In June of 2022 at the RSA Conference, we announced our vision for the Cisco Security Cloud Platform. We set out to provide an integrated experience to securely connect people and devices everywhere to applications and data anywhere. We focused on providing an open platform for threat prevention, detection, response, and remediation capabilities at scale. Since the announcement, we’ve been working hard to deliver, and the core of what we’ve accomplished has been rooted in how we can bring simplicity to security, and simplicity for our customers.

Our platform vision was founded with five key design goals in mind: Cloud-native, multicloud, unified, simplified, AI-first, and open and extensible. Here’s how we have executed on our vision since we launched the Cisco Security Cloud:

  • We delivered Cisco Secure Access, a cloud-delivered security service edge (SSE) solution, grounded in zero trust, that provides our customers exceptional user experience and protected access from any device to anywhere.
  • We improved zero-trust functionality with an integrated client experience (Secure Client), and industry first partnerships with Apple and Samsung using modern protocols to deliver user friendly, zero trust access to private applications, and improved network traffic visibility.
  • We delivered our Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solution with first-of-its-kind capabilities for automatically recovering from ransomware attacks that costs businesses billions of dollars annually.
  • We have made significant investments in advanced technologies and top talent in strategic areas like multicloud defense, artificial intelligence, and identity with the acquisitions of Valtix, ArmorBlox, and Oort.
  • We simplified how customers can procure tightly integrated solutions from us with our first set of Security Suites (User, Cloud, and Breach Protection) that are powered by AI, built on zero trust principles, and delivered by our Security Cloud platform.
  • We have taken a major step in making artificial intelligence pervasive in the Security Cloud with the new Cisco AI Assistant for Security, and introduction of our AI Assistant for Firewall Policy. Managing, updating, and deploying policies is one of the most complex and time-consuming tasks that is fraught with human error. Our AI Assistant solves the complexity of setting and maintaining these policies and firewall rules.

Our goal continues to be lifting the complexity tax for customers

While I’m certainly proud of the tremendous progress we have made in the last two years, I know there’s still work to be done. It’s a well-known fact that within security industry, every time there is a new problem, there would be a cluster of security companies that spring up to solve that problem. This whac-a-mole approach can certainly challenge efficiency but, more importantly, it puts the burden on the customer to constantly deploy a new vendor, a new tool, and manage siloed data. I refer to this as customers paying the “complexity tax”.

This has created fatigue among security practitioners and increased interdependencies, blind spots, and unpredictability as evidenced by the eye-opening data from Gartner showing that 75% of organizations today are pursuing security vendor consolidation. Customers should not have to spend time deciphering what products they need in order to solve their specific security challenges. That should be our job and I take this responsibility to heart.

What’s crucial to our success is to listen to the voice of our customers, which is a powerful force in helping us steer in the right direction. We always appreciate candid feedback we get from customers. A couple of recent reminders we got from customers include:

  • Customers value things that will minimize disruption when migrating to a new solution or platform. They need our help to simplify and make this process easier through features like the Cisco Secure Firewall Migration Tool and the Cisco AI Assistant for Security.
  • We must be mindful that there are operational and business costs associated, and vendor or software consolidation may not always be as easy as technology migration – for example, factoring in for cost of existing software licenses of decommissioned products.
  • Hybrid cloud is the de facto operating model for companies today and security is no exception. We must continue to deliver the benefits of cloud operating model and SaaS-like functionality to on-premises security environments.

The Road Ahead

As we mentioned at launch, fulfilling the Security Cloud vision is a multi-year commitment and journey. From the Cisco Security Engineering standpoint, our go-forward strategy and priorities include:

  • A major priority is for us to optimize the user experience and simplify management across our portfolio for features and products we have shipped. We will continue to focus on delivering innovation from a customer-centric approach and shifting focus from deliverables to outcomes; the business value we can provide and what problems we can solve.
  • Working closely with our customers to prioritize customer-found defects or security vulnerabilities as we develop new features. In general, security efficacy continues to be one of our top objectives for Cisco Security engineering.
  • Harnessing the incredible power and potential of generative AI technology to revolutionize threat response and simplify security policy management. Solving these problems is one of the first “killer applications” for AI and we’re only scratching the surface of what we can do from AI-driven innovation.
  • With Oort’s identity-centric technology, we will enhance user context telemetry and incorporate their capabilities across our portfolio, including our Duo Identity Access Management (IAM) technology and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) portfolios.
  • Leveraging our cloud-native expertise and decades of on-premises experience to reimagine and redefine how security appliances are deployed and used.

We are making big moves, and our Cisco Security Cloud journey continues. Our vision is realized through innovation, and innovation comes from new technology, new concepts for mature technologies, and new ways to build, buy or use our capabilities. Stay tuned on more news from us as we continue to deliver some of the most exciting innovation areas for Cisco and the security industry at large.

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Shailaja Shankar

SVP, Engineering

Security Business Group