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Ask the Data Center Expert: Trends in Latin America

I have a keen interest in the Latin American region because several of my closest friends and my respected colleagues are from this region. Also, internal market forces and global demand are accelerating the rate of data center projects, further heightening my interest. Last year, I visited the region where I got to see data center build outs and realized the extent of the “greenfield” opportunity. I very recently got acquainted with Daniel Garcia, a 12-year Cisco veteran and Security Specialist sales engineer covering the Latin American region. I found his insights most valuable and different to what I usually hear.

For Daniel the greatest difference between the Latin American Region and other regions is the number of Greenfield data center projects. But Daniel finds that many customers are looking for “cookie cutter” solutions that they implement into their environments without much customizing. This was something I hadn’t heard before but which makes excellent sense. The reason for this approach is that many customers lack in-house IT expertise and require proven solutions. The benefits of this approach mean less risk, less cost and with any validated solutions, far less time in production and testing. The downside is that each organization has distinct needs according to their business line and size, and their risk tolerance will vary. Daniel works with his customers to tweak data center reference architectures to provide customers with a tailored and secure data center environment. Read More »

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Transparency, Transparency, Transparency, and Trustworthy Systems

We’ve invested considerable time, effort, and money in the effort to make Cisco products robust enough for deployment as Trustworthy Systems, either in their own right or integrated into a complete solution. At its essence, attaining trustworthiness is a matter of discipline—a series of conscious actions to build products in the right way, certify their conformity to prevailing industry and customer-required standards, and keep a careful watch on the integrity of the product supply chain, from initial product concept through their integration and operation over a solution lifecycle. But the most important attribute of a trustworthy system is vendor transparency. I define this as a customer’s ability to ask a vendor any question and to receive a complete, honest answer in return.

I have more to say on this subject in a video blog. I also invite you to view the Trustworthy Systems page on Cisco.com and download the newly published Cisco Trustworthy Systems White Paper.

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Consider Mobile Work Patterns and Security Impact

February 28, 2013 at 9:37 am PST

Mobility and application access capabilities have encouraged many of today’s work patterns. Some work behaviors were recently noted in a Cisco-commissioned research report on mobility and BYOD comparing IT and end user viewpoints. Striking about the findings is that day-to-day business activities were relatively balanced on wired and wireless connections—so while mobility is here and growing, usage is no more than wired. Core to the findings were end users’ view that mobile devices are 37% less effective than their corporate laptop for conducting business activities. From an IT perspective, managing devices and multiple policies in a wired and wireless environment was a key challenge. Mobile device usage behaviors surveyed suggested a personal and social flair. The predominant applications used on mobile devices are not specific business applications (22%) but collaborative applications (56%). The report also indicates that mobile devices are used for personal use more frequently than IT estimates.  Read More »

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Missing the Mark on Cloud-based Intelligence

This week, Juniper Networks announced a new cloud-based threat intelligence service focused on fingerprinting attackers’ individual devices. We’d like to officially welcome Juniper to the cloud-based security intelligence market—a space where Cisco has a proven track record of leadership through Security Intelligence Operations (SIO). Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but in Juniper’s case, they entered the market years late and with limited visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at Juniper’s latest offering.

To start, here is what we know for certain: cyber threats take advantage of multiple attack vectors, striking quickly or lurking for days, months and even years inside your network. Not only this, but the Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report showcases how the web is an equal opportunity infector, with cyber threats crossing national, geographic and organizational boundaries as quickly and easily as users can click on a link. Security solutions must understand the attacks and infrastructure they are launched from, with tracking individual hackers doing far less for your defenses than blocking malicious activity being actively distributed over the network.

The Problem of Visibility

When a detective walks onto a crime scene, they don’t just focus on one thing. The only way to understand an event is to look at the entire scene: interview witnesses, check the neighborhood and look into the history of everyone involved; in other words, context—or the “who, what, where and how” information using every available piece of data.

Just as a skilled investigator builds a holistic picture, security solutions are only as reliable as the intelligence they receive, with Juniper’s being limited by the number of “honeypots” across their customer base. In network security, focusing on a single piece of information, a single attack vector, or one delivery mechanism misses the global visibility and context needed to stop advanced attacks. Cisco SIO powers our security solutions, receiving over 100 terabytes of network intelligence across 1.6 million deployed web, email, firewall and IPS devices. We correlate this data from physical, virtual and cloud-based solutions with a world-class threat research team, augmenting all of this with an ecosystem of third-party contributors. Fingerprinting is one small tool you should deploy in your arsenal, even though it has limited utility and perhaps even limited accuracy.

Read More »

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Live from RSA: John N. Stewart

The RSA Conference is expected to be bigger and better than ever this year—more booths, more vendors, more technical sessions and keynotes.

But I have to ask the question: “Are we as IT practitioners better off now than we were 4 or 5 years ago?” There are a lot of people at the show who worry that the old approaches aren’t working and next generation solutions have not clearly come into focus. I do think, however, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

Join me for a live broadcast from the RSA show floor on Wednesday, February 27 at 10:30 AM PT as I discuss what I’m seeing at the RSA conference and what it means for the IT Security industry. We’ll be taking your questions live via Twitter and Google Hangouts.  Read More »

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