Cisco Builds On Security Platform Strategy, Unveils Unified Networking Platform

Following in the footsteps of its Security Cloud platform, the tech giant debuts its Cisco Networking Cloud strategy at Cisco Live 2023 to the delight of channel partners.


Cisco Systems is taking a page out of its security book by introducing Cisco Networking Cloud, a platform approach to managing the entire on-premises and cloud-based networking environment, at Cisco Live 2023.

The tech giant last June unveiled Cisco Security Cloud, the company’s security plan for the future that includes a unified, open-standards-based platform for securely connecting people, applications and devices located anywhere. Now San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is doing the same thing on the networking front with Cisco Networking Cloud.

“Cisco owns the network,” said Chris Konrad, area vice president of global cyber for St. Louis-based Cisco Gold partner World Wide Technology.

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Customers are looking to consolidate and reduce technical debt by moving to a platform approach for their IT needs, he added. “For us, it’s a big deal. It gives us an opportunity to go in and have a new conversation with [customers] about consolidation,” Konrad said.

[Related: Cisco Security Execs On Bringing Networking, Cybersecurity To Market With Momentum ‘Like You’ve Never Seen Before’]

The company’s vision for Cisco Networking Cloud is to make managing networks easier by converging its disparate offerings over time to create a unified network management platform that works on-premises and in the cloud, Rebecca Stone, senior vice president of customer solutions marketing and CMO of Cisco Meraki, told CRN.

Cisco Networking Cloud is being driven in part by the success of the cloud-based Meraki portfolio, as well as Cisco’s core Catalyst portfolio, Stone said.

“[It’s about] wanting to make sure that our customers can use both of those methodologies in how they think about deploying their networks in a way that fits them, rather than maybe the siloed way that they’ve approached it in the past,” she said. “The idea here is to help unify things so that as IT, they can deploy things faster with more automation and simplicity in the use of the tools, which allows them to focus their energy on delivering a better experience to their customers.”

Cisco Networking Cloud won’t just simplify things from the customer’s perspective, it’s also a benefit to partners, Stone said.

“Both partners and customers are [saying], ‘Simplify the tools that you’re selling to us, simplify how we buy from you, and then help us to understand the outcomes and how your tools fit in the outcomes that we’re looking for,’” she said. “Just selling them the tools without giving them the solution for how to pull all these things together into one experience isn’t working for them.”

Taking a platform approach to networking will open the door for channel partners to have tighter integration between security and network infrastructure, said Lane Irvine, network business solutions director for Vancouver, British Columbi-based Cisco Gold partner Long View Systems.

“Even as a managed services partner, we kind of have two different views of the environments—you don’t have that single view. I think this allows us ... to see a much better opportunity to create a more integrated platform across security and networking,” Irvine said.

The first steps toward progress on the Cisco Networking Cloud strategy include a few features that the company rolled out Tuesday, including single sign-on to simplify access across Cisco networking platforms, an API key exchange/repository that when linked with single sign-on can make it easier for disparate Cisco networking platforms to connect and exchange data through automation, cross-platform navigation and a common user interface across Cisco networking platforms, according to the company.

Cisco’s efforts to simplify networking also include some rebranding and expanded licensing options. Cisco’s Viptela-powered SD-WAN offering is now branded as Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN. The company said that its Cisco Catalyst switch line now combines hardware and software support into a single subscription.