What happened in Vegas? Simple: Cisco Live

|July 12, 2016 0
Security and Cloud became eventful this year as new product roll-outs and strategy-turns come out of Cisco’s mega event in Vegas

LAS VEGAS: Ok, so this is what happened.

A company so far almost synonymous with networking is sparing no product-reel, keynote-decibels and exhibition square footage to up the ante on security, cloud, and yes, even machine learning.

The announcements and stage-talks at Cisco’s marquee customer event happening in Las Vegas this week indicate that the networking major is taking a huge turn to connect to new lanes of security, smart cities, IoT, Cloud and everything digital or future-proof.

                                 

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The word in the air seemed to be this: the Digital Ready Network.

Something that was peppered with mention of products and work happening in all forms of this big meme – from machine learning techniques, cloud, analytics, automation, software to update network infrastructure and the big one- security.

Yes, security took a major chunk of talk and attention at Vegas since Monday, whether it was CEO’s keynote or David Goeckeler, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Networking and Security Business, Cisco Systems proclaiming this – Digital business is the most impactful disruption to security in the history of the technology industry. As a result, companies are struggling to manage the security challenges from both large, distributed environments and the active adversaries aggressively targeting these expansive attack surfaces every day.

Hence some answers the company is attempting.

New Stripes

Like embedding Umbrella Roaming in AnyConnect VPN, so that security is not pushed in a corner but is anywhere that users choose to be. Where malware can not only be strongly detected on one device but can also be blocked across the enterprise or something to that effect if Cisco’s moves into a centralized, cloud-delivered protection are doing it right.

Umbrella Roaming, as Cisco described, would now be embedded as a module with its VPN solution and organizations would be able to add a new layer of off-network protection and block connections to malicious sites while wiping off the need to deploy another agent.

Then there was the launch of Defense Orchestrator that amplifies the company’s embrace of the cloud. As a cloud-based management application it makes it easy for users to easily and effectively manage a large security infrastructure and policies in distributed locations across thousands of devices and that too through a simple cloud-based console, as Cisco explained. Plus it can help to cut complexity of many security policies and products as well as firewalls, it appears. Goeckeler was heard describing it as “one tool to manage security policy for all devices.”

As to cloud, there was note of another service for enhancing the Meraki MX Security Appliance for the purpose of unified threat management etc.

Cisco press updates inform that many such announcements of new services and cloud-based security solutions were built with Cisco’s threat-centric security architecture. Cisco even states: “From the network to the endpoint to the cloud, Cisco’s architectural approach detects more threats and helps customers on average reduce their time to detection to less than 17 hours — much faster than the industry standard of 100 days. Through its security architecture, the Cisco security portfolio increases capabilities but also decreases complexity — offering an alternative approach for customers that helps them close the gap and be more secure.”

Interestingly, while cloud and security continued to have gravity on stage and off it, it became clear how the company was firming and flexing its erstwhile kitty to incorporate acquisitions well.

In-tegrated

Like OpenDNS that was purchased last year – may be the technology for blocking malicious Web sites for users (even with disconnected devices on corporate network) came from that.

Or Stealthwatch Learning Network that aligns well with Lancope picked by Cisco last year as well. This one supposedly leverages machine learning so that Cisco Integrated Service Routers can double up as security sensors and enforcer points for remote branches helping them figure out dangerous traffic pockets and blocking them.

There was one more aspect besides a new security posture that overwhelmed the event – that of CEO Chuck Robbins’s one year footprint after taking over from Mr. Chambers.

Chuck it

As Forrester principal analyst and enterprise network management expert, Andre Kindness remarked before the event unfolded: “Overall, I look forward most to hearing Chuck’s vision for Cisco. Last year, the event was held right after the transition, and it was clear that Cisco was still John’s company. Over the last 12 months, Chuck has made some significant management changes to align with his direction, and I’m interested in seeing what it is.”

May be Chambers quenched some of that curiosity in his keynote. Also, in a Periscope interview, Robbins talked enthusiastically about what he and the team have been up to. He mentioned strongly the company’s ability to take power of network and power of Machine Learning that it has been working on last three or four years in form of products like Stealthwatch.

Talking of what would be the actual take-away from Cisco Live, he also highlighted the part of being at a point where technology presents an opportunity at the heart of defining strategies whether you are a government organisation, some SMB or any other enterprise. It’s a fascinating time, he cited, where we can be at the heart of transition and solve some of the biggest problems in the world.

Handling well questions about his anniversary run, he also put in an adrenaline dose: Our customers and partners are going to see more innovation than ever and faster than ever.

This is notable as Robbins had earlier also underscored Cisco’s partnerships with other players like Ericsson, China’s Inspur and Apple (Tim Cook also joined through a video when Robbins spoke on stage, by the way)

The question comes back to what Andre wondered already: “What is Cisco? A network, cloud, services, and/or IoT company? Does the company plan on serving all markets like it has in the past? I don’t see this as a viable option, but time will tell.”

Ask Robbins on Periscope and he would say that right now, hanging out with smart people is what he is most excited about at Cisco Live.

Now that should help. That’s Cisco for now till Berlin happens.

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