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Before 2018 ended, the EDGE360 editorial team asked our contributors for their take on the milestones within the Channel. As we kick off a New Year, we went back to this same team of contributors for their thoughts and predictions for 2019.

Reid Scrimgeour, a Comstor business development manager and our go-to source for all things Cisco Enterprise Networks and Mobility, pointed out that 2018 was a year of redefining and change. This was true for Comstor, due to the acquisition by SYNNEX, as well as for the industry, which was redefining networking as we know it. As Scrimgeour shared, innovation with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) played – and will continue to play – a significant role in how networks are being defined today.

As we shift our focus to the big trends in the new year, Scrimgeour shared with us how he expects the industry to evolve in the coming months. He places an emphasis on Intent-Based Networking, which leverages AI and ML innovations to create an environment where the network learns, adopts, and gets more secure and efficient over time. Read the full interview below:

EDGE360 Editors: Where do you see the big opportunities for VARs in 2019 in the areas of mobility and network infrastructure?

Reid Scrimgeour: As I mentioned in our talk about 2018, the Cisco Catalyst 9000 (Cat9K) Suite is a game changer for networking. It is redefining how we view the network and incorporating cutting-edge AI tools that help the network become more adaptive and efficient, which customers are starting to demand. As we move forward in 2019, Comstor is all-in with Cisco’s Cat9k initiative. For example, we are bringing the 9200 series into stock to make sure that our partners can take advantage of Cisco’s SD-WAN offering and to give them a way to replace the 2960’s series more quickly. We also are bringing the other Cat9k suites into stock, from the 93, 94, and 95 series. We soon will offer the 98 series along with them.

EDGE360 Editors: What technologies are going to make the biggest impact in the new year?

Scrimgeour: We are starting to see AI and Deep Learning (DL) becoming a focal point for our partners, and Cisco is making it a reality. We are seeing AI and DL incorporated not only into the data center, but into other architectures, as well. These include face recognition in collaboration, securities Stealthwatch, and the Cat9k’s ability to understand the business intent and continuously align to it. We will continue to see more applications of this innovation in 2019, and we’ll help our partners get up to speed on the technologies with the training and certifications they need.

EDGE360 Editors: For VARs looking to grow their Cisco practices in 2019, what should they be thinking about/working toward in the New Year?

Scrimgeour: For those partners looking to build their Cisco business, it really would behoove them to take part in our Progression Programs. To be successful, it is important to deepen your knowledge, maintain certifications, and look for ways to grow and extend your businesses. Our Progression Programs help you do just that, with free trainings and certifications. Our SURGE program, for example, focuses on enterprise networking, but we also have programs that cover all architectures. At Comstor, our goal is to make our partners successful. Since no partner is like another, we work with them to understand their needs, wants, and abilities. We then find a program that will fit their needs.

EDGE360 Editors: If 2018 was the year of “change,” as you stated previously, how would you define 2019?

Scrimgeour: 2019 will be the year of Intent-Based Networking. With the new rollout of Cisco’s Viptela SD-WAN’s business, it will be imperative for your network to keep up with the demand of advancing security threats, evolving IoT, and mobility and cloud integration. We are ready for this, and both Comstor and Cisco are ready to equip all of our partners with the tools they need to grow their business in this area.