Cisco Jumping into Managed Security Services

Cisco security chief Chris Young

Cisco security chief Chris Young

Count Cisco Systems among the vendors now offering managed services. The networking giant that holds an extensive portfolio of security technology announced last week it is spinning up a managed security services division to support enterprise and government accounts.

The security division has a high-profile leader, too. Security veteran Bryan Palma, the former head of information security for Boeing and PepsiCo, was tapped to develop and manage the group, which will provide managed, consultative and professional services.

“With Bryan’s leadership and deep industry expertise, we will drive further innovation in our security solutions portfolio with comprehensive services that help protect the critical data information and intellectual property that travels on our customers’ infrastructure, wrote Chris Young, senior vice president of the Security and Government Group at Cisco.

“Our goal at Cisco is to be the number one security partner for our customers.  In today’s increasingly intense security environment, we need a combination of products and services to help our customers effectively tackle their most difficult security issues. I look forward to working with Bryan and his team to deliver security solutions that will support the growth and evolution of our customers’ businesses.”

While Cisco is best known for its networking products, it’s a market leader in security, too, selling more than $1 billion annually in firewall, virtual private networking and intrusion prevention technology. The recent acquisition of intrusion prevention and next-generation firewall vendor SourceFire is expected to amplify Cisco’s security capabilities.

Cisco has long supported managed service providers through channel programs that offer technical support, incentives and price protection. The typical Cisco managed security services model is to support MSPs that use its products as CPE (customer-premises equipment).

This isn’t Cisco’s first foray into managed security. It dabbled in providing security services. Its OnPlus managed networking services included some security support. And Cisco did offer security through its WebEx hosted email service. Both programs weren’t successful or widespread.

Unclear is how Cisco will take it managed security services program to market. In the blog announcing the effort, Cisco said it would target enterprise and government accounts. This indicates Cisco is following a trend by many large vendors to offer automated services on recurring payment contracts to large accounts as a means of generating new, high-margin revenue.

However, Cisco is wading into a segment that is dominated by the channel. Other security hardware and software vendors support channel partners security services by offering technology, products and support. Dell, for instances, is making security based on SonicWall channel relationships a cornerstone of its software division.

While Cisco may only target large enterprises, it could find itself in conflict with several of its national solution providers who also offer such services to large accounts.

No matter the level of conflict or collaboration Cisco creates between its security services and channel partners, the services model is here to stay. Vendors like Cisco will continue to build and expand their services offerings to meet the market demand and offset declines in conventional product sales.