Cisco, The Security Company

Juniper Networks, made a big splash when it entered the security business via a mega-billion dollar buyout of NetScreen Technologies. Now it is Cisco’s turn – the company is going to make a big splash at the RSA Conference, to be held later this week in San Francisco, showing off its security portfolio. John Chambers is a keynote speaker as well. EWeek says the company is going announce largest upgrades to its security products in three years. It is a core area of growth for Cisco and the company has made it a priority.

“Cisco isn’t known as a security company,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “They sell security as part of a network strategy. But it’s clear they are serious about providing more security in the network. They are definitely the security leader among networking vendors.”

One of the cues for Cisco’s growing focus on security is that Jayshree Ullal, a rising star within the company and woman with the midas touch is in-charge of security products these days. Previously, Ullal ran Cisco’s Optical and Broadband Transport group. In the most recent quarter you can see the growth surge in that business.

Cisco’s security makeover has come as a result of a series of acquisitions the company made in 2004. Among the most notable are Protego and Twingo. The Twingo technology, I am guessing is going to be used to upgrade the SSL-VPNs, which are likely to allow access to more than just web-based applications. Secondly, the Protego is going to used as a dashboard to let network managers know about possible attacks. It also has bought companies like Perfigo ($74 million in cash) and Okena ($154 million in stock) and those products are slowly finding their way into Cisco food chain. Cisco’s trying to shift from being a pure hardware vendor into a software-services company.

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