Cisco has announced a slew of new technologies and product advancements across its networking, security, collaboration, and optimised application offerings to meet customer challenges and unlock partner opportunities.
Unveiled at Cisco Live 2023 in Las Vegas, the networking and security vendor doubled down on its strategic vision of a creating a more “unified experience” for customers and partners by accelerating its move to platforms and cloud along with “dramatic simplification and integration” across its product portfolio.
Brand new Full-Stack Observability Platform
Harnessing the entire Cisco portfolio, the vendor has launched a new Full-Stack Observability (FSO) Platform designed to deliver “contextual, correlated, and predictive” insights for customers to resolve issues more quickly and optimise experiences while minimising business risk.
This vendor-agnostic solution aims to enable a new observability ecosystem that brings data together from multiple domains including application, networking, infrastructure, security, cloud, sustainability, and business sources.
“Full-Stack Observability is critical in today’s digital-first business environment,” said Liz Centoni, executive vice president, chief strategy officer, and general manager of Applications at Cisco.
“Cisco Full-Stack Observability brings together network intelligence, security insights, and application observability across the multicloud environment and the full technology stack to enable enterprises to deliver unmatched digital experiences with deep business context.”
According to Cisco, the FSO Platform OpenTelemetry-based and seeks to enable businesses to seamlessly collect and analyse Metrics, Events, Logs, and Traces (MELT) data generated by any source.
In addition, it is a “unified, extensible” platform so that developers can build their own observability solutions.
One application currently delivered on the FSO Platform is the Cloud Native Application Observability, developed for customer benefits such as making the right digital experience-related decisions, ensure performance alignment with end-user expectations, and secure workloads.
At the same time, the first set of modules available on the FSO Platform include cost insights, application resource optimiser, security insights and Cisco AIOps – an all-in-one avenue to visualise contextualised data across infrastructure, network, incidents, and performance of a business application.
Cisco also revealed it is already collaborating with partners, namely CloudFabrix, Evolutio, and Kanari, to “develop and monetise” an ecosystem of solutions for the FSO Platform to extend the offering’s reach to new customers and business use cases.
In one example, IT services provider Evolutio has developed a fintech observability solution that helps customers draw business insights by monitoring KPIs based on data ingested such as payments and credit card authorisations.
AI-first Security Cloud
In a bid to simplify security operations within the context of a distributed workforce, Cisco is rolling out a new security service edge (SSE) solution as well as a network security solution in tandem with investments into artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
The Cisco Secure Access SSE solution has been created for common access experience, utilising a single, cloud-managed console, and for faster detection and response.
“With Cisco Secure Access, we are removing the burden from the user and providing a superior experience with frictionless access to all applications—not just some—to enable secure, hybrid work,” said Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager of Security and Collaboration at Cisco.
“Our unmatched visibility of the network gives us an advantage that no other company has—and we truly believe that where security meets the network, Cisco is the best in the world.”
The vendor explained that it has taken a hybrid Points of Presence (POP) approach with Cisco Data Centres and public cloud providers to “rapidly extend” global reach for its customers.
As part of Security Cloud, it leverages capabilities from Cisco’s security and networking portfolio, including embedded network visibility from Cisco ThousandEyes, and can be integrated with solutions from third-party vendors.
Cisco Secure Access will be in limited availability starting in July 2023 and will be generally available in October 2023.
“At WWT our goal is to provide security solutions and services that help our customers achieve their business goals. As a Cisco partner, we are really excited about the direction Cisco is taking with the launch of their Cisco Secure Access solution,” said Neil Anderson, area vice president for Cloud & Infrastructure Solutions at WWT.
“With Cisco Secure Access, our customers gain a simplified way of accessing both private, cloud, and SaaS applications private and internet resources, while transparently securing against threats and boosting user productivity while reducing frustration.”
Furthermore, to meet firewall demands, Cisco Secure Firewall 4200 Series has been launched, with features such as simplified branch routing that brings security, control, and visibility to traffic from remote offices to applications in hybrid data centres.
Running on the 7.4 version of the operating system (OS), other features of the solution include AI and ML-based encrypted threat blocking without decryption and is an evolution of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) with threat inspection and policy for each individual application.
Cisco disclosed that the appliance will be generally available in September 2023 supporting the 7.4 OS, while this OS version will be generally available for the rest of the Secure Firewall appliance family in December 2023.
On the multicloud front, following its acquisition of cloud network security company Valtix, Cisco is launching Multicloud Defense to deliver a “service-oriented, multicloud world”, effective immediately.
According to the vendor, SecOps teams will be empowered to manage security across the major cloud platforms – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) with a single policy, in real-time, from a single SaaS platform.
Meanwhile, Cisco is also previewing generative AI capabilities in Security Cloud with an AI Assistant as part of efforts to address increasing complexities in security policies, while also improving threat detection and remediation with Cisco’s Security Operations Centre (SOC) Assistant.
With regards to application security, Cisco’s Cloud Native Application Security solution Panoptica has been updated to provide end-to-end lifecycle protection, from development to deployment to production in cloud native application environments.
Cisco relayed that the capability addresses challenges that organisations worldwide are grappling with amid surging demand for applications to drive core business processes alongside the complexity of securing application development and deployment, across hybrid and multicloud environments.
“Our customers deserve a true partner and total confidence in the protection of their critical applications, data and workloads,” added Centoni.
“Panoptica offers a differentiated experience by bringing these powerful capabilities together for complete code to cloud security coverage. Backed by Cisco’s unrivalled portfolio of end-to-end security solutions, we’re here to help our customers supercharge their application security at scale.”
Additionally, the Security Insights module for Cloud Native Application Observability, built on the FSO Platform, will be integrated with Panoptica for real-time visibility, prioritised insights, and recommendations to address security issues across critical applications based on business risk.
Networking Cloud vision
As part of efforts towards IT simplification, Cisco announced it has been working to create a simpler network management platform experience to help customers easily access and navigate its platforms to manage all Cisco networking products from one place.
As such, Cisco Networking Cloud is in the works to accelerate the delivery of unified experiences and drive measurable business outcomes.
Cisco outlined that it intends to feature “cloud-driven automation, rich network insights, and innovation through its partner ecosystem”.
“Today we are sharing our vision and first steps to eliminate networking complexity and securely connect the world,” said Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager for Networking at Cisco.
“Only Cisco has the portfolio, experience, and partner ecosystem to bring together campus and branch, data centre, compute, IoT, and SD-WAN to optimize outcomes using one networking management platform to deliver unified experiences.
To begin with, Cisco is looking to implement single sign-on (SSO), API key exchange/repository, cross-platform navigation and a common user interface across its networking platforms to “increase operational simplicity, efficiency, and reliability”.
Following that, Cisco ThousandEyes will be leveraged for end-to-end network assurance over any network with expanded visibility, faster insights and seamless workflows.
Concurrently, Cisco is expanding cloud monitoring capabilities with enhancements to the Meraki dashboard to support new capabilities for Cisco Catalyst switches including a CLI view, image management, and advanced troubleshooting.
Lastly, Cisco is striving to simplify operations with an “easier, more predictable, and more scalable” Catalyst stack, improve visibility into data centre power consumption insights and energy footprints, and develop new AI data centre blueprints.
Shirin Robert attended Cisco Live in Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco.