At the RSA Conference, a lot of people have a notion of how security applies to the so-called “Web 2.0” movement, and Cisco Systems’ chief executive John Chambers does not appear to be an exception.
Speaking during a keynote address at the conference, Chambers said security will need to be an intrinsic part of the network – running on Cisco kit, presumably – rather than