In this latest episode of Cisco Champion Radio, we chatted with Duo, one of Cisco’s most recent acquisitions, about the company, its products, and integration into Cisco solutions. Our Duo experts included Karianne Butler and Umang Burman. To interview this dynamic Duo we sourced a couple of security gurus who also happen to be Cisco Champions, Evan Mintzer and Martin Schönbacher.
What is Duo?
Duo started back in about 2010, with Multi-factor Authentication or MFA for short. Karianne explained, the mission was to democratize security for everybody and make it easy and effective for all (a pretty cool, mission if you ask me). She went on to say that over the years, trusted access / zero trust has become another key component to the portfolio as it enables the customer to verify the trust of the user and the device that they’re using to access applications and critical data across the business environment.
Duo Size and Locations
With the Cisco acquisition, Duo is, of course, much bigger than it was prior. But all in all, as a security business unit, Duo has a little over 700 employees. Its headquarters are in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Its founders, Doug and John, have been a part of and stayed in the Ann Arbor community since the beginning, more than ten years ago. Today Duo also has offices in Austin, San Mateo, London, and its newest in Detroit.
What Products make up the Duo Portfolio?
Umang Barman took this question, he explained that Duo has the following editions of its security product : Duo-MFA, Duo-Access, and Duo-Beyond. He says, “these products provide an increasing level of security as customers tend to start with something small and basic, and then grow into something which is more advanced and covers more users and devices.”
Duo’s license structure is straightforward and simple, customers pay per user with unlimited applications. The thinking is, as a company tends to deploy more applications across platforms, they also increase the number of personal devices that are also accessing their on-prem and cloud applications. Duo is designed to give those organizations visibility into end-user devices and then more insight into the security posture of those devices.
Cisco Acquisition Timeline
In August of 2018, the acquisition of Duo by Cisco was announced. According to Umang, the first step was to make sure the teams were briefed. The next month included a lot of administrative updates where new packages and welcome offers were sent out. Cisco officially announced the acquisition in September and October 2nd was the first working day for Duo/Cisco employees.
The short timeline of the acquisition was a good thing for Duo customers who wanted to talk about the future of the company and integrations. The Duo team explained that the whole process has been very positive. “Customer’s really love our product, and love is a very rare word in this industry,” says Umang. “And so we wanted to make sure that what we have done for our customers will continue the same way, which means how we build products, how we deliver those products, how we service those products.”
Features and Enhancements: Active Development Program
Duo has what they call an active development program. This development process goes for six or more months where they learn from customers about the validity of the feature and the usefulness of it. “There’s a whole design team of that works on the project while it’s going through the development,” says Umang. “So the process is pretty rigorous, and by the time we actually launch the product, we have 10 or 20 customers already using it, and our target is to make that bigger.” Moving forward, Duo hopes to have 50 or more customers testing a feature. Cool stuff!
“A lot of time and resources are spent on it,” says Umang. “But ultimately, the goal is to deliver something that customers really love to use.”
A Shared Vision
Before Cisco acquired Duo they had approximately 3000 customers that were already using Duo to protect access to Cisco VPN, Radius, LDAP and more. “Now that we’re part of Cisco and our colleagues are Cisco product managers and engineering teams, we’re excited to add even more value to our mutual customers,” says Umang. “Now we can start having conversations where these integrations get deeper and stronger.” To that end, Duo is taking the time to talk to as many customers as possible, to find out what their problems are and how they can work together to solve those problems using joint Duo / Cisco solutions. Additionally, they are taking note of the security portfolio products they use today, how they use them and what would be meaningful for a future integration.
Duo has a whole work stream dedicated to Cisco integrations, but right now the main integration is with Cisco Anyconnect VPN. Duo is also focused on integrating with other products in the Cisco security portfolio. That includes expanding integrations into Identity Services Engine (ISE), TALOS, Cisco Umbrella and more. Umang says they’ll spend the next three to six months investigating what problems they can solve and how they integrate with each of those products.
In that spirit, the Duo folks are meeting with the product teams across different groups as well as those in cloud and blockchain to further understand how the products can integrate. And again, they’re talking to customers and seeing how they would like to see Duo and Cisco integrate.
