Cisco knows it has some formidable competitors in the network security space, but the company believes that by leveraging its networking expertise it can be a security leader. In fact, David Ulevitch, SVP and GM of Cisco’s Security Business, is hoping to morph the industry term software-defined networking (SDN) into security-defined networking.
Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Global Technology Conference, Ulevitch said that internally at Cisco many employees joke that “SDN really stands for ‘still does nothing.’ But we think it might actually stand for security-defined networking.”
Joking aside, Ulevitch is serious about the company’s belief it can take on bigger security players like Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet with its security portfolio. “We think we have an architectural advantage. As we build the portfolio we are able to drive automation that will give the costumer benefits,” he said, adding that Cisco’s goal is to provide security from the endpoint to the network to the cloud. “You would have to buy multiple products from other vendors to get that.”
Ulevitch is, of course, best known for founding OpenDNS, a hybrid cloud security startup that Cisco acquired in 2015 for $635 million. In December 2016, Ulevitch was promoted to group leader of Cisco’s security business.
One area that Ulevitch says is key to Cisco is making sure its security products portfolio can work across different platforms because customers are adopting the public cloud but are also still using data centers. “They have a hybrid cloud but need security across it,” he said, adding that customers are coming to Cisco for help because they have been buying niche products that only help one part of their network. “They are doing niche buying. Security spending is going up but the breaches are not really reduced.”
Ulevitch said Cisco does compete with Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet on firewall protection. The company’s Cisco Defense Orchestrator is able to work across different firewalls, even those that are not from Cisco.
Ulevitch said the key to making inroads in that area is to offer a managed service for customers that don’t know what to buy or how to deploy the firewall. “We have massive firewall business but it is not dominant part of [our] portfolio,” he said.