Cisco execs pledge simpler, more integrated networks

Is this the end of Switchzilla's dashboard creep?

Cisco Live In his first in-person Cisco Live keynote in two years, CEO Chuck Robbins didn't make any lofty claims about how AI is taking over the network or how the company's latest products would turn networking on its head. Instead, the presentation was all about working with customers to make their lives easier.

"We need to simplify the things that we do with you. If I think back to eight or ten years ago, I think we've made progress, but we still have more to do," he said, promising to address customers' biggest complaints with the networking giant's various platforms.

"Everything we find that is inhibiting your experience from being the best that it can be, we're going to tackle," he declared, appealing to customers to share their pain points at the show.

Cisco tightens integrations

A quick glance over the company's announcements this week reveals a common theme along these lines: tighter integrations between the company's existing product portfolios aimed at saving customers the trouble of flipping between multiple dashboards just to do their jobs.

"As an industry, we delivered more and more power, more sophistication every step of the way," said Todd Nightingale, EVP of enterprise networking and cloud at Cisco, during the keynote. "As we drove more sophistication, we unlocked things we never thought possible. But at the same time, too often, we passed the burden of complexity onto you."

Nightingale highlighted efforts to consolidate Cisco's two campus networking portfolios as an example of its intent, as Catalyst campus switching portfolio can now be managed and deployed in the same dashboard as Meraki wireless access points and gateways.

"No longer will we have to choose – nor will any of your teams have to choose – will they buy Meraki hardware or Catalyst hardware," Nightingale promised, adding that Catalyst hardware can be managed via the CLI, using DNA Center, or from Meraki's cloud dashboard.

Likewise, in the datacenter, Cisco revealed a cloud-based portal for its Nexus switch family that ties directly into its Intersight server-management platform. The combo enables customers to deploy and network their workloads all in one go. And for network disruptions outside the campus or datacenter perimeter, Cisco unveiled new functionality built on its ThousandEyes network performance monitoring stack, designed to predict and mitigate internet outages before they happen.

Liz Centoni, chief strategy officer and GM of applications at Cisco, said predictive functionality – alongside a tighter integration with the company's AppDynamics and Intersight platforms – allows dev teams to pinpoint disruptions faster and take preemptive actions to avoid them in the future.

The idea of stitching together functionality across Cisco's portfolio also extends to the security domain.

"Fifty-six percent of the breaches that occur, occur because of negligence. They don't occur because someone has actually had malicious intent," Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM of security at Cisco, told the keynote audience. "We have to make sure that this technology, to Chuck's point, gets to be simpler."

This complexity, he added, is driving customers toward tightly integrated services as opposed to point products.

The company bills its Secure Connect secure access service edge platform – which is built on Meraki – as the answer. The platform offers a full suite of networking and security services, ranging from SD-WAN and cloud firewalls to zero-trust network access, cloud-access security broker, and secure-web gateway under a single product.


What is important for Cisco's future "is this idea that we can combine domains into one user experience, stop shipping our org chart, and bring you simplicity and power without compromise," Nightingale said.

And according to Cisco, this not only means offering customers a simpler, more tightly integrated experience, but doing so without forcing them to adopt consumption models for which they aren't ready.

While the networking giant hasn't given up on its network-as-a-service ambitions – it still plans to offer all of the aforementioned services on a subscription basis – the company says the pivot to this model won't spell the end of established consumption models.

Robbins assured the crowd: "We want to give you the option of purchasing as a service or buying it the way you traditionally bought it. That's our commitment to you." ®

Other stories you might like

  • Cisco warns of security holes in its security appliances
    Bugs potentially useful for rogue insiders, admin account hijackers

    Cisco has alerted customers to another four vulnerabilities in its products, including a high-severity flaw in its email and web security appliances. 

    The networking giant has issued a patch for that bug, tracked as CVE-2022-20664. The flaw is present in the web management interface of Cisco's Secure Email and Web Manager and Email Security Appliance in both the virtual and hardware appliances. Some earlier versions of both products, we note, have reached end of life, and so the manufacturer won't release fixes; it instead told customers to migrate to a newer version and dump the old.

    This bug received a 7.7 out of 10 CVSS severity score, and Cisco noted that its security team is not aware of any in-the-wild exploitation, so far. That said, given the speed of reverse engineering, that day is likely to come. 

