TubbTalk 104: Cloud Networking, Cybersecurity and Cisco

Richard Tubb and Michelle Ragusa-McBain

An Interview with Michell Ragusa-McBain Richard Tubb and Michelle Ragusa-McBain

Michelle Ragusa-McBain is the Global Lead and Channel Community Evangelist for MSP and XaaS at Cisco. And, Michelle is a former chair of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in Technology community and a driving force in the industry. 

How Cisco Have Evolved as an MSP Partner

Michelle says that when she started her career, Cisco was focused on switching and routing. However, in recent years they’ve made acquisitions to support their MSP partners. They have something for everybody, and want to earn the trust of the community.

Cisco have an advisory council of partners who tell them what the MSPs need: “Security is number one, and marketing is second. We have an incredible security stack, and we have entry-level options for smaller businesses.” 

Cisco Remote Cloud Tools

As a result of the feedback from MSPs, Cisco have worked hard to develop three remote cloud tools to give them exactly what they need. Meraki allows MSPs to act as the ‘virtual CIO’ for their clients. They can monitor client networks and keep things running.

Second, Cisco offer a two-factor authentication (2FA) tool, called Duo. Michelle explains that it’s convenient and easy to use: “You can even use it on your Apple Watch. You’re asked for a passcode every time you log into a private domain, or it sends you a push notification. You approve it and log in straight away.”

Finally, Umbrella provides open DNS. It’s pay per user, month on month. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and both MSPs and end users love it. And it can be used for anything stored in the cloud.

What's new at @Cisco? How are they helping their #IT partners in terms of #cloud and #cybersecurity? @MichelleRagusa explains all to Richard Tubb. Click to Tweet

What is XaaS?

XaaS is the next step after SaaS (software as a service) and stands for either ‘everything as a service’ or ‘anything as a service.’ Many MSPs are already selling software or subscriptions, and XaaS allows them to widen their scope.

It applies to any IT function, including remote or in the cloud. Michelle adds that customers are becoming more informed about what their IT partners can do for them. So, you need to provide an easy, helpful solution that means they choose you over your competitors. 

This detailed explanation of XaaS might also be helpful!

MSP-Focused Resources and Events from Cisco

In the next year or so, Cisco are planning to attend more events as well as adding more resources to their content libraries. Wherever possible, they try to share replays of their webinars and events.

“I now run a monthly webinar which is available to all our partners. We look at topics such as marketing, M&As, cybersecurity and business growth. We want to hear from the MSPs, so we can give them what they need. And we’re going to be at a lot of in-person events around the world. This is a great way for partners to meet us.”

How the MSP Space Has Changed

While Michelle says the industry has changed since she first joined, things have moved on rapidly in the last couple of years. “There’s been an insane number of mergers and acquisitions. And so many people have seen double digit growth during the pandemic.

“The other thing is that employees now feel able to say that they’re not happy in a role or even location. There’s a unique opportunity for MSPs to build a roadmap for the future. And to find a scalable solution that supports hybrid working for their clients and their employees.”

How Attitudes to Women in Tech Have Changed  

While Cisco was always an equal opportunity company, the tech space as a whole has always been male-dominated. Michelle says we need diversity, “Because diversity makes the best products, solutions. It resembles your customers, who are also diverse and inclusive.”

She says that things are shifting, and CompTIA’s work has been key to this. But there’s still not enough women and girls studying STEM subjects or looking for careers in tech. “We need to encourage them, and we need managers to be comfortable with mentoring them. They can help to use technology to change our world.”

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