600-455 techniques - Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (DUCCE) Updated: 2023
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Exam Code: 600-455 Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (DUCCE) techniques November 2023 by Killexams.com team|
600-455 Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (DUCCE)
Designing Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise
Exam Number :
Exam Duration :
Questions in exam :
Passing Score :
Variable (750-850 / 1000 Approx.)
Recommended Training :
Administering Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise Part 1 (AUCCE1) 2.0
Administering Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise Part 2 (AUCCE2) 2.0
Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (DUCCE) 2.0
Exam Registration :
Real Questions :
Cisco 600-455 Real Questions
VCE practice exam :
Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise Specialist Practice Test
Describe the Features and Functionality of the Cisco Unified CCE Solution 23%
1. Describe the role of Cisco Unified Communications Manager in Cisco Unified CCE
2. Describe the role of voice gateways and Session Initiation Protocol proxy in Cisco Unified CCE
3. Describe the role of congestion control in Cisco Unified CCE
4. Describe the role of Cisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management (Unified ICM) in Cisco Unified CCE
5. Describe the role of CTI in Cisco Unified CCE
6. Describe the role of Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal in Cisco Unified CCE
7. Describe the role of high priority traffic in Cisco Unified ICM
8. Describe the methods available to configure and use precision routing
9. Describe the role of Cisco Unified Mobile Agent in Cisco Unified CCE
10. Describe the role of Cisco Outbound Option in Cisco Unified CCE
11. Describe the methods available to secure the Cisco Unified CCE solution and their impact on system capacity and functionality
Identify the Design Considerations for Cisco Unified Communications Manager in a Cisco Unified CCE Solution 11%
1. Describe the Cisco Unified Communications Manager originated calls to Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal
2. Describe the Cisco Unified Communications Manager options for transfer calls to agents involving SIP trunks
3. Describe the requirements for Cisco Unified Mobile Agent on Cisco Unified Communications Manager
4. Describe the impact of the multiline automatic call distributor functionality of Cisco Unified CCE on Cisco Unified Communications Manager
5. Describe the cluster over the WAN consideration for Cisco Unified Communications Manager
6. Describe the Cisco Unified Communications Manager redundancy options for centralized deployment
7. Describe the methods available to maintain end to end reporting for transferred calls
Identify the Network Design Considerations in a Cisco Unified CCE Solution 19%
1. Explain the failure scenarios with geographically separated Cisco Unified CCE deployments
2. Describe the quality of service usage within Unified Contact Center Enterprise solution
3. Explain the network requirements to support the Clustering over the WAN (CoW) deployment model for the Cisco Unified CCE solution
4. Describe the basic deployment models for the Cisco Unified CCE solution (single-site, multisite centralized, and multisite distributed)
5. Explain network requirements for the Cisco Unified Intelligent Contact Management visible and private network connections in a Cisco Unified CCE solution
6. Describe Cisco Finesse failover scenarios
7. Describe the factors that impact Cisco Unified Intelligence Center bandwidth usage
8. Describe the Test Other Side method used in Unified Intelligent Contact Management
9. Describe the high-availability options of all components supported in the Cisco Unified CCE solution
Identify the Design Considerations for Cisco Unified ICM, Cisco Finesse, Cisco Unified CVP, and Cisco Unified Intelligence Center in a Cisco Unified CCE Solution 23%
1. Explain call type usage within Cisco Unified ICM in Cisco Unified CCE solution
2. Describe the design consideration for administrative workstations when Unified CCE is deployed into two data centers (geographically separated)
3. Describe the impact for re-qualify call node in Cisco Unified ICM script
4. Describe the Cisco Unified Boarder Element and SIP proxy functionality within Cisco Unified CCE solution
5. Describe Post Call Survey functionality and its call flow
6. Describe Whisper Announcement functionality and its call flow
7. Describe Courtesy Call back functionality and its call flow
8. Describe Cisco Finesse features and its third-party gadgets
9. Describe the Cisco Finesse workflow
10. Describe the agent target rules feature of Cisco Unified ICM and the impact it has on the Cisco Unified CCE solution
Describe the Sizing Process for Contact Center Resources and Cisco Unified CCE Components
1. Describe common sizing inputs such as agent talk time, queue time, and wrap-up time and their impact on sizing contact center resources
2. Explain how Erlang calculations are used as part of the sizing for contact center resources
3. Describe the Packaged CCE capacity
4. Describe the sizing consideration for SIP proxy methods
5. Describe the factors that are used to size the components of the Cisco Unified CCE solution — including Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified CVP, and Cisco Unified ICM components, such as peripheral gateway, router, logger, and administrative workstations
6. Describe the factors that are used in sizing the bandwidth required for the Cisco Unified CCE solution
Describe the Virtualization Environment for Contact Center Resources and Cisco Unified CCE Components
1. Identify the VMware supported features
2. Describe the configuration considerations for NIC in virtualization environment
3. Describe the Cisco Unified Computing System B_Series fabric interconnection and the upstream network connectivity
4. Describe the design considerations for Cisco Unified CCE running on the Cisco Unified Computing System B_Series
5. Describe the design considerations for upstream IP switches when using the Cisco Unified Computing System C_Series
|Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise (DUCCE)|
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Deploying Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise
A Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise solution is designed with geographic redundancy for the central controllers (with separate call routers
and loggers). If
Call Router Side A has device majority and its Ethernet private network NIC fails, which two events occur? (Choose two.)
