Siclen, a Princeton history major who previously ran Interwoven, an enterprise content management firm, told me Dynatrace was founded by Bernd Greifeneder in Linz, Austria and moved to Waltham in 2008 after Bain Capital backed it. In 2011, Compuware bought Dynatrace. Three years later, Thoma Bravo acquired Compuware.
Thoma Bravo later spun out Dynatrace as a private portfolio company and worked its magic on the company. As Van Siclen told me, Thoma Bravo boosted cash flow by cutting costs in functions outside of product development, sales, and customer support. It hired enough salespeople to meet bookings goals, created clear metrics, and optimized finance, IT, and human resources.
In August 2019, Dynatrace went public and as of May 20, Thoma Bravo still owned 29% of Dynatrace stock.
However, in December 2021, McConnell took over as CEO after Van Siclen retired. As McConnell explained, “I was CEO of a startup that Cisco acquired in the early 2000s and ran Cisco’s unified communications business. After that I spent eight years at Akamai and ran products before becoming president. In 2021 Dynatrace needed a CEO. I was making a transition and most of the offers were easy to say ‘no’ to.”
The Stanford MBA tried but could not find a reason not to take the Dynatrace CEO job. “I was trying to find out what was wrong with Dynatrace and could not see a hole in its story. It was performing according to the rule of 50 — ARR growth plus cash flow margin was above 50%, it had a great product set, its customer relationships were bulletproof. In November 2021, I took it and haven’t looked back,” he told me.
Sadly for investors, since peaking in October 2021 at $22.8 billion, Dynatrace’s stock market capitalization has declined 38% during which time the NASDAQ NDAQ fell 20%.
How Dynatrace Keeps Creating Value For Customers
Dynatrace creates value for enterprises by identifying and fixing problems with their cloud-based software more quickly and effectively than competing products. It invents new products that solve new problems its customers face while rivals try to protect their old products. Finally, it holds people accountable for achieving ambitious goals.
Why Dynatrace customers keep buying despite macroeconomic headwinds
Companies have transitioned to running their operational software in the cloud, which has increased the challenges of maintaining an excellent customer experience. As McConnell told me, “The problem we are solving is the massive explosion of data created by the proliferation of the cloud. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud are driving a huge business with $175 billion in ARR. This creates an explosion of data and the complexity of software developed to run on the cloud must be bulletproof.”
People expect their interactions with a company to work perfectly, “Users expect the cloud to work all the time. It used to be that when software ran on mainframes it would be updated every six months. On the cloud software is updated far more frequently and it is hard to make the software work as well. Users expect it to work every time. The explosion of data and applications makes it harder to manage,” he said.
Dynatrace creates measurable value for its customers by improving the user experience to prevent lost revenue. “British Telecom started using Dynatrace a year ago. They issued a public report on our behalf. We helped them reduce the number of incidents by 50%. This will enable them to save about $35 million over several years,” he said.
Nevertheless, Dynatrace is not immune to the prevailing macroeconomic headwinds. “We are not impervious to macroeconomic challenges. Enterprise budgets are tighter and the sales cycle is lengthening. We show clients how we create value for them — by helping your environment work better by saving money and improving the user experience. The last iPhone launch was flawless due to Dynatrace,” he said.
How Dynatrace wins and keeps customers buying
Dynatrace prevails against rivals because it identifies and solves problems with cloud software more effectively.
Specifically, Dynatrace saves customers time spent troubleshooting. Its competitors provide dashboards with relatively vague red, yellow, and green diagnosis of cloud application performance.
Dynatrace offers a decade old AI engine that provides automated responses to resolve problems more quickly. “We can pinpoint the problem to a server in Virginia or a specific slice of code,” McConnell noted.
Dynatrace keeps customers buying by adding new services. Its net retention — a measure of how much more its customers spent in the most recent year — is 119%. Dynatrace’s gross retention is about 95%. He told me that Dynatrace customers need to identify security vulnerabilities in software — so Dynatrace has added an application security service.
How Dynatrace stays ahead of the competition
Dynatrace stays ahead of rivals by viewing itself from the customer’s perspective, setting clear objectives, holding people accountable, and reinventing itself as rivals defend their core products.
Dynatrace listens to the voice of the customer. “Our product strategy, pricing, and organization structure is aimed at delivering customer value. I meet with customers every month and we are helping them with the three or four most important applications that they use to run their business. It is super humbling,” said McConnell.
Dynatrace operates a flat organization and empowers people to meet its objectives. The company values people who are ethical, tenacious, humble and who always aim to be better. This approach enables Dynatrace to grow ARR at 29% and enjoy significant cash flow — resulting in 29% free cash flow margins.
Dynatrace has maintained its lead in the industry while rivals have fallen behind. As he told me, “Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave report we are a leader in the industry. The companies that were leaders five years ago moved down and to the left.”
While rivals suffer from what I call cognitive lock-in, Dynatrace says it has “innovation DNA. We constantly look to reinvent and evolve as the market evolves. Our core market of observability is merging with log management — from companies like Splunk. We see the markets converging,” he explained.
By contrast, Dynatrace’s competitors protect their core business. “They are ahead for the first three quarters and they start playing defense because they’re leading. Why are you slowing down? They seem to have lost a vision of what they are trying to achieve and are not innovating in that direction,” he said.
A key Dynatrace advantage is its European R&D organization. “Our secret weapon is our 1,000 person R&D unit in Austria and central Europe. They are talented, loyal engineers focused on success. Our founder and chief technology officer is a passionate innovator,” McConnell concluded.
What’s Next For Dynatrace Stock?
Given the value that Dynatrace provides for customers, its stock seems underappreciated. According to CNN Business, 24 analysts set the company’s median 12-month price target at $53.50 — about 8.8% above its current price.
If Dynatrace can keep providing customers with a significant return in investment — as measured by cost reduction and revenue enhancement — its stock price could go up much more.
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Cisco has renewed its partnership as the USGA’s official technology partner. The two sides will collaborate in forming an Innovation Committee to further explore tech-driven advances in golf and introduce the USGA ShotCast Powered by Cisco in 2023, enabling users of the USGA app and website to receive real-time shot tracking data and 3D hole imagery for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open. Every shot shown in the TV broadcast will be archived for fans to view, which is a first for the U.S. Women’s Open.
Through this relationship, Cisco debuted the first “Connected Course” -- Wi-Fi covering all 18 holes of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach -- while enhancing the fan experience with Webex video sharing during the height of the pandemic and introducing 4D volumetric swing capture in broadcasts. Cisco will increase its support of the U.S. Adaptive Open while continuing to back other initiatives to make golf more diverse and inclusive.
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India will start a pilot project this week to establish itself as an electronics repair hub by relaxing cumbersome import-export rules, a move that could draw tech majors such as Flex to expand such operations in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promoted electronics manufacturing in India and attracted the likes of Apple and Xiaomi, but the country still lacks an industry for repair outsourcing which is estimated to be worth $100 billion globally and currently dominated by China and Malaysia. Following a push by an industry group for IT and electronics manufacturers, MAIT, the Indian government will test changes to lower the time required for necessary approvals for imports and exports to a day from as much as 10 days.
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