In common with NASA, Cisco invests heavily in R&D, spending $6.3 billion annually on new networking and security technologies. It’s a shared cultural asset that will help the company in its endeavours to assist the US space agency’s digital transformation – and future missions.
Jeff Scheaffer is vice president of product and strategy at Cisco, focusing on software-defined networking (SDN) transformation. These networks, Scheaffer says, “are much more flexible environments – they're better suited to ensuring application experience because software defined networks are more rapidly and flexibly reconfigurable, which improves our agility and our ability to respond to application quality of service and security issues.”
SDNs are also able to leverage the intelligence of the network for heightened security and increased trust. “With software defined networks, we're able to keep a continuous innovation cycle running, maintaining the latest capabilities in terms of either networking standards or being able to respond to new threat vectors,” says Scheaffer. “The infrastructure upon which we all rely is not only delivering the application experience, it allows us to respond quickly and with agility, ensure trust and it’s more cost efficient to operate. That supports all of the main goals of the business.”
With NASA, Cisco is a key partner in the digital transformation journey. Scheaffer thinks of it as unlocking the “global human potential” in the agency, its people and partners. “We’re looking at how digital transformation allows us to rethink and reimagine the way we’re going to accomplish the mission and express the NASA promise. We look to change the experience through applications. Digitisation allows us to completely change the way we work.” Post-Covid-19, that involves support for hybrid working and Cisco is also challenging complexities that change the way we “compete with time” to confer an operating advantage. “It’s really big,” Scheaffer adds.
Data is – obviously – core to the joint missions of NASA and Cisco. As a networking provider, Cisco has a deep understanding of its AI stack and the foundational importance of data to a digital economy. “We really pride ourselves on the idea that it's built-in, not bolted on,” Scheaffer says.
Cisco supports NASA’s six core ‘thrusts’: data and insight centric; focused on collaboration; culture and workforce; “model-based anything”; AI and machine learning; and process transformation. These thrusts are “completely integrated” into NASA’s transformation architecture. Scheaffer describes Cisco’s programme for NASA as “laser focused” on achieving NASA’s mission.
“It's been a phenomenal partnership as we work with NASA to identify the next set of needs to drive the next generation of product innovation cycles. We're thrilled to be partners and to support NASA and all of the collaboration and the benefit that comes from that partnership.
“We're really excited in partnership with NASA to be able to focus on using that investment to help us to create comprehensive, flexible, digitised infrastructure – real-world and real time analytics – in order to provide better experiences, agility, and trust.”