Cisco Aims to Converge Networking and Security

Mike Vizard
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5 Steps for Proactive Cyber Risk Management

As part of an ongoing effort to transform the way IT is managed from the network on up, this week Cisco extended the reach of its integrated management framework into the realm of IT security.

This week, Cisco announced Cisco Defense Orchestrator service, a cloud-based approach to managing security policies that it gained when it acquired CliQr. It also unveiled a unified threat management platform for the branch office based on technology it gained via the acquisition of Meraki earlier this decade.

In addition, Cisco is now making it possible to employ its widely used AnyConnect virtual private networking (VPN) software as agent software for its security portfolio, while also making it simpler to control what types of content get shared across a guest wireless network.

Ben Munroe, a senior product marketing manager for Cisco, says that as software-defined networks (SDNs) evolve, the management of networking and security is converging. To help facilitate that process, Cisco is increasingly blurring the line between the frameworks needed to manage security and networking. That means sharing more data between its security and networking technologies and the cloud-based management framework it gained for managing security when it acquired OpenDNS.

Meanwhile, Cisco continues to push adoption of the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA). At the Cisco Live! Event, Cisco announced that Cisco DNA has been extended to add support for the company’s branch routers in addition to embedding sensors integrated with its security framework directly in those routers.

DNA5-(1)

While SDNs promise to make networking more agile, the biggest challenge remains getting network engineers to transition from command line interfaces (CLIs). Many of those engineers may recognize that SDNs are fundamentally more efficient to manage. Prashanth Shenoy, director of enterprise networks for Cisco, says Cisco recognizes that not enough network engineers have the programming skills needed to deploy and manage SDNs. To fill that gap, Cisco this week announced that it is creating a raft of training programs to help network engineers, application developers and business partners in the channel acquire those programming skills.

There may be no shortage of options these days when it comes to security and networking. But Cisco is clearly betting that many aspects of security and networking will increasingly be joined at the hip via a variety of integrated cloud services. As such, Cisco is not only looking to extend its own influence; it aims to make a few hundred rival networking and security products into comparatively obsolete silos of functionality that it hopes will eventually die on the proverbial vine.


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