Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cisco to grab broader security role

Interesting detailed article about Cisco's current status and plans for security. I will make a short summary here of interesting stats and quotes:

At next week's RSA Conference (thankfully I will be there with 12 of my team) Cisco plans to debut major security products to help bolster its already strong security portfolio. Security is categorized as one of the vendor's six Advanced Technologies and already brings in approximately $2 billion per year in revenue, though routing and switching still account for more than 60% of Cisco's revenue. The company has 1,500 engineers working solely on security products.

The company leads in worldwide sales and shipments for most major security product categories, including VPN equipment and appliances, firewalls, and IPS and IDS, according to Infonetics Research. (But its total share in any of these markets is less than 40%; a vast difference from its core routing and switching markets, where it holds 70% to 80% market share).

Through a series of acquisitions over the last two years, Cisco has spent over a half-billion dollars enhancing its product portfolio to address security in almost every area of a network. Before Cisco gets too far into next-generation security technology, some users of its products say there's plenty to improve upon in its current lines. Three areas in which Cisco security gear needs to improve are "integration, integration, integration," according to some quoted customers.

While Cisco tries to make advances on the security products front, it is kept busy by the growing number of reported hackable flaws and vulnerabilities in the very security products it pitches. The company has released eight new or updated product security advisories so far in 2006, affecting products ranging from its VPN 3000 and MARS to VoIP gear and IOS software. The Yankee Group quotes : "But while Cisco's strength is their installed base, it's their weakness regarding vulnerabilities. There are far more people that are going to try and hack into a Cisco router than" other" network products. "

Making it easier for users to quickly change, patch or fix flawed gear is another area in which Cisco could improve. "Cisco also needs to do a better job of educating customers on best practices for security on their devices,". "They have to come up with better configuration management tools and best practices to make sure that vulnerabilities are minimized."

In the emerging areas - such as SSL and IPS - Cisco is never going to be the industry trendsetter. Cisco can't maintain product leadership across all categories in all moments in time. Products from pure-security vendors such as Arbor Networks, Check Point, Cybershield, Internet Security Systems and Sourcefire are still held in higher esteem by some network security aficionados and experts than infrastructure-based offerings from Cisco and its ilk. Part of the reason Cisco will never dominate security the way it does routing and switching is that security technology is constantly evolving, observers say.

CATEGORIES : 1vendor analysis, 1ciscogate, 1vendor
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