Cisco has been taking a bit of guff for the state of its security portfolio, but is it finally enough to wake the sleeping giant?
Cisco’s recently installed security chief, Chris Young, has yet to make an appearance at the Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego this week, but he was clearly top-of-mind.
CTO Padmasree Warrior gave a shout out to Young, who joined the company in November after stints at RSA and – most recently – VMware, during her keynote address Wednesday, crediting him with driving the company’s cross-architectural security approach.
Behind the scenes at a Q&A session the day before with members of the press, Chairman and CEO John Chambers, described Young as “world-class” and “a breath of fresh air.”
So he’s already in the spotlight without physically being in the spotlight here at the show. I take that as a signal that both Chambers and Warrior are betting big on Young’s ability to bring some fresh new thinking to Cisco’s security efforts.
Perhaps that’s obvious given that Cisco created its first-ever senior vice president-level post for him.
When asked how he responds to critics of Cisco’s security portfolio, particularly its lack of a next-gen firewall to compete with the likes of Check Point and Palo Alto, Chambers stopped just shy of calling firewalls cute but ineffective.
“Standalone products such as firewalls are interesting, but they cannot defend you. It’s got to be a total approach to security. So I would not give the industry good grades here yet,” Chambers said.
That, after declaring that none of us are really safe anyway:
“Candor I think is very important. There is no such thing as a secure data center or a secure network in the world. And we could probably figure out a way to get into almost any one of them if we wanted to. If we can, hackers and rogue nation states can as well,” Chambers said. “We believe the only way you are going to be able to have a sustainable defense vs. the complexity of these attacks is an architectural approach to security.”
And that of course is what Cisco intends to provide.