    Continue reading
  • If you're using older, vulnerable Cisco small biz routers, throw them out
    Severe security flaw won't be fixed – as patches released this week for other bugs

    If you thought you were over the hump with Patch Tuesday then perhaps think again: Cisco has just released fixes for a bunch of flaws, two of which are not great.

    First on the priority list should be a critical vulnerability in its enterprise security appliances, and the second concerns another critical bug in some of its outdated small business routers that it's not going to fix. In other words, junk your kit or somehow mitigate the risk.

    Both of these received a CVSS score of 9.8 out of 10 in severity. The IT giant urged customers to patch affected security appliances ASAP if possible, and upgrade to newer hardware if you're still using an end-of-life, buggy router. We note that miscreants aren't actively exploiting either of these vulnerabilities — yet.

    Continue reading
  • Cisco EVP: We need to lift everyone above the cybersecurity poverty line
    It's going to become a human-rights issue, Jeetu Patel tells The Register

    RSA Conference Exclusive Establishing some level of cybersecurity measures across all organizations will soon reach human-rights issue status, according to Jeetu Patel, Cisco EVP for security and collaboration.

    "It's our civic duty to ensure that everyone below the security poverty line has a level of safety, because it's gonna eventually get to be a human-rights issue," Patel told The Register, in an exclusive interview ahead of his RSA Conference keynote. 

    "This is critical infrastructure — financial services, health care, transportation — services like your water supply, your power grid, all of those things can stop in an instant if there's a breach," he said. 

    Continue reading
  • Datacenter networks: You'll manage them from the cloud, eventually, claims Cisco
    Nexus portfolio undergoes cloudy Software-as-a-Service revamp

    Cisco's Nexus Cloud will eventually allow customers to manage their datacenter networks entirely from the cloud, says the networking giant.

    The company unveiled the latest addition to its datacenter-focused Nexus portfolio at Cisco Live this week, where the product set got a software-as-a-service (SaaS) revamp.

    "It's targeted at network operations teams that need to manage, or want to manage, their Nexus infrastructure as well as their public-cloud network infrastructure in one spot," Cisco's Thomas Scheibe – VP product management, cloud networking for Nexus & ACI product lines – told The Register.

    Continue reading
  • This startup says it can glue all your networks together in the cloud
    Or some approximation of that

    Multi-cloud networking startup Alkira has decided it wants to be a network-as-a-service (NaaS) provider with the launch of its cloud area networking platform this week.

    The upstart, founded in 2018, claims this platform lets customers automatically stitch together multiple on-prem datacenters, branches, and cloud workloads at the press of a button.

    The subscription is the latest evolution of Alkira’s multi-cloud platform introduced back in 2020. The service integrates with all major public cloud providers – Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Oracle Cloud – and automates the provisioning and management of their network services.

    Continue reading
  • CISA and friends raise alarm on critical flaws in industrial equipment, infrastructure
    Nearly 60 holes found affecting 'more than 30,000' machines worldwide

    Updated Fifty-six vulnerabilities – some deemed critical – have been found in industrial operational technology (OT) systems from ten global manufacturers including Honeywell, Ericsson, Motorola, and Siemens, putting more than 30,000 devices worldwide at risk, according to private security researchers. 

    Some of these vulnerabilities received CVSS severity scores as high as 9.8 out of 10. That is particularly bad, considering these devices are used in critical infrastructure across the oil and gas, chemical, nuclear, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, water treatment and distribution, mining and building and automation industries. 

    The most serious security flaws include remote code execution (RCE) and firmware vulnerabilities. If exploited, these holes could potentially allow miscreants to shut down electrical and water systems, disrupt the food supply, change the ratio of ingredients to result in toxic mixtures, and … OK, you get the idea.

    Continue reading
  • Azure issues not adequately fixed for months, complain bug hunters
    Redmond kicks off Patch Tuesday with a months-old flaw fix

    Updated Two security vendors – Orca Security and Tenable – have accused Microsoft of unnecessarily putting customers' data and cloud environments at risk by taking far too long to fix critical vulnerabilities in Azure.

    In a blog published today, Orca Security researcher Tzah Pahima claimed it took Microsoft several months to fully resolve a security flaw in Azure's Synapse Analytics that he discovered in January. 

    And in a separate blog published on Monday, Tenable CEO Amit Yoran called out Redmond for its lack of response to – and transparency around – two other vulnerabilities that could be exploited by anyone using Azure Synapse. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022