Cisco Security Exec: Vendors Like Palo Alto, FireEye Are Selling 'Legacy Technology'

Cisco is more bullish than ever on security, saying it will fundamentally change the market and that competitors are selling "legacy technology."

At Cisco Partner Summit 2016 last week in San Diego, David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Security Business Group, said Cisco is beating other vendors that can't compete with its holistic security approach, such as imbedding security throughout its new Digital Network Architecture and innovative technology like the new Cisco Firepower Next-Generation Firewall, which includes its Advanced Malware Protection (AMP).

Cisco reported having more than 10,800 total AMP customers and said it is now outpacing competitors FireEye and Palo Alto Networks in the space.

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"This is game-changing innovation, and for anybody else selling anybody else's firewall out there, … you're going to be selling legacy technology to your customers," said Goeckeler, during his keynote on stage after displaying numbers showing Cisco's lead over FireEye and Palo Alto Networks in AMP customers. "The best innovation and the fastest portfolios are happening right here at Cisco. … Cisco took over the No. 1 position as the security vendor in the industry."

Chris Dedicoat, executive vice president of Cisco's worldwide sales, told partners that the security market is "incredibly fragmented" and Cisco is building a security portfolio "above anybody else in the marketplace."

"We're going to spend money, invest heavily to make sure we have the very best security capability of anybody in this marketplace, and together with you, we will have the most powerful security organization on the planet -- we will, and you will see us, truly as a security company," said Dedicoat.

Coming off an 11 percent surge in its security business for its second fiscal quarter, Goeckeler said Cisco's security portfolio is growing 180 percent year over year with security becoming the most profitable space now for its partner community.

Phil Mogavero, vice president of Advanced Technology Group network solutions and regional chief technology officer at El Segundo, Calif.-based PCM -- a $1.5 billion technology integrator that partners with Cisco, HPE and Symantec -- said he was surprised to see Cisco become a market leader so quickly, but says Cisco's holistic security approach is a "very compelling" story that's "taking hold" with customers.

"Customers are trying to get threat protection from one [vendor] and getting products from another place, and the end result is they're falling short," said Mogavero, whose company is ranked No. 29 on the CRN 2015 Solution Provider 500 list.

He said PCM's Cisco security business is witnessing a 35 percent year-over-year growth, in part because customers don't want to have dozens of security point product vendors, which can be difficult to manage.

"Cisco's new solutions are fully integrated, integrated in threat management and integrated in the network. So it protects every endpoint, every device from beginning to end in real time," said Mogavero. "It's really breakthrough technology, especially when you mix it with their new networking DNA strategy."

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking leader last week revealed its new software, service-centric architecture DNA, delivered within the Cisco One Software suite.

Cisco advanced security solutions are available for partners to sell inside Cisco One, which includes new Cloud Access Security, Threat Awareness Service, an enhanced Identity Services Engine, Network-as-a-Sensor, Network-as-an-Enforcer and technology gained from last year's acquisition of Lancope, which specializes in threat analysis protection.

Cisco also acquired OpenDNS, a provider of advanced threat protection; and Watford, England-based consultancy Portcullis Computer Security. Security has become so important to Cisco that it even created a security-focused role for former CEO John Chambers.

Cisco channel chief Wendy Bahr said security is the most profitable area for its channel partners because of the high-margin services that security drives.

"We know that vendors and customers want fewer vendors -- they are overwhelmed by the number of security vendors they have to deal with, but want companies that have greater capabilities," said Bahr, on stage during in front of more than 2,200 partners at Partner Summit. "What we bring to the table is not just best of breed, but that threat-centric, integrated architecture that can protect the network end to end."

In a 2016 Piper Jaffray CIO Survey, Cisco was the most preferred security vendor, capturing 18 percent, up from 12 percent the year before. Symantec came in second, at 16 percent, dropping from 20 percent in 2015. Intel/McAfee placed third, at 14 percent, followed by Palo Alto Networks at 12 percent, then FireEye, with 7 percent.

In a recent Barclays Survey, chief information officers were asked to select the top three security vendors that would likely see the largest percentage of increase in spending from their company over the next 12 months. Cisco was ranked No. 1, followed by Symantec, then FireEye.

Cisco's bullish security comments came during the same week as the 2016 RSA Conference in San Francisco, where hundreds of security vendors were gathered.

"There are over 500 vendors at RSA. There's enormous amount of technology in the industry," said Cisco's Goeckeler. "The problem is, we have all that innovation, but all those point products are just being delivered to customers, and they're having to integrate all this technology themselves, and the complexity that leads to is overwhelming the innovation that the products deliver."

The networking giant's goal is to nab 20 percent to 30 percent of the $25 billion enterprise security infrastructure market over time. Throughout partner summit this year, Cisco executives reinforced the theme that security is the company's top priority.

"Cisco is completely committed to changing the security market. We are changing it with the approach we're taking," said Goeckeler. "The opportunity for [partners] in this space is incredible."