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Cisco Blankets Security Across Entire Network

Mark Haranas

Cisco is blanketing its entire network infrastructure with security.

The networking giant unveiled new offerings Monday during its Cisco Live training conference in San Diego, Calif., that embed security "everywhere" throughout the extended network by adding more sensors to increase visibility, more control points to strengthen enforcement, and spreading advanced threat protection across the infrastructure to reduce detection and response time when an attack occurs.

"We want to look at the network in a new role," said Brian Korn, senior marketing manager of product and solutions at Cisco. "Its role is to both give us visibility into the threats in our networks from a sensor perspective and the ability to manage access in the network and shrink that attack surface."

[Related: Cisco Gets Serious About Security, Calls Out Palo Alto, Check Point]

Security was a major focus during the Cisco Partner Summit 2015 in April, as executives said the networking giant will redefine and win the security market. Cisco unveiled the full integration of its ACI software-defined networking technology with its FirePower next-generation intrusion prevention system.

Cisco continued its security push on Monday at Cisco Live by integrating security to deliver better control and greater threat visibility into the farthest reaches of the enterprise and global service provider infrastructures -- from the data center out to endpoints, branch offices and the cloud -- while at the same time giving partners new ways to generate revenue through hardware, software and services, said Korn.

"We're well beyond the firewall at this point," said Randy Olsson, vice president of Strategic Technology Group, Network and Security, at Presidio, a Cisco Gold partner. "Instead of putting in a network then saying, 'Maybe we should add a firewall or [an Intrusion Prevention System],' Cisco is putting security at the forefront of this whole thing and designing something that's secure from the beginning that makes it easier for us to sell to customers."

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is integrating its Firepower security services into Cisco's Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) and spreading AnyConnect -- the company's enterprise-class threat protection, advanced malware detection, intrusion detection and prevention -- out to more points in the network featuring Advanced Malware Protection (AMD) for endpoints.

To increase visibility and control via the network, Cisco is focusing on using the network as a "sensor and enforcer." Cisco has embedded multiple security technologies into its network infrastructure to provide broader threat visibility to better identify users and devices associated with threats and misuse of networks and applications.

New capabilities include integration between Cisco's TrustSec security technology, the company's Identity Services Engine (ISE) -- a security policy management platform that unifies and automates secure network access control -- and Lancope StealthWatch, enabled via its partnership with Alpharetta, Ga.-based networking vendor Lancope.

Cisco also launched a new incentive promotion for Network-as-a-Sensor bundles giving partners an additional 10 percent discount.


The networking giant is also tying its NetFlow into Cisco UCS [Unified Computing System], which will provide greater visibility into network traffic patterns and threat intelligence information in the data center.

"We got the network out there, so let's start using it, specifically the network as a sensor to detect what's going on in the network to give you the visibility," said Korn. "It provides very rich network information all the way down to the virtual machines so I can capture east-west attacks that happen in the data center and capture NetFlow information all the way across the enterprise network. … The 'enforcer' part is all about network segmentation -- taking the network and using it to contain attacks when [they] takes place."

Cisco Monday also unveiled a new FirePower 9300 Integrated Security Platform, a carrier-grade, scalable and modular multi-services platform built for service providers, according to Korn.

Another new introduction from the networking giant is the cloud-delivered Hosted Identity Services for ISE.

"Hosted Identity Services provides rich context that can be used for the policies deployed on your network and it lets you get to the identity behind the device and user," said Korn. "We're taking it to the cloud, running it as a service. You'll now have the choice of running ISE on-premise or delivering ISE in the cloud as a service."

Finally, Cisco is expanding its advanced orchestration and cloud capabilities to enable new Security-as-a-Service solutions.

"There are huge opportunities for partners with everything here," said Al Jacobellis, director of worldwide partner strategy and security solutions at Cisco. "With security being a services-led sale, they got an opportunity here for implementation services, advisory services, various professional services, integration services, network assessments, consulting -- there's a lot of opportunity for higher profitability."

Jacobellis said partners can differentiate themselves from competitors by offering customers the option of a single vendor who can deliver an end-to-end solution.

"It addresses the fact that customers don't want 42 vendors anymore, they want one vendor that can bring a secure environment to them. ... It's a great differentiator from others in the market that can only solve one part of the problem," said Jacobellis.

As the number of cybercrimes increase with more connected devices, businesses are seeking solutions with minimal complexity that can span across their network, which is why Cisco is positioning itself to become the one-stop-shop security solution, said Korn.


IDC says Cisco is currently the No.1 network security company in the world, holding a 21.3 percent market share. Trailing Cisco is Check Point Software Technologies at No. 2 with around 15 percent market share, followed by Fortinet at 6.7 percent.

"Cisco is sticking together what they already have and what they've created, which gives them really great visibility and great threat defense all the way from the endpoint through the network, the data center, and all the way out to the distributed enterprise, the branch office -- that's pretty brilliant," said Christina Richmond, an analyst at IDC. "It's a good opportunity in terms of additional monetary uplift for the channel to be able to resell these services and to provide their own services wrapped around some of these capabilities."

Olsson said Cisco is putting security on the forefront of networking.

"[Security] wasn't front and center for a while, but Cisco's definitely showing they're willing to make the investment necessary to make Cisco No. 1 in security," said Olsson. "What we're seeing from Cisco is [they're] getting very serious about security, with security everywhere. They're looking at AMP at the desktop, Netflow throughout the network, TrustSec to set up your policies and make it easy to define and enforce. ... What Cisco can offer, that is very tough for any of their competitors, is their end-to-end picture."

PUBLISHED JUNE 8, 2015

Mark Haranas

Mark Haranas is an assistant news editor and longtime journalist now covering cloud, multicloud, software, SaaS and channel partners at CRN. He speaks with world-renown CEOs and IT experts as well as covering breaking news and live events while also managing several CRN reporters. He can be reached at mharanas@thechannelcompany.com.

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