Cisco Live Day 1 news brings together networking and security – SiliconANGLE News

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The 2024 edition of Cisco Systems Inc.’s global user event Cisco Live is particularly important, as artificial intelligence has redefined networking, security, observability and collaboration. The fundamental tenet of my research is that share shifts happen when markets transition, putting the incumbent vendors at risk if they don’t evolve with the industry.

In the past, Cisco has leveraged market transitions to grow its share in switching, voice-over-internet-protocol, Wi-Fi, security and other areas. However, it has become the hunted, so its ability to get out in front of the changing security and networking landscape is important in keeping the company in the lead.

Before Cisco Live, Cisco held a prebriefing on security and networking news with several executives, including Rebecca Stone, senior vice president of Customer Solutions Marketing, and Ambika Kapur, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Cisco Security.

Stone discussed the Cisco networking experience, which she said some might see as a simple, seamless process.

Network and IT ops lack control

“But the reality is that for networking operations, it’s an extremely complex and complicated route that any application takes from your device or user to that location and back,” she said. “It involves a series of hops for multiple vendors and parts of your owned and unowned infrastructure.”

She added that, although experiences rely on owned and unowned infrastructure, network and information technology operations have yet to get the control they need to manage effectively. Plus, she said that a significant amount of complexity gets in the way with all the hops and moves data needs to make as it weaves its way to the user. And then, of course, there are security threats to contend with.

“It’s important to remember that this network of owned and unowned infrastructure is not just about the network,” she said. “It’s not just about the data that crosses it. It’s about keeping it secure as well.”

Better visibility

Stone added that IT needs better visibility and ownership of the entire global network experience — what she referred to as a “global area network” that provides visibility of telemetry data.

She discussed four guiding principles across the Cisco portfolio: “Ensuring AI-native operations, having digital experience assurance across your network, making sure that you’re thinking about end-to-end security, and making sure that you have infrastructure that is AI ready and is to meet the evolving demands of sustainability, while also scaling that high performance and mission-critical workloads that are needed in this AI era.”

Cisco Live announcements focus on operational simplicity

First, in the data center area, looking to simplify the design and management of advanced AI, the company announced Cisco Nexus HyperFabric-managed clusters with Nvidia and Nutanix GPT-in-a-box with Cisco Validated Designs. The company also hopes to help simplify operations and provide a consistent user experience with the Cisco Nexus Cloud Native Functions fabric extension across ACI/NX-OS.

The company will integrate Secure Access with Secure Connect for secure networking in campus and branch environments. It will also enable the integration of MX telemetry with XOR. Plus, with an eye on security simplification and scalability, it will release a high-performance, scalable appliance to keep branch and remote workers secure.

To help those campuses and branches simplify their operations, Cisco will offer Al-native digital experience assurance, which should broaden visibility across owned and unowned networks. The company is also helping with automation across domains and promises lower total cost of ownership. For service providers, Cisco promises to optimize broadband services while offering the ability to monetize investments.

Innovating the Cisco Security Cloud

Ambika Kapur discussed the company’s rapid innovation of the Cisco Security Cloud. “With the Cisco security cloud, we are focused on where security meets the network,” she said. “That’s where innovation is happening. There are three suites: the User Protection suite, the Cloud Protection suite and the Breach Protection suite. And each suite — think of it as a system of systems that integrates multiple capabilities.”

Kapur said the company was extending Hypershield fabric to server DPUs with AMD Pensando DPUs. “We now have support for AMD Pensando GPUs,” she said. “And these will be available from server providers — and, very importantly, that includes the Cisco UCS family of products.”

The company also plans to announce that it will release a new iteration of its next-gen firewall by September of this year. It says Firewall Threat Defense 7.6 will streamline software-defined wide-area network deployments, boost zero-day threat protection, and provide controls for generative Al apps.

Some final thoughts

Those are the highlights. There are a few more, including enhancements to telemetry for better security operations centers. Overall, the announcements show Cisco as a company that is making moves. It’s continuing to lean doggedly on its heritage as a network company while innovating and expanding our minds on how we think of the network.

On the briefing, the company described what it was doing as “melting security into the network.” For Cisco, the company has attempted to go toe-to-toe with the other security platform vendors only to have leadership ebb and flow along product cycles. By leveraging the network, Cisco can provide threat protection across its massive installed base.

Security and networking have historically operated in silos at Cisco, and this is the first time in the company’s history they have brought the two domains together at a level deeper than PowerPoint.

Zeus Kerravala is a principal analyst at ZK Research, a division of Kerravala Consulting. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE.

Image: Cisco

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