A. Both sides go out of service for small period of time, Call Router Side A goes active, and Call Router Side B goes idle
B. Both sides go in service for small period of time, Call Router Side A goes active after negotiations with Call Router Side B, Call Router
Side B goes idle
C. There is no ability to make ICM configuration changes at Side B
D. The Call Router Side A stays active, while Call Router Side B goes idle
E. The Call Router Side B stays active, while the Call Router Side A goes idle
Which statement about the Cisco UCCE solution in the virtualized environment is true?
A. VMware NIC teaming whether in active-active or active-standby configuration on the UCS B/C series is supported
B. Nexus 1000V virtual distributed switch can be used but only for 500 agent deployment model
C. Cisco UCS VIC can be used on UCS C series TRC models
D. Spec-based virtualized servers based on Intel E5 26xx cpu family at speed 2.40 GHz is supported
Which setup is correct when you configure the Cisco UCS B VICs to reach the Fabric Interconnect Switches for the Cisco UCCE on UCS B
A. Disable the Fabric Failover only when the UCS B FI connects to a Disjointed L2 domain in the upstream network
B. Enable the Fabric Failover to reach both Fabric Interconnect A and B in HA paths
C. Disable the Fabric Failover option.
D. Enable the Fabric Failover only when the UCS B FI connects to a Common L2 domain in the upstream network
In a Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise deployment with geographically redundant central controllers, a new site is added with new
redundancy requirements for Administration. Which option is the recommended configuration?
A. 1 - Primary AW, 1 - Secondary AW
B. 1 - Primary AW, 1 – Administration Client
C. 1 - Secondary AW, 1 – Administration Client
D. 2 - Primary Administration Client, 1 - Secondary Administration Client
Which two system responses are valid if the Cisco UCCE (centralized deployment with remote branches which includes agents, phones and
desktops only) and the remote branch lose the public network connection to both of the data centers? (Choose two.)
A. The Cisco Finesse server automatically signs the agent out of the system
B. The voice gateway detects the loss of connection to the Cisco Unified CVP call server. The voice gateway then executes local bootstrap
TCL script, answers the call, and forwards it to the hunt group
C. Agents continue to have access to historical reports
D. The active call that arrived at the local PSTN connection and was answered by agent at that site remains active
E. The voice gateway detects the loss of connection to the Cisco Unified CVP call server. The voice gateway then connects to the
In Cisco Finesse 10.0(x), Which is the last operation a supervisor needs to perform in order to intercept the call?
A. after a supervisor has transferred the call
B. after a supervisor has selected a talking agent for monitoring
C. after a supervisor has started monitoring a call
D. after a supervisor has barged into a call
Under which circumstance(s), can the Public/Visible network share the WAN with the Private network in the Cisco UCCE Clustering over the
A. SONET WAN with multiple edge devices per Data Center to connect to the SONET ring
B. under no circumstances
C. MPLS WAN with a single edge device per Data Center that connects to multiple 1 Gbps WAN circuits and the failover between the
WAN circuits is less than 500 ms.
D. MPLS WAN with multiple 1 Gbps WAN circuits and a fast 100 ms Round Trip latency between Data Centers
Which two options are the maximum number of concurrent reports supported by CUIC? (Choose two.)
A. Up to maximum agent capacity for historical report using live data
B. 100 concurrent Historical reports
C. 800 concurrent Real-time reports
D. 400 concurrent Real-time reports
E. 400 concurrent Historical reports
Which three statements about the Cisco Unified CVP Post Call Survey (PCS) are true? (Choose three.)
A. The mapping of a dialed number pattern to a PCS number enables the PCS feature for the call
B. PCS lets you schedule a call to the caller at a later time
C. For reporting purposes, the PCS call has the same call key information
D. The value of the user.microapp. is PCS controls whether the call is transferred to the PCS number
E. SIP REFER call flow is required to trigger PCS
F. The call context for the PCS includes GUID and all context up to the point where the call is transferred to the agent. Context that the
agent creates after the transfer is not included in the PCS context
Which statement about when you deploy Cisco UCCE 12,000 agent deployment model where each physical CPU core is mapped 1-1 with a
vCPU is true?
A. You can overload/over-subscribe the vCPU/cores on the UCS servers as long as the total CPU reservations are within 65 percent of the
available CPU of the host (there is spare room in CPU computing resources).
B. You cannot overload/over-subscribe the vCPU/cores on the UCS servers even if you do not over-subscribe the computing resources in
MHz on each server host.
C. You can overload/over-subscribe the vCPU/cores on the UCS servers as long as the memory reservations are within 80% of the
available memory of the host.
D. You can overload/over-subscribe the vCPU/cores on the UCS servers as long as you do not over-subscribe the computing resources in
MHz on each server
Refer to the exhibit.
