Cisco Launches Secure Data Center, Partners Skeptical

Cisco aims to beef up its security efforts by "injecting" it into the release of its new Secure Data Center, but partners say it's doubtful customers would be enthused.

As the name implies, the Secure Data Center touts a bigger dose of security baked into the fabric of its architecture. Altogether, the Secure Data Center incorporates firewall and IPS with Cisco's ASA 5585-X Adaptive security, Web and remote endpoint security with Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Solution, cloud-based reputation services with Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) and a virtual component with Cisco's Virtual Security Gateway for Cisco Nexus 1000V Series Switches.

Among other things, executives said that the new release offers enhanced speed and agility and beefed up real-time security, which also spans into virtual environments. It can provision hundreds of new applications and millions of new sessions, that can be accessed by personal and business devices.

Cisco's release comes in response to rapidly changing trends that include a dramatic increase in users and a barrage of complex and resource-intensive Web 2.0 applications along with a myriad of personal consumer devices used in the enterprise, executives say.

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Meanwhile, virtual environments have gained traction in the enterprise while end-user's data is increasingly stored on both physical and cloud-based platforms.

Tom Gillis, vice president and general manager of Cisco security technology business unit, said that the Secure Data Center release is the "second big thrust" of the company's Borderless Networks Architecture concept it introduced in 2009, that aimed to comprehensively secure remote, mobile and stationary workers on an array of work-issued and consumer devices.

"Networks are changing and security systems are much more distributed than today," Gillis said.

Subsequently, Gillis said that two big draws for the Secure Data Center is a new architecture that "injects" security, along with greatly increased performance density that executives claim is around eight times greater than its competitors.

NEXT: Partners Weigh In

Specifically, the Cisco ASA release touts 350,000 connections per second, hardware that can deliver eight million concurrent connections and up to 10,000 VPN sessions and integrated services chassis that can be added as needed.

However, some Cisco channel partners say that the energy efficiency piece will likely do little to sway customers to implement a costly data center while still trying to make ends meet in the midst of the recession.

Tim Carney, CEO of Network Guys, a Fremont, Calif.-based solution provider, said that his curiosity was piqued, and he looked forward to services opportunities, but he didn't anticipate that a lot of customers would be interested.

"It depends on the size of the network. If they have upgrades pending, you're talking big bucks. There're still a lot of people who would say that 'this is nice to have but I can get by without it,'" he said. "Unless they've got funding set aside, it's not an imminent project."

The Secure Data Center launch comes with a slew of other switching, routing, mobility and security releases, which included the refreshed AnyConnect 3.0 that expanded endpoint security with IPSEC VPN and ScanSafe cloud security support for mobile deployments. Other channel partners were a little more skeptical of Cisco's release.

"What it sounds like is marketing fluff," said Andrew Plato, president of Beaverton, Ore.-based Anitian Enterprise Security. "What it translates to, who knows?"