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

‘There’s no question that everybody knows we’re a networking giant. But we want to be known in the same breath from a security point of view as we move forward,’ says Cisco security sales leader Emma Carpenter.


Cisco security sales leader Emma Carpenter

Networking is synonymous with Cisco Systems and the tech giant wants the same for security as it works to tie its strength in networking into a packaged deal with cybersecurity, according to a roundtable of Cisco security and channel executives.

“There’s no question that everybody knows we’re a networking giant. But we want to be known in the same breath from a security point of view as we move forward,” said Emma Carpenter, global security sales leader for Cisco. “We have to make sure that we’re looking at this from an end-to-end perspective—the network and security coming together for the best of our customers through our partners.”

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco last year revealed plans to unify its security portfolio, which has historically consisted of point products. The company in June unveiled Cisco Security Cloud, a unified, open-standards-based platform for security across hybrid and multi-cloud environments. Since then, Cisco has been working behind the scenes to develop and improve on its security products—at times via acquisitions—while bringing them into a single platform.

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“It’s easy to sometimes wonder, ‘Are we actually going to deliver on this?’ The answer is absolutely, with bells on, and the reason we’re going to deliver is because not only have we put the people on this and we are tracking this on a week-by-week basis, we’re actually reporting up to our CEO Chuck [Robbins] on an every-three-week basis. How are we doing from a Security Cloud perspective on that platform approach to bring all of these capabilities together?” Carpenter said.

[Related: Cisco To Scoop Up Lightspin In Second Cloud Security Purchase Of 2023]

About 81 percent of the world’s internet traffic crosses a Cisco switch, offering up a large amount of data and intelligence that can be used to help keep businesses proactive on possible threats or bad actors, according to Cisco.

It’s that leadership within networking that is Cisco’s biggest advantage in the security market, said Shawn Yuskaitis, security director, global partner and routes to market for Cisco.

The company is leveraging its long legacy in the networking space to engage with partners and end customers in security, he said.

“We’re re-energizing everybody and it’s not just the partners [or] security sellers within Cisco. We are making sure that everybody understands our story [and] understands our offers. And we are bringing this to market with increased momentum like you’ve never seen before,” Yuskaitis said.

Cisco’s security teams are working to simplify cybersecurity while making it more profitable for partners, Carpenter said. Key to the tech giant’s security strategy is making sure everyone—Cisco’s sales teams and partners alike—are selling security.

“We’re successful by making sure the rest of our organization is selling security. And most importantly, we’re successful by enabling our partners in the right way so that they are front and center, which is where they are day to day with their customer base, making sure security, as well as the network, is absolutely front and center for them,” she said.

Reducing Complexity

Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s senior vice president of global partner sales and general manager of routes to market, said that most SMB customers use up to six different tools to manage IT security. For enterprises, that number can balloon to 50 to 100 different security tools from at least 20 different vendors, a key driver related to the ongoing issue of IT complexity, according to Cisco’s research.

Like buying a car, businesses and partners shouldn’t be “piecemealing” a cybersecurity approach together with point solutions, Tuszik said. This is where Cisco’s security platform bolstered by the company’s networking data feeding into the platform comes into play.

“What are the best brakes, the best steering wheel, the best engine, [ect.]? If you do that, you’ll see tons of different companies having [a product] where they are exceptional. But if you bought a car this way, you’d never end up with a car you could drive that you built from the best pieces in the industry. But that’s what companies are doing right now with security,” he said.

Businesses don’t need individual pieces of the security solution, they need an “up and running” platform, Tuszik said.

“I think Cisco is in a unique and prime position to be a top partner. The way that you can acquire [Cisco] technology and bundle it into a platform play, that becomes a very compelling value proposition for our customers,” said Ryan Sheehan, senior vice president of advanced solutions for Somerset, N.J.-based SHI International, a longtime Cisco partner.

The Cisco Security Cloud platform, said Cisco, will continually be developed for the next several years.