In a Cisco Finesse 10.0(x) deployment, in Supervisor Gadget under the Queue Statistics pane, which option describes what the Other column
A. number of agents assigned to the queue who are on inbound calls
B. number of calls handled by the agents associated with that queue
C. number of agents assigned to the queue who are on outbound calls
D. number of agents assigned to the queue who are on internal consult calls
Which three options are valid when Cisco Unified Customer Voice Portal comprehensive call flow and survivability service handles SIP
REFER? (Choose three.)
A. SIP trunk alternate destination routing (ADR) must be disabled for REFER
B. An application-controlled alternative is to set an ECC variable (user.sip.refertransfer) to the value y in the Unified ICM script
C. Router requery on a failed SIP Refer transfer where the survivability service is not handling the SIP Refer request
D. Direct Refer transfer using label works only if Send To VRU node is NOT used before the Refer
E. Unified ICM sends Unified CVP a routing label with a format of rfXXXX
F. Standalone Cisco Unified CVP with ICM Lookup label
Which two features does the SIP Proxy provide when deployed with Cisco UCCE, Cisco Unified CVP? (Choose two.)
A. demarcation point between networks
B. centralized dial plan
C. SIP VXML voice browser
D. N+1 or N:N redundancy
E. load balancer for HTTP and SIP
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Cisco has a variety of new partnerships and programs aimed at helping enterprises build AI-ready infrastructure.
Cisco is taking a collaborative approach to helping enterprise customers build AI infrastructures.
At its exact partner summit, Cisco talked up a variety of new programs and partnerships aimed at helping enterprises get their core infrastructure ready for AI workloads and applications.
"While AI is driving a lot of changes in technology, we believe that it should not require a wholesale rethink of customer data center operations," said Todd Brannon, senior director, cloud infrastructure marketing, with Cisco's cloud infrastructure and software group.
As AI projects move from science projects in an organization's backroom to mission-critical applications, enterprise infrastructure and operations teams are being challenged because they are dealing with new workloads running on familiar infrastructure but with new requirements, Brannon said.
"The idea is that we want to help our customers deploy and manage AI workloads efficiently, find that right mix of acceleration, and not over provision or leave stranded resources or create new islands of operations," added Sean McGee, cloud & data center technology strategist with Cisco.
One of the ways Cisco intends to help customers is by offering a suite of validated designs that can easily be deployed as enterprise AI needs evolve.
The company recently announced four new Cisco Validated Designs for AI blueprints from Red Hat, Nvidia, OpenAI, and Cloudera to focus on virtualized and containerized environments as well as converged and hyperconverged infrastructure options. Cisco already had validated AI models on its menu from AMD, Intel, Nutanix, Flashstack and Flexpod.
The validated designs allow customers to use these models and fine tune what they want to do for their business, McGee said.
Cisco is building Ansible-based automation playbooks on top of these models that customers can use with Cisco's Intersight cloud-based management and orchestration system to automatically inject their own data into the models and build out repositories that can be used in their infrastructure, including at the edge of the network and in the data center, McGee said.
Cisco's Intersight package manages a variety of systems from Kubernetes containers to applications, servers, and hyperconverged environments from a single location.
"Utilizing Intersight and our systems stack, customers can deploy and manage AI-validated workloads," Brannon said. "The message is that we don’t want our customers and partners having to completely rethink the operation side, even though they’re having to rethink some things on the GPU provisioning side for AI, for example," Brannon said.
In addition, as Cisco gets feedback from its customers on AI-specific features or additional validated designs, it will augment Intersight with new features, Brannon said.
Also, over time these models will evolve as more data is used to tune them, and customers can easily adjust them to fit the needs of their enterprise infrastructure, McGee said. "Our partners, too, can utilize these models to significantly expand their services. [They can] really supply them a head start and relieve a lot of the engineering expense and time that they need to put these services together for customers."
Cisco recently unveiled Data Center Networking Blueprint for AI/ML Applications that defines how organizations can use existing data center Ethernet networks to support AI workloads now.
A core component of the data center AI blueprint is Cisco's Nexus 9000 data center switches, which support up to 25.6Tbps of bandwidth per ASIC and "have the hardware and software capabilities available today to provide the right latency, congestion management mechanisms, and telemetry to meet the requirements of AI/ML applications," Cisco stated. "Coupled with tools such as Cisco Nexus Dashboard Insights for visibility and Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller for automation, Cisco Nexus 9000 switches become ideal platforms to build a high-performance AI/ML network fabric."
Cisco has also published scripts so customers can automate specific settings across the network to set up this network fabric and simplify configurations, Cisco stated.
Networking giant Cisco has announced seven new modules on its Observability Platform, looking to help customers fulfil their specific observability needs and utilise additional value from observable telemetry.
First announced in February 2023 and launched for general availability in June 2023, Cisco Full-Stack Observability is designed to allow teams to bring together telemetry data from their own context and drive correlated insights across the entire IT estate, whether they are DevOps engineers, site reliability engineers, cloud ops, ITOps, line of business or members of C-suite management.
