Cisco Launches New 'Lucrative' Security Products, Services For Partners

Cisco is diving deeper into its "security everywhere" strategy for the cloud, networks and endpoints by launching new security products and services that look to drive partner profitability.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant is revealing its new Cisco Cloud Access Security (CAS), meant to give customers visibility and data security for cloud-based applications, as well as the new Threat Awareness Service, aimed at giving organizations threat visibility into their networks. Cisco is also enhancing its Identity Services Engine (ISE), creating ISE 2.0, which extends visibility and control for network and endpoints with new location access control through its integration with Cisco's Mobility Service Engine.

"The CAS offering is sure to drive a lot of interest, because it will give the organization visibility into places they simply couldn't see before," said Randy Olsson, vice president of Strategic Technology Group, Network and Security, at New York-based Presidio, a top Cisco partner ranked No. 21 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500 list. "The expansion of the pxGrid ecosystem will help us position ISE into more opportunities. … Cisco is heading in the right direction."

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ISE is also extending its security coverage through Cisco's pxGrid partner ecosystem with nine new partners: Check Point Software Technologies, Infoblox, Invincea, E8 Security, Hawk Defense, Huntsman Security, LogRhythm, SAINT and SOTI. Ecosystem partners can now share security telemetry bi-directionally between pxGrid partners.

Al Jacobellis, director of security solutions for Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization, said the new solutions provide rich services and revenue opportunities for channel partners.

"We know services are very profitable for our partners, and there is a big services attach rate around security," said Jacobellis in an interview with CRN. "ISE 2.0 is a very big opportunity for partners, because one thing about ISE is, it requires quite a bit of partner services -- whether its advisory, consultative implementation -- so there's big opportunities there."

Cisco is also enhancing its protection for AnyConnect and Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) Threat Grid. The company rolled out the addition of the Network Visibility Module to AnyConnect, which has more than 130 million users, to provide traffic flow and contextual data regarding users, applications, devices, locations and destinations.

"[This gives] customers the ability the get Net Flow data off the AnyConnect client," said CP Morey, senior director of product and solutions marketing for Cisco's Security Business Group, in an interview with CRN. "Before, maybe you had some basic flow data to look at, but what you get now is much more sophisticated in terms of the detail you see out of the flow. … There's partner opportunities here with anything that involves implementation, API integration -- it's new offerings to go in to customers, not only for product and solution but lucrative services as well."

Jacobellis said Cisco is allowing its channel partners to become trusted advisers, and that puts them at a "whole new level not only within IT, but across the lines of business."

The Threat Awareness Service is an assessment service that shows customers malicious behavior on their networks, and then gives suggestions on how they can fix the problem.

"This can be interesting for partners almost as a lead-in type tool," said Morey. "Partners can work with a client to use a service like this to help understand what's happening on their network, and whether or not there's some services that could go good with it to fix the problem."

The number of unauthorized cloud applications used by employees in the enterprise is 15 to 20 times higher than chief information officers predicted because of shadow IT, according to Cisco data. Cisco's new CAS offering will allow organizations to address this complexity as well as increase visibility and control over data in cloud applications, the company said.

For this solution, the networking leader partnered with Skyhigh Networks and Elastica to deliver increased visibility into hidden applications that employees might bring onto the network, and the ability to set security policies that tailor application usage and user behavior to align with company policies.

"We've doubled down on our partnership with Elastica, and now have a full integration of that technology into one of our products," said Morey.

"There's a great opportunity for partners to help customers understand, what is that data policy, what should it look like, what ... information is suitable to be stored in the cloud, what's not? It's policy development, design, implementation services that are valuable to partners here," said Morey.

Cisco recently revealed its plan to purchase security threat analysis and protection company Lancope for $452.5 million to extend its "Security Everywhere" strategy. The privately held Alpharetta, Ga.-based security vendor provides network behavior analytics, threat visibility and security intelligence.

In June, Cisco bought cloud-based security specialist OpenDNS for $635 million. Cisco said OpenDNS Investigate global threat intelligence product now features a new search functionality that can uncover shared attacker infrastructure, find newly registered domains that are used to impersonate brand websites and identify other patterns in targeted attacks.

"Our customers will benefit from these acquisitions and third-party integrations and it will open new opportunities for us," said Presidio's Olsson. "Cisco has the broadest security portfolio, and when you include how the network can contribute to security, no competitor can match their approach."

The new solutions tied to its Security Everywhere strategy creates new profitable business opportunities for partners by addressing customers' security challenges across the entire IT infrastructure and extended network.

The differentiator Cisco has over other security vendors is that its architecture embeds security across the extended network -- routers, switches and the data center -- significantly reducing the time to detection and remediation, according to Jacobellis.

"When partners can go out and sell services and do a design, they're able to differentiate themselves [from] somebody just going out saying, 'Here's a product and a price,' " said Jacobellis. "With these solutions, partners can say, 'Here's the challenge in your business and here's how we can solve that.' "

Cisco also said its made "significant investments" to help partners grow their Cisco Security business through a joint go-to-market approach, training and skills-development workshops.

Jacobellis says its partner community have been building Cisco security practices "pretty aggressively" based on the hot market and customer needs.

"One thing unique to Cisco with security everywhere is that we have a solution that goes across more than just the security architecture but integration into a data center, Internet of Things, the enterprise network -- which includes wireless -- a lot of our partners have significant investments in those architectures, and we're going to continue to invest here to keep that positive momentum and traction going," said Jacobellis.