Partners Pumped As Cisco Beefs Up Security Around Meraki, Routers

Partners say the sky's the limit for Cisco's security business as the networking giant continues its strong push in the security market with the launch of new solutions leveraging technologies gained from recent acquisitions.

At Cisco Live in Las Vegas on Monday, Cisco said it has tightly integrated technology it acquired from its purchases of Lancope and OpenDNS to boost security capabilities in product lines such as Cisco Meraki and Integrated Services Routers (ISR).

"I love that Cisco has recognized that they've made these great acquisitions in security and are now doing what they should be doing – integrating them under one single platform to tie it all together," said Ron Temske, vice president of Security Solutions for solution provider Logicalis, a New York City-based Cisco partner ranked No. 30 on the CRN Solution Provider 500. "It's more tools in our security tool bag to have a more holistic architectural conversation with customers. I don't think anybody in the [security] market is doing as much holistically as what Cisco is doing."

[Related: 7 New Security Systems Cisco Partners Can Bank On]

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Channel partners are hailing the new technologies as further proof that Cisco is leading the innovation charge in the security market through the ability to provide end-to-end systems that rivals can't compete with.

Mark Melvin, CTO of ePlus Technology, a Herndon, Va.-based solution provider and Cisco partner ranked No. 34 on CRN's SP500, said customers no longer want the burden of managing, monitoring and maintaining dozens of security point-products from different vendors in their IT environment.

"Cisco's approach from looking at security across the overall architecture of the enterprise versus point solutions is want customers want – a more comprehensive way to protect their environment," said Melvin. "They're winning more security share and re-establishing themselves as a security company."

For its recent third fiscal quarter, Cisco's security business increased 17 percent year-over-year to $482 million. It was the company's second straight quarter of double-digit growth in security-related revenue.

Cisco unveiled several products and services on Monday that partners can take to market including a new cloud-based management application, Cisco Defense Orchestrator, and the integration of OpenDNS's Umbrella security services into Cisco's ISR routers and its virtual private network system AnyConnect.

ISR routers are also being integrated with new threat detection Stealthwatch technology gained from its acquisition of Lancope last year.

"We're making the ISR an extremely effective security device," said Ben Munroe, senior product marketing manager for Cisco's Security Business, in an interview with CRN. "Umbrella sees more than 2 percent of the Internet traffic globally. That's service opportunities right there for the channel."

The new Cisco Defense Orchestrator is a cloud-based management application allowing customers to easily and effectively manage a large security infrastructure and policies across distributed locations in thousands of devices through a cloud-based console, says Munroe. Partners said the orchestrator simplifies the complexity of managing security policies across Cisco's product portfolio.

Cisco is also adding its Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and Threat Grid malware analysis and threat intelligence technology – gained from the 2014 acquisition of ThreatGRID – to its Meraki MX appliance.

"We are bringing together the AMP and Meraki franchises. The MX platform is now going to be able to connect and use AMP, which makes it one of the most threat-centric Unified Threat Management [systems] on the market," said Cisco's Munroe. "Then we have services available for channel partners as well that helps support their customers' digital transformation."

The new security solutions will be included in Cisco's new Digital Network Architecture. DNA will be key to Cisco's new software subscription model that will eventually change the sales model of its channel community.

John Growdon, senior director of Channel Business Development for Cisco's Data Center and Enterprise Networking, said Cisco is "heavily leveraging the cloud" to simplify security management, allowing partners to differentiate themselves in the market.

"As we integrate our products together and we simplify the way to manage and work with them in the cloud, we end up with better, more compelling offerings that partners can differentiate themselves with," said Growdon, in an interview with CRN. "Our partners can really differentiate themselves from a pure product player who's only trying to sell one aspect of security to customers."

Last month, the networking giant announced its plan to buy CloudLock, its fourth security vendor since June 2015, spending well over $1 billion on the security acquisitions.