As IT and application environments become ever more complex, observability – the ability to see and get ahead of network-based issues and everything in the tech stack that could affect customer experience – has become a board-level imperative.
Cisco said the background to the launch in February was the battle among consumer brands to gain market share by focusing on the experience customers have in accessing their products and services. This is quickly reaching into the enterprise arena, whereby hybrid workers expect the capability of their IT services to be identical wherever they are. As these expectations increase, Cisco said it was aiming to allow firms to deliver the required digital experiences by staff, customers and partners alike.
The company now says that modern businesses are digitally led, with customer and user experiences achieved with and through applications. It believes the speed and complexity of how these applications are built demands that IT teams, security teams and business leaders observe all aspects of application performance and experience in real time. Yet the company cited a exact IDC report showing 60% of IT professionals are panic that most observability tools serve narrow requirements, failing to supply IT teams a complete view into current and trending operating conditions. Further, 65% stated the need for a programmable and extensible observability solution that could be used for use cases specific to their own business.
As a solution, the new open, extensible and API-driven stack was built by Cisco’s development partners and created to expand its full-stack observability ecosystem. The new modules are focused on five critical areas: business insights, SAP visibility, networking, MLOps and service-level objectives (SLO), and sustainability.
Business insights functions aim to correlate telemetry data with business performance across multiple domains, providing customers with full visibility and insights on how business interacts with IT. The new platform can now help customers achieve holistic observability across often changeable, expanding and complex SAP landscapes and ecosystems and use Cisco’s networking expertise to correlate key network telemetry with business metrics and application stacks.
With the growing use of generative AI and the mainstreaming of modern applications, the Cisco Observability Platform is also designed to allow customers to monitor these applications, their SLO and bring the monitoring of large language models (LLMs), and MLOps models together with application observability. Cisco also sees the upgrade as being able to help assist customers achieve their sustainability goals by providing data around the carbon footprint across multiple IT domains and help optimise around energy consumption.
Commenting on the launch of the new modules and what they could deliver, Will Townsend, vice president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy said: “Full-stack observability is unlocking a host of use cases that are providing enterprises with deeper levels of cross-domain visibility for improved application performance, network insights, security postures and assurance. The resulting benefits of reducing risk and improving the resilience of IT infrastructure are immeasurable. [The Cisco Observability Platform] ecosystem has the potential to provide a diverse set of solutions that can help customers reduce tool sprawl and more proactively manage business operations through partner-led observability practices.”
New modules available immediately covering these capabilities are: CloudFabrix - SAP Observability; CloudFabrix - Campus Analytics; Evolutio – Claims; Evolutio – eCommerce; DataRobot – MLOps by Evolutio; Climatiq - Cloud Carbon Insights; Nobl9 – Service Level Objectives (SLO).
There's no question that GenAI applications are starting to make a big impact on enterprise applications. Until recently, most of the attention given to GenAI in the business context was focused on text-based Large Language Models (LLMs) and chatbot-style applications that leverage them. However, at their exact Webex One conference, Cisco highlighted how foundational models and other GenAI tools can also profoundly enhance communications and collaboration.
Cisco announced several enhancements related to AI integration across its Webex suite. Many of these involve adding an extra layer of intelligence to Webex, while others focus on audio and video quality improvements. Moreover, Cisco continued its history of collaborating with Apple by introducing enhanced support for Apple devices, including the Apple TV and Apple Watch.
Like its competitors, Cisco initially introduced AI-powered features in Webex, such as automatic transcription and meeting summarization, but the new capabilities they announced demonstrate a new level of sophistication. These updates offer insights into how GenAI-based tools are expected to evolve.
Undoubtedly, the most intriguing development is the introduction of a new type of model that Cisco is calling the Real-Time Media Models (RMMs). These are based on audio and video data. Cisco claims that RMMs can furnish supplemental data about a meeting derived from visual cues, gestures, body language, message tone, and more.
While text-based meeting transcriptions and summaries are valuable, they often miss the subtle yet crucial nuances in how things are said and how participants respond. These nuances can significantly influence how certain ideas or messages are interpreted and conveyed. Cisco believes it can enrich its existing AI-powered meeting notes by integrating RMM data with its current LLM-based text content.
In theory, these sound impressive, but it will take some real-world usage to see how effective they are in capturing and integrating this information into meeting summaries. Regardless, it's an interesting example of how Webex continues to innovate while trying to stay a step ahead of its competition – not an easy task in a market that moves as quickly as video collaboration.
One of the other benefits of leveraging RMMs, according to Cisco, is the ability to create meeting summarization in video form. This allows people to get a movie preview style summary of a meeting, allowing people to easily watch what happened instead of simply practicing about it. Again, the proof will be in the pudding, but it's unquestionably a great concept.
RMMs also enhance the Webex AI Assistant. Similar to other digital assistant features, the Webex version is geared to furnish intelligent responses to user queries inputted into a chat-style interface. For instance, users can prompt the Webex AI Assistant to summarize meetings they missed or underscore remarks from specific attendees, like whatever your boss said. The integration of RMM data differentiates this feature by providing deeper context. By analyzing the video feed, future Webex AI Assistant iterations could potentially auto-generate summaries of segments a participant missed, ensuring continuity.
