Chambers: More Tech Partnerships, Acquisitions On Cisco's Horizon

“The only way to solve security problems is through partnering,” Chambers said in a keynote address at the RSA Conference 2006 in San Jose, Calif. Cisco is bulking up its vendor partnerships, particularly around its Network Admission Control (NAC) strategy, for which the company has 65 technology partners, up from 30 last year, he said.

Cisco also plans to keep building its technology portfolio through acquisitions, according to Chambers. “Last year at this time, we had 12 acquisitions. We&'ve done three more this year. You&'ll see that [strategy] continue for probably the next decade,” he said.

Solution provider partnerships, too, remain critical to the rollout of Cisco&'s Intelligent Information Strategy, Chambers said Tuesday in an interview with CRN.

“The key issue for us … is to transform beyond just selling ‘equipment&' and installing and making it work to saying, how do you add value and add services on it, how do you help customers implement it in a shorter time period than they would have traditionally done, how do you help them move onto the business applications, how do you help them differentiate this new era for the network?” Chambers said. “Bottom line is there&'s probably never been a better time to be a Cisco partner,” he added.

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As the network becomes the platform for application and service delivery, it can provide huge competitive advantages to customers, “but a huge disadvantage if there is an interruption,” making pervasive network security a key piece of the story, Chambers noted. Over time, a rising number of security features now offered as point products will move into the network and become more transparent, he said.

For its part, Cisco demonstrated several new products released at the conference this week. The new offerings include Cisco Security Manager, a tool that lets customers set security policies and automatically push them out to all devices on the network, and the Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response System (MARS), which correlates security events from multiple network devices.

During the demonstration, Cisco said it plans to enable all of its devices to communicate and collaborate with each other to automatically lock down machines in the face of security threats.