Cisco’s $28B Acquisition Of Splunk Is A ‘Perfect Marriage’: Partners

“Cisco is going to be able to identify trends, and then be able to take preventative action,” says Sentinel Technologies Chief Technology Officer Robert Keblusek. “If they bring these things together and build upon Splunk as a foundation it’s a very strong future for them. It’s a perfect marriage!”


Sentinel Technologies’ Robert Keblusek

Cisco’s $28 billion acquisition of Splunk reshapes the intensely competitive security landscape, opening up massive opportunity for partners to deliver AI-enabled security to businesses grappling with a barrage of cybersecurity threats, partners told CRN.

Robert Keblusek, chief technology officer at Sentinel Technologies, a top Cisco and Splunk national partner, said the blockbuster acquisition is a “huge” opportunity for channel partners that breathes new life into Cisco’s innovation engine.

[Related: Cisco’s $28B Splunk Buy: 5 Huge AI, Security, Software Things To Know]

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“Splunk has an extremely powerful data lake cloud service platform that’s even certified in FedRAMP. Cisco can do just so many things with that technology and that company—it’s going to be pretty amazing,” said Keblusek. “They are going to have a large data lake for all their customers, and can leverage some of the newer AI technologies and machine learning to really find those needles in a haystack. Cisco is going to be able to identify trends, and then be able to take preventative action. … This is going to bring a huge amount of opportunity for Cisco and its partners in the threat landscape.”

The deal provides a big opportunity for Cisco to combine Splunk’s full-stack SIEM observability with the new Cisco XDR platform, said Keblusek. “If they bring these things together and build upon Splunk as a foundation it’s a very strong future for them,” he said. “It’s a perfect marriage!”

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, for his part, said as much in an interview with CNBC on Thursday morning, speaking about the combination of Cisco’s XDR (extended detection and response product) with Splunk’s SIEM (security information and event management platform).

“We see more threats on a daily basis than most every security company out there,” said Robbins. “They (Splunk) have the SIEM platform that is actually the backbone of security operations centers in all of our customers. If you bring that together with all of the insights that our customers can see coming out of their network infrastructure, internet connections and home offices and then you layer AI on top of that we can help customers literally move from detection and response to prediction and prevention. We think there is a huge opportunity. I can tell you our customers are going to see the obvious synergies here and the obvious strategic fit.”

The CEO for a top Cisco SP500 partner, who did not want to be identified, said the blockbuster deals fills a huge gap in the Cisco security portfolio.

“Cisco absolutely needed a SIEM platform that they could make the underpinnings of their security portfolio,” he said. “A lot of us have been asking what is the next big growth engine from Cisco? This is it. This gives us a much more comprehensive security offering to take to market. We think it gives Cisco a ton more credibility in the security space. This is a tremendous acquisition for Cisco!”

Splunk’s SIEM and AI assets provide AI-enabled security observability that ties into Cisco’s networking and security offerings, potentially providing real time threat protection for customers, said partners.

“Having a SIEM that can effectively integrate with any technology stack is a huge win for Cisco to be the underlying be all and end all for security,” said the SP500 CEO. “Splunk gives Cisco the AI predictive security capability they needed. Now you have a company that is going to see all the threats and events and move to stop them with AI. Having the network tied into SIEM gives Cisco the ability to stop threats in real time. This is a very compelling story for Cisco and its partners.”

The deal has the potential to shake up the cybersecurity market as Cisco moves to grab a bigger share of the cybersecurity market, providing a competitive threat to a wide range of cybersecurity companies, said partners.

“This basically puts the dagger in a lot of other security company’s strategies,” said the SP500 CEO. “There a bunch of SIEM and XDR companies that could be impacted that we partner with. The question is how does the channel dynamic change in the cybersecurity market? This is Cisco going after a rapidly growing market segment with Splunk.”

The deal could also threaten Splunk’s many relationships with other security providers, said the CEO. “Splunk on its own had established neutrality with its SIEM platform,” he said. “Think about how many security companies tied into Splunk. The question is what happens now to that Splunk ecosystem?”

Among the concerns for partners is how does Cisco effectively integrate the two organizations and ultimately what does a combined channel program look like, said the SP500 CEO. “This is the largest acquisition that Cisco has ever done,” he said. “The integration is going to be key to how this plays out.”

Bob Venero, CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Future Tech Enterprise – No. 76 on the SP500, said he is looking forward to having deeper conversations with Cisco about the AI-enabled security opportunity in the wake of the deal.

“This is a forward-thinking move by Cisco to move to where the industry and the market is driving to with AI and cybersecurity,” said Venero. “In the past, Cisco was viewed as a legacy switch and router company. This is an extremely smart move by Cisco, which sees the writing on the wall as far as how they need to innovate and change. This is part of that strategy. Cisco has always been a channel-friendly company. This is a benefit to partners. It provides the opportunity for partners to deliver a bigger Cisco portfolio with Splunk. There are big advantages here for Cisco, Splunk and partners. This is a major opportunity for share growth for partners engaging with Cisco.”

The acquisition immediately makes the Splunk security portfolio more attractive to partners and customers, said Venero. “When you take a company like Splunk and make it a part of the Cisco portfolio it makes it easier to drive it into our account base,” he said. “It’s the old adage: when Cisco knocks on the door, customers open the door and have a conversation. If you did that alone with Splunk, companies are not as willing to open the door. This brings a recognized brand to that customer.”

A ‘Springboard’ For Partners

Sentinel Technologies’ Keblusek, for his part, called the Splunk platform a springboard for his company to innovate faster with its managed security services offering.

Splunk is the underlying platform for Sentinel Technologies’ managed security services, SOC and security information management (SIM) offerings.

“Cisco is modernizing its platforms,” he said. “You take a look at what they’re doing with some of the bread and butter for them, like Cisco Catalyst switching and the SD-WAN, SASE innovations, etc. They really are investing in the future. I think over the next couple of months and years, we’re going see some nice, creative and innovative solutions coming out of Cisco, which is very welcomed. Especially as a partner, it gives us a lot of opportunity to bring those solutions to our customers as a longtime trusted partner.”

Cisco’s massive Splunk acquisition marks the tenth acquisition from Cisco in 2023 alone. Partners say the integration of technologies from Splunk and other recent acquisitions, will take Cisco to a new level.

“I like some of the acquisitions they made in cybersecurity and really across the board. Cisco is investing in the future,” Sentinel’s CTO said. “Hopefully, they’ll get the large R&D engine behind it, and funding, and they will build some innovative things.”