The Webex AI Assistant can also suggest responses for customer service agents, helping them Boost their responses, and can even make suggestions in the tone of how things are (or should be) said. Additionally, Cisco mentioned their intent to support multiple LLMs alongside their RMMs within the Webex AI Assistant. Essentially, they could interchange the GenAI engine, optimizing it per customer or employee type.
The final piece of the new Webex AI strategy is an enhanced set of AI audio and video codecs. These tools can dramatically minimize data requirements and, through GenAI, can even recover lost packets, ensuring uninterrupted audio. On the video front, employing super-resolution techniques, akin to those used in AI-image enhancement, allows Webex to upgrade video quality and resolution over subpar connections. The end product should be a smoother, glitch-free meeting experience.
The evolution of meeting and collaboration tools like Webex and its competitors continues at a breakneck pace. It won't be long before rivals like Microsoft, Zoom and Google start to catch up. Still, it's great to see how Cisco is pushing forward the integration of GenAI into Webex and providing an intriguing view into how these technologies continue to evolve.
Bob O'Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech
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The vendors are combining Cisco 8000 series routers, Aviz Networks’ SONiC management software, and 24-7 support to accelerate SONiC deployments in private and edge clouds.
Cisco is teaming with Aviz Networks to offer an enterprise-grade SONiC offering for large customers interested in deploying the open-source network operating system.
Under the partnership, Cisco’s 8000 series routers will be available with Aviz Networks’ SONiC management software and 24/7 support. The support aspect of the agreement may be the most significant portion of the partnership, as both companies attempt to assuage customers’ anxiety about supporting an open-source NOS.
While SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) is starting to attract the attention of some large enterprises, deployments today are still mainly seen in the largest hyperscalers. With this announcement, Cisco and Aviz are making SONiC more viable for smaller cloud providers, service providers, and those very large enterprises that own and operate their own data centers, said Kevin Wollenweber, senior vice president and general manager with Cisco networking, data center and provider connectivity.
“One of the biggest challenges when deploying an open operating system is knowing who to go to when things aren’t working exactly as they should. Meaning, for anyone without an army of engineers to troubleshoot, this approach may be too risky,” said Wollenweber.
“This agreement is innovative in that it cuts out the finger-pointing that is typically associated with the integration of different solutions and focuses on issue resolution. As enterprises and service providers more broadly consider SONiC for their networks, end-to-end support is a critical aspect for adoption,” Wollenweber said.
Aviz Networks’ SONiC suite
On the software side, Aviz offers Open Networking Enterprise Suite (ONES), a suite of software to manage SONiC networks. From its SONiC-based controller, ONES supports zero-touch provisioning and configuration validation. It includes SONiC configuration templates for data-center leaf/spine configurations and supports standard networking technologies such as EVPN, VxLAN, and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).
ONES compiles a network’s hardware and software inventory by gathering telemetry from switches in the network. It supports multi-vendor NOSes such as Nvidia Cumulus Linux, Arista EOS, and Cisco NX-OS, as well as switches that utilize standard OpenConfig telemetry, according to Aviz.
“Under the agreement, Aviz will provide the front-end support with Cisco customers. Support is delivered via Aviz ONES – which is a support product and helps cut down the cost of support and turnaround time,” said CEO Vishal Shukla of Aviz.
“ONES collects the support data, and Aviz experts will help triage and fix bugs in the SONiC layer as necessary, and also manage the SONiC release with Cisco as required,” Shukla said. “The issues stemming from the BSP [Broad Support Layer] and ASIC layer will be fixed by Cisco, and Aviz will work directly with the Cisco Engineering team for those fixes. The agreement specifies processes regarding how Aviz and Cisco’s engineering team will interact for release management, bug fixes review, etc.,” Shukla said.
“Making SONiC a mainline and widely adopted NOS occurs when a mainline switch company, as large and global as Cisco, publicly supports the ecosystem,” Shukla said. “The agreement also signals how companies are aligned with the way the open-source consumption model works. In short, the SONiC market has taken shape to go mainstream.”
The Aviz-Cisco partnership is not just about SONiC, Shukla said; it’s an acknowledgement that “open source” and “multi-vendor” are today’s reality.
“The agreement demonstrates that disaggregated support and multi-vendor automation tools provide a way into the future for customers. SONiC is no longer relegated to a ‘white box game’ – we are providing customers with higher confidence and flexibility to support their networks on their terms,” Shukla said.
With this coordinated support offering from Cisco and Aviz, Aviz will initially triage issues and determine whether the issues relate to SONiC, Cisco infrastructure software, and/or Cisco hardware. Aviz will address issues related to SONiC. Issues that are related to Cisco software and/or hardware will be addressed with a Cisco support case, Wollenweber said.
