Cisco’s Path to Zero Trust Security Starts with Observability

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Cisco has been undertaking a major pivot to respond to the needs of its many customers who, according to a statement from CEO Chuck Robbins, overwhelming believe they will have a major disruptive event occur to their organization. As a result, Cisco is aggressively emphasizing its #security and simplified #management focused capabilities, which played a prominent role in the recent #CiscoLive event.

Cisco has actually been in the #security business for some time, and it has promoted products like its #SecureX (consolidated security network management/tools) and ThousandEyes (part of Cisco) (cloud and #Internet network intelligence platform)), and now is launching the Cisco #Security #Cloud (more of an ongoing conceptual product set than a complete offering at this point). Cisco’s goal remains to become the central component of a full zero trust architecture built on top of the pervasive Cisco #network stack, but to also include Cisco and third party tools for #endpoints, remote processes and the rapidly emerging #edge.

To accomplish this, Cisco is pursuing a strategy that encompasses a full stack #observability capability from the end point through the #network to the cloud/data center, and using a healthy dose of #AI to analyze and approve or disapprove of each #data transaction, while at the same time leveraging its installed base to try and simplify the many varied tools that Cisco and others have supplied over the years to enterprises.

Full Stack Observability

Visibility in most enterprises requires from 10s to 100s of tools to observe what’s happening in the organization. Cisco’s move to Full Stack Observability is critical to cost management but also security for on-prem, distributed and hybrid cloud environments. Full Stack Observability is the next step in making sure the total infrastructure is running efficiently and safely, by doing analysis of and applying correction for any problems in near real time. Moving from an unmanageable number of isolated products to a unified platform is a necessity, and is critically needed for an end to end security platform that eliminates risks.

#Managing #Business #Risk

Full Business Risk Observability requires not only looking at the hardware and network infrastructure, but also into the business apps and user experience. This vision is what Cisco is creating and it’s a major step forward, although it may take some time to be fully realized. Nevertheless, cloud and on-prem app security with full network observability is a game changer. Adding #AI capability with a single view across the entire estate, as Cisco is doing with its Security Cloud platform, is critical to making this happen. Marrying device security with observability enables Cisco to provide a #zerotrust full visibility solution to user access as part of its capability. Of course, this is still a work in progress, as more components and functionality get added over time.

Dealing with #Multicloud

The challenge with any #HybridCloud approach is that it’s difficult to incorporate uniform security management and policy environment across the entire implementation. This is especially problematic in a multi-vendor cloud environment that is increasingly commonplace. Cisco wants to be the single pane of glass and enable a universal platform with its Cisco Multicloud Defense. This is a complex undertaking and ultimately we’ll need to see how well they integrate all the required capabilities, especially considering the non-uniformity across various cloud vendor products. Cisco is not alone in pursuing this goal, but it does have an advantage in being more inclusive in the infrastructure technologies it can work with.

AI at the Core

Nearly every company today has a focus on the super hot topics of #AI and #GenerativeAI. Indeed most vendors are mentioning it in their product and strategy presentations, and many organizations are at the very least experimenting with the technologies. For Cisco, AI can have massive benefits in almost all of its business areas. Indeed, it’s not just a buzz word for Cisco. It can be a game changer, especially when implemented in a way to enhance security status and find errant and/or malicious activities. AI is also a key path to management simplicity in a complex enterprise environment that may have as many as hundreds of tools in place. Cisco’s message of simplicity is a major theme as companies struggle with the infrastructure complexity they increasingly can’t effectively manage. This simplicity message is critical to driving growth for Cisco, but only if it can fully deliver on the promise.

Bottom Line: Observability and the capabilities it can enable is a winning strategy for Cisco for many reasons. First, it has been assembling a number of #observability tools over the past couple of years through major acquisitions. Next, it already has a major ability to view #network #traffic and determine what is happening with the data as it moves through an #enterprise. Further, it means that Cisco could become more of a defining product set that’s mission-critical beyond just the traditional #infrastructure hardware it sells. And finally, it presents Cisco with an ability to move to a larger ongoing #revenue position from its more traditional transactional model of selling hardware components. This last part is critical to its long-term growth as #software and #services become a more critical component of enterprise expenditures. We expect Cisco to continue to expand on its #security #focus and to become a central “command center” for the increasingly complex needs that most organizations have as they accelerate the move to a cloud, hybrid cloud, and edge cloud environment.

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