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Cisco CTO: Security, Big Data Analytics Services Poised To Boom In The Channel

Security and big data are two big areas of focus for Cisco Systems, and one of its top executives says partners with the skills to deliver services in these areas are going to do well.

The Internet of Things is a massive market opportunity, and solution providers with the skills to deliver security and big data analytics services will play vital roles in unlocking the technology's vast potential.

ePlus, the $1 billion solution provider that's holding its national sales kickoff meeting in Chicago this week, is particularly well-positioned to capitalize on IoT business, Padmasree Warrior, chief strategy and technology officer at Cisco Systems, said in a keynote at the event Tuesday.

In Cisco's view, the next decade will be all about networked connections among all kinds of things that aren't PCs, which use sensors to continually gather data and feed it back to a central repository. From there, these massive data stores can be analyzed and used to improve business processes, Warrior said.

[Related: Cisco's Rob Lloyd On How HP 'Starved' Innovation, Mega Deals And $125M IoE Strategy]

Although the IoT has great promise, it also makes security more complicated because it amounts to a dramatic expansion of the network. Cisco's challenge, Warrior said, is about taking the security and intelligence it has built into its network infrastructure and extending that to devices and endpoints.

Cisco is tackling this challenge by adding more visibility into its network, Warrior said. "We have to help customers see what's happening in their infrastructure, so they can apply the right technology to protect against malware and threats," she said in the keynote.

Continuous monitoring of networks, and a more platform-based approach to security, are other ways Cisco is addressing IoT challenges, according to Warrior.

Lee Waskevich, national security practice director at ePlus, Herndon, Va., said the Internet of Things makes it more important than ever for organizations to pay attention to security.

One big issue with IoT is data security. "All of this data now is available to the bad guys just as well as the data analytics portion, so keeping that out of the wrong hands is critical," Waskevich told CRN.

Securing IoT sensors, which often run embedded operating systems that don't have patch management, is another key consideration, according to Waskevich.

"Taking control of these pieces is critical from a security standpoint," Waskevich said. "When you're dealing with utilities and process control networks, if you can pop those things, you can do some serious damage to critical infrastructure."

But security is just part of the puzzle with the IoT. Warrior said analytics is another big priority for Cisco, which estimates that this represents $7.3 trillion of the overall $19 trillion IoT market.

By using analytics, customers can get a better view of trends within their IoT data stores and make more informed decisions on business process changes, said Warrior.

So while having data is helpful, Cisco partners that also have analytics capability will be well-positioned to help customers get value from their IoT investments, Warrior said.

"The conversation is now about what customers can do with the data. We need to shift it to talk more about analytics," said Warrior.


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