Although the partnership is the first between the two vendors, Cisco 8000 series routers are already part of Aviz’s Open Networking Experience (ONE) Center for SONiC. The ONE Center is a lab Aviz built to provide online and in-person testing facilities at no cost so that customers can try out the capabilities of SONiC across a wide range of hardware. The ONE Center lab is supported by collaboration with the Linux Foundation, The Open Compute Project, Celestica, Cisco, Edgecore, Nvidia, Ragile, Supermicro, Wistron, and Keysight.
SONiC gaining interest
SONiC is a Linux-based NOS that decouples network software from the underlying hardware and lets it run on hundreds of switches and ASICs from multiple vendors while supporting a full suite of network features such as BGP, remote direct memory access (RDMA), QoS, and ethernet/IP. Some of the driving ideas behind SONiC-based systems are to simplify, scale and bring flexibility to cloud and edge networking environments.
Microsoft developed and then open-sourced SONiC. And in 2022, Microsoft turned the project over to the Linux Foundation and its large community of developers. The vendor community supporting SONiC has been growing and includes Dell, Arista, Nokia, Alibaba, Comcast, Cisco, Broadcom, Juniper Apstra, Edgecore, Innovium, Nvidia, Celetica, and VMware. It has also been integrated with other open-source projects, including Kubernetes and Ansible, and is being used by Verizon, AWS, Netflix and others to develop cloud-based services.
“Adding support for SONiC environments is a big part of this agreement for enterprise customers, but I think multi-cloud and the ability to move and shift workloads between clouds and on-prem is more mainstream, and SONiC helps solve that,” said Alan Weckel, a technology analyst with the 650 Group, which predicts that worldwide SONiC revenue will exceed $8 billion in the data center switching arena by 2027. “SONiC continues to expand in both the T2 Cloud and the enterprise market. There is a lot of interest out there in SONiC from a NOS perspective, but also in developing an ecosystem on top of that for additional services.”
Aviz has made a lot of progress on gaining additional customers and adding new features, Weckel said. “What is really interesting is the additional interest enterprises have in SONiC and the potential to add more on top of SONiC. I think this will play out in a bigger way as the observability and networking market continues to come together,” Weckel said.
“The agreement also shows that Cisco’s customers are getting more vocal about asking for SONiC, and that Cisco sees the Aviz partnership as an advantage for the 8000 Series,” Weckel said. It also shows Cisco is clearly seeing SONiC demand beyond one or two hyperscalers.”
Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. fell more than 11% in extended trading today as the company warned it will likely miss analysts’ expectations in its fiscal second quarter by a wide margin.
The company expects this to have a knock-on effect, and its forecast for the current fiscal year also came in low.
The disappointing guidance came in the wake of a solid earnings beat. The company reported first quarter earnings before certain costs such as stock compensation of $1.11 per share, with revenue up 8% from a year earlier to $14.67 billion. The results were better-than-expected, with analysts looking for earnings of just $1.03 per share on sales of $14.61 billion.
All told, Cisco reported a net income of $3.64 billion for the quarter, up from $2.67 billion a year earlier.
Cisco said its problem is that it has experienced a notable slowdown in new product orders during the quarter. This is because many of its clients are currently busy installing and implementing products that were delivered recently, over the prior three quarters, Cisco Chief Executive Chuck Robbins (pictured) said in a conference call with analysts.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had been stuck with a backlog of unfulfilled orders caused by component shortages. But its supply chain constraints eased rapidly about a year ago as China exited its lockdown strategy, leading to a glut of product deliveries over the last four quarters. Now, customers have their hands full implementing all of those products.
“Our customers and our sales organizations have been very clear with us over the last 90 days that this is the issue,” Robbins said, though he also admitted that sales cycles are still longer than is usually the case.
According to Robbins, “customers are now taking time to onboard and deploy these heightened product deliveries,” hence the slowdown in new orders. He said it’s mainly larger enterprises, service providers and cloud customers that are facing these challenges, adding that the issue was “most pronounced in October.” On average, Cisco’s biggest customers are waiting to implement one to two quarters’ worth of shipped products, he added.
Cisco had a good quarter, but is now suffering from its post pandemic high, when it was finally able to deliver pandemic orders it could not fulfill due to supply chain challenges. Now that it has fulfilled those orders, the demand has weakened as enterprises are implementing and the channel reducing inventories. The good news is all product lines are growing, which has not been too often the case, and Cisco delivered approximately 1B more in profit on roughly 1B more in revenue, which means Chuck Robbins and team have kept costs constant and EPS per share are up a quarter. Let’s see if this trends continues.
Because of these customer issues, Cisco could only offer a much lower forecast than Wall Street analysts had been anticipating. Officials said they’re looking for earnings of between 82 and 84 cents in the second quarter, with revenue of $12.6 billion to $12.8 billion, implying a 7% decline from one year earlier. That compares very badly with the Street’s forecast of 99 cents pre share in earnings and $14.19 billion in sales.
For the full year, Cisco is reducing its revenue forecast while bumping up its view on earnings. The company now sees full-year earnings of between $3.87 and $3.93 on revenue of $53.8 billion to $55 billion. Previously, it had forecast a range of $3.19 to $3.32 in earnings and $57.0 billion to $58.2 billion in revenue. In any case, the new forecast is not great, as Wall Street is hoping for earnings of $4.05 per share on sales of $57.7 billion.
The after-hours stock decline masks the fact that Cisco delivered strong quarterly results, thanks to it finally being able to deliver pandemic-era orders that could not be fulfilled earlier, said Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. “But now those orders have been shipped, it is faced with weakening demand as enterprise implement those products and the channel reduces inventories,” he explained.
Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. said Cisco has been caught on one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations”, because it did a great job in recovering from the pandemic-related supply chain chaos and has gotten back its manufacturing mojo. However, he said many of its customers have been slower off the mark. “Many are still struggling to deploy and configure the new kit they ordered months ago, so you can’t really blame them for slowing or stopping orders to deal with the backlog,” King said. “But investors appear to be blaming Cisco anyway, for failing to live up to analysts’ consensus. That may be short-sighted, but no one ever said that life, let alone the markets, are fair.”
In the longer term, Cisco’s prospects do look better. During the quarter, it announced that it intends to buy the data analytics and cybersecurity software giant Splunk Inc. in a bumper $28 billion deal, which would be its largest-ever acquisition. The move catapults Cisco, which is best known for its networking gear as well as other data center equipment, to the leading ranks of cybersecurity providers.
Robbins said at the time the deal was announced that the combination of Cisco’s and Splunk’s data would have real value for enterprises, allowing them to “move from threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention.” He said it will enable Cisco to become one of the world’s largest software companies.
Besides its cybersecurity ambitions, Cisco has a lot of hope for artificial intelligence in the longer term. During the conference call, Robbins told analysts that his company believes it can win more than $1 billion worth of orders in fiscal 2025 for AI infrastructure from cloud providers alone. He said cloud providers are looking to move to “more of a standard, broad-based technology like Ethernet, where they can have multiple sources” to support AI networking workloads.
Mueller said it’s also notable that Cisco is running a tight ship in terms of its business expenditures. “Investors can be pleased that all of Cisco’s product lines grew during the previous quarter, which has not been the case too often,” he added. “That allowed Cisco to deliver approximately $1 billion in profit on almost $15 billion in revenue. That shows Cisco has kept its cost base constant, resulting in increased earnings per share. Cisco needs to continue this trend.”
The after-hours stock decline means that Cisco’s shares are now up just 12% in the year-to-date, trailing the wider S&P 500 index, which is up 17% for the year.
Photo: Fortune GLOBAL FORUM/Flickr
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Cisco Partner Summit is the tech giant's premier gathering for the its colossal global channel partner base. This year, more than 2,000 partners descended onto Miami to learn about Cisco's latest innovations and to hear from the company's executive leadership team. From generative AI, to security and hybrid work, to the impending Splunk acquisition and the company's new global channel chief, here's what partners need to know from Cisco Partner Summit 2023.
New Cisco Channel Chief: Support Partner ‘Momentum,’ Grow ‘Absolutely Critical’ Managed Services
Cisco Partner Summit 2023: CEO, Channel Chief Weigh In On Splunk Deal, AI And Channel Culture
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins On AI, Splunk, And Why ‘The World Needs Companies That Care Today’
Cisco CX Partner Framework For MSPs ‘Moves Dial From Reactive, To Proactive, Predictive And Prescriptive’
Cisco Partner Experience Platform Reaches ‘Next Level’ With Growth, Profitability Feature Adds
Cisco’s Full Stack Observability Vision For $34B Market Includes Partner Innovation
Cisco Exec: Solution Specializations, New Incentives Will Align Partners With ‘Subscription Economy’
Cisco Crowns Rodney Clark New Global Channel Chief: Exclusive
An affiliate member of the ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware cartel has turned to malvertising techniques beloved of fraudsters to compromise its victims, masking its payloads as legitimate software downloads including Advanced IP Scanner, Cisco AnyCOnnect, Slack and WinSCP, and buying Google ads to lure in victims.
Historically, the group’s members use fairly standard methods of achieving initial access to its networks, either through stolen valid credentials, exploitation of remote management and monitoring services, and browser-based attacks.
The latest twist in BlackCat’s tale comes after researchers from eSentire’s Threat Response Unit (TRU) responded to a number of intrusions within its customer network in which unsuspecting business users were drawn to attacker-controlled websites via fake Google ads bought by the affiliate.
Once lured in, explained Keegan Keplinger, TRU senior threat researcher, the victims unwittingly downloaded not the product they thought they were getting, but the Nitrogen malware.
“Nitrogen is initial-access malware that leverages Python libraries for stealth,” explained Keplinger in a newly published disclosure blog. “This foothold provides intruders with an initial entry into the target organisation’s IT environment. Once the hackers have that initial foothold, they can then infect the target with the malware of their choosing.”
Nitrogen is so-named after an artefact found in the naming convention used by the ransomware operator. It is unique among initial access malwares in that it uses highly obfuscated Python libraries to skirt the victim’s security controls.
