Imagine the following scenario: A customer comes to you asking whether they should upgrade their firewall. If their network infrastructure looks anything like most networks deployed in the last 5+ years, it’s likely comprised of disparate networks, interconnected into complex configurations, and supported by personnel who have come and gone. Despite the best of intentions and strict adherence to change management processes, the result is probably a complex mess  due to ever-changing IT/application requirements. On top of that, there’s the need to balance the overall functionality of everything within that infrastructure. Including the security against the ever-changing sophisticated threat vectors that are actively looking to exploit any weaknesses or vulnerabilities. It’s a messy scenario right?

Legacy firewall implementations are often challenging and costly to operate

With legacy firewalls, there may still be limited visibility and perhaps, limited practical security/protection due to inconsistencies. There may also be conflicts in firewall policies and/or security postures despite having one or more firewalls. According to Gartner, 99% of firewall breaches are caused by firewall misconfigurations rather than firewall flaws. A big part of this is because legacy firewall products and implementations have typically focused on protecting only the network edge, and customers may also be struggling with ongoing and growing talent retention issues, as well as maintaining their talent pool with up-to-date security intelligence. These “misconfigurations” are often the result of deliberate tradeoffs of having multiple teams involved, complex/disparate networks, multiple policy enforcement points, and/or inconsistent application of security postures.

According to a recent Cisco cloud native security study surveying ~500 enterprise IT and security decision makers, 73% lack visibility into threats and ongoing attacks and 48% who were attacked in product environments resulted in loss.

The modern network now requires multiple enforcement points to ensure security

As business environments continue to evolve and become more complex, customers are also challenged with keeping up with the monitoring and management of their environments, maintaining security, or responding to ongoing and ever-changing threats and attacks. Furthermore, businesses have been adopting new uses cases such as:

  • Addition of multiple datacenters and/or branch offices
  • Addition of remote employees and providing access to IT resources
  • Addition of mobile devices and related application services to enable productivity
  • Evolving applications and application architectures that utilize the network in new ways

As a result of these changes, the Cisco 2022 Global Hybrid Cloud Trends report found that  approximately 82% of IT leaders have adopted hybrid cloud and about 92% of them are deploying on multiple public IaaS cloud services. However, security and complexity remain their biggest challenges.

The ideal next-generation firewall platform solves these modern-day network problems

To solve for these modern-day network problems, the ideal next-generation firewall platform needs to provide a lot of different features. First, it should have security that just works well together and flexible consumption and licensing models to adapt to ever-changing business requirements. Second, it needs to have Open APIs for easy integration with other tools and services to streamline operations and reporting as well as offer automated security for dynamic defense capabilities. Third, it should provide centralized policy and operations across the entire deployed infrastructure. The ideal next-gen firewall platform must also provide:

  • Comprehensive visibility and policy controls for both Firewall and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) functions
  • Enterprise-class management and reporting capabilities with access to statistics, event details, forensics, and real-time device health monitoring
  • Flexible firewall deployment options that are deployable on-premises as a physical or virtual appliance, or as a VM in a public-cloud service such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and/or Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality to address remote workers

Managed Security Service Providers make security easy

For Cisco Partners—particularly Managed Service Security Providers (MSSPs)—there is a huge opportunity to help customers update/refresh their network infrastructure and network firewalls to keep up with modern infrastructure and use cases. And secure firewalls are a foundational component of multiple sales motions and sales opportunities such as eXtended Detection and Response (XDR), Secure Access Secure Edge (SASE), Hybrid Cloud Security, Hybrid Work, and Zero Trust. In fact, more customers are now shifting towards leveraging MSSPs who can provide Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) that can address their evolving business requirements.

To that end, customers typically want business outcomes such as:

  • Comprehensive 24x7x365 monitoring and accountability. MSSPs that can provide around the clock monitoring of the infrastructure and be responsible for proactively monitoring the environment, managing, and respond accordingly.
  • Lower operating costs, gaining efficiencies of scale, adopt additional risk mitigation strategies by using best practices, and/or take advantage of the security expertise and intelligence that MSSPs have access to.
  • The opportunity to free up precious time/resources so they can focus on their core business functions and not managing their IT.

According to the Forrester Total Economic Impact of Cisco Secure Firewall report, MSSPs that harness the power and capabilities of Cisco Defense Orchestrator and Cisco’s Secure Firewall Management Center next-generation security platform can help improve their customers’ end-user experience and increase overall work productivity by:

  • Reducing the amount of time to detect network threats by 49% and risk of data breach by 80% compared to legacy firewall offerings.
  • Realizing 83% faster Incident Response (IR) time and an additional 77% reduction in time via integration with the Cisco SecureX platform.
  • Reducing routine firewall task time on operations such as policy deployment and updates by 95%.

Cisco Partner-Enabled Managed Services offering and benefits

If you are a Cisco partner and would like to find out how to monetize on this opportunity, please register for the upcoming session of the Managed Services Voice of the Engineer. In this session, our Americas Partner Organization (APO) team will provide an overview of Cisco’s Secure Firewall Management Center (FMC) and how it can be offered as part of a Partner-Enabled Managed Services offering. They will also explore the benefits that can be attained for both Cisco partners and your customers. And if you’re interested in becoming a Cisco Partner, you can learn more by visiting Cisco’s Partner Program and Cisco Partner-Enabled Managed Services.

Register for the Managed Services Voice of the Engineer session today!


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Nathaniel Hang

Solutions Architect

Americas Partner Organization