Duo Integrates with other Vendors, even Cisco competitors
Duo is part of a security ecosystem and that means they do what’s best for their customers. Customers don’t want to rip out and replace infrastructure they’ve invested in. So Duo plays well with all of its security partners. Duo has integrations with those that are considered Cisco competition and they assured us they intend to support those integrations going forward as best as they can. One of the things that makes this possible, and easier, is that at the most basic level of integration, Duo can take advantage of protocols like Radius and LDAP . If applications out there are using these technologies, Duo can take advantage of that, and that makes it easier for mutual customers. That’s awesome!
POC with Duo
For most customers, they don’t even call Duo, they’re able to set it up a POC on their own. Duo offers a 30-day free trial to all customers and prospects. They share all the available integrations that Duo supports and their documentation page lists out those integrations with step-by-step instructions and screenshots. Karianne says, “It’s very self-sufficient, fast and most customers are able to trial the solution in about three days.” In fact, Duo gave us an interesting data point to highlight its ease of use: Boston University, was able to enroll and onboard 24,000 students in less than two months. WOW!
Duo also has Trusted Access within its portfolio that enables customers to verify the security hygiene of end-user devices before allowing access to data and applications. Duo can verify the endpoint the user is on whether that be a laptop, smartphone, or desktop and provides visibility into those devices, using an agentless client, which detects the operating system of the device and version its running. Umang explained that 75% of attacks that result in breaches take advantage of an out-of-date operating system. And since most users can’t be trusted to make regular updates, this is a no-brainer security tool that all organizations should investigate.
Additionally, a lot of organizations are taking their workloads to the cloud but from a security standpoint, when users are accessing these applications from their personal tablets or smartphones, it gets a bit trickier. That said, whether it’s on-prem applications or hosted in the cloud, Duo is able to deliver device details and user authentication to ensure secure access.
“Right now, at our headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan,” says Karianne. “All of our engineers are participating in a hack-a-thon.” Duo conducts these four times a year where the whole company prepares and then spends the day hashing out different ideas that can benefit our product, our business process, or something else in our environment at work.”
Another example of Duo culture is that at all company meetings they show appreciation for their colleagues. This is where people can stand up and thank a specific Duo person for something they did or a recent contribution. This is a great idea!
Teamwork and preparation are also big at Duo. Karriane explains, “It doesn’t help if a designer comes up with some wicked awesome idea and then a month later, we realize it’s not even possible. We work together right from the start, so before we even write a single line of code we spend time going and visiting customers in person.” The Duo team lines up the engineers and the designers, they take them to customer sites and show them wireframes. Then, based on customer feedback they iterate and makes changes. Karianne says the process is, “really fun and super motivating.” And then once everything has been considered and with feedback from multiple customers, they are able to make the right decisions and ensure they are delivering the right features in a very customer focused way.
Duo tech support is based on a follow the sun model, they have tech support in London and on both coasts of the United States. Duo has two different packages, a basic customer support which is available to all customers. You can get on chat with them, you can email them, you can get on a phone call with them, etc. eight hours a day, five days a week. However, some customers get premium support at a paid subscription price which is called Duo Care. They get more hours and if they have a critical event in their network, they also get after hours support.
And it’s good too! Duo’s Net Promoter Score, a guide that measures the likelihood of the customer recommending Duo to a friend, has consistently been between 65 and 70. That is really high, especially in the tech space.
Listen to the podcast to get the full story.
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Cisco Champion Hosts
- Evan Mintzer (@evanmintzer) Cisco Champion member and Manager, IT Information Security
- Martin Schönbacher (@nfvguy), Cisco Champion member and Datacenter Architect
- Karianne Butler, Product Manager, Duo
- Umang Burman, Product Marketing Manager, Duo
- Brett Shore (@brettshore), Cisco Champion Program Management
Podcast Discussion Topics
- Duo’s history and culture
- What Products and services are part of the Duo portfolio
- Changes to Duo since the Cisco acquisition
- What can Duo customers can expect
- What platforms are supported with Duo
- How POC work at Duo
- Where things are going in the future
- Duo’s global footprint
- When the Duo products will be added to CCW
- The Duo Community
- Meraki support
Listen in and provide us feedback, we would love to hear from you!
Cisco Champions are an elite group of technical experts who are passionate about IT and enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. The program has been running for over five years and has earned two industry awards as an industry best practice. Learn more about the program at http://cs.co/ciscochampionprogram.