This is possible, said Keplinger, because Python libraries are legitimate tools – often known as living-off-the-land binaries or LoLBins – and typically do not raise suspicion. This also makes it more difficult for investigators to figure out what happened after an incident goes down.
In the incidents the TRU teams responded to, the activity was stopped before an real ransomware attack could be deployed.
However, warned Keplinger, because much security awareness training still centres malicious email attachments, browser-based malware downloads are gaining traction as an access vector, and this could be particularly damaging to organisations where end-users are free to download their own software.
“Organisations need to start including browser-based attacks, including those that use fake advertising, as part of user awareness training. Browser-based attacks are increasingly leading to hands-on ransomware intrusions and infostealers that enable ransomware intrusions later,” wrote Kepliner.
“Make sure you are implementing attack surface reduction rules around script files such as .js and .vbs, but keep in mind that when these attacks arrive in .ISO files, the ‘Mark of the Web’ is lost so Attack Surface Reduction rules won’t detect the files from the internet.”
“Employ endpoint monitoring to ensure you can catch malicious execution, when social engineering attacks bypass user scrutiny – and make sure that endpoint coverage is fully comprehensive. TRU has observed a tendency for ransomware attacks to make it further down the kill-chain when they begin on endpoints that are out of scope for endpoint monitoring.
“[Also] employ logging to ensure you are capturing telemetry – especially for devices and services that don’t support an endpoint agent, including VPN, device enrollment, and server software for applications that don’t generate endpoint telemetry, like Citrix, IIS, and cloud services,” he added.
Cisco has revealed new features, enhancements and tools for partners as it embarks on the biggest change to its incentive program.
The networking giant has initiated a significant evolution of its flagship incentives to reward partners for selling Cisco hardware, software, and as-a-service solutions. It is also adding six new solution specialisations within the next nine months.
The Cisco Partner Incentive will combine elements from several incentives such as VIP 42; CSPP and Lifecycle Incentives into one integrated view.
It will focus on rewarding partners with rebates to drive predictable and profitable growth and will specifically support new logo acquisition, up-sell, and cross-sell opportunities.
“The Cisco Partner Incentive is the biggest change we’ve made to partner incentives in more than a decade and is the capstone on the Cisco Partner Program evolution started in 2020,” Cisco vice president of partner strategy and programs Marc Surplus said.
“Our partners will make money in year one, they will also make money in year two and year three…. and that is what is driving their growth in their practices and more recurring revenue."
Specifically, the new incentive will cover three tracks - non-recurring offers; recurring offers and customer value.
Partners will earn rebates based on the total contract value of a closed sale, completion of activities to drive customer adoption of the solution, and incremental annual contract value as they increase subscriptions.
Additionally, partners will have the opportunity to earn bonus rewards-based investments in their Cisco practice or selling solutions.
The new model will also complement changes made to Cisco seller compensation and will be implemented in a phased approach and is expected to begin in the second half of 2024.
With a strong focus on partner profitability, Cisco launched a new Lifecycle Pay with Trade-In incentive where customers can receive up to 10 per cent off the monthly payment when they trade-in legacy Cisco or third-party equipment.
For Partners who are Environmental Sustainability Specialised, they can combine this customer incentive with other benefits such as the Takeback Incentive.
Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA) Pay has been further optimised by integrating EA financing directly into Cisco's quoting and ordering systems for rapid approvals.
Cisco Capital also expanded credit capacity by 21 per cent for partners taking part in the Channel Extended Terms Financing program.
The partner relationship management platform, PXP has been augmented with AI/ML-powered predictive insights and a revamped dashboard to provide a holistic view of funds activities and investments, removing the need for third-party tools.
PXP will also include a Sustainability Estimator, exclusively available to Environmental
Sustainability Specialised partners. Launching on 20 November, it will provide insight into the estimated energy savings, emissions reduction, cost reduction and environmental impact.
The tool is also supported by a new Sustainability Partner Journey with resources and collateral to help partners build their sustainability practices.
Capitalising on the MSP space
According to Cisco, managed services represent a total addressable market of US$161 billion for Cisco products as it anticipates 46 per cent of its sales will be sold as a managed service by 2027.
In order to enable MSPs to deliver a premium support experience, the networking vendor launched Partner Advanced Support for MSPs with guided access to API integrations that build on existing services.
It enables MSPs to offer faster, multi-product support, predictive insights, and issues resolution to scale an outcomes-based service model.
Furthermore, Cisco has also integrated its Lifecycle Advantage (LCA) into Cisco PX Cloud, streamlining the number of tools partners need to have a comprehensive view of their customer lifecycle data.
Cisco’s Small Business Specialisation has been refreshed and renamed the Small and Medium Business (SMB) Specialisation and showcases Cisco’s commitment to SMB customers
through end-to-end solutions from four primary experiences: Smart SMB, Hybrid SMB, Secure SMB, and Remote SMB.
Plans are also underway to launch two new Internet of Things (IOT) Solution Specialisations in the first half of 2024.
Julia Talevski attended Cisco Partner Summit 2023 as a guest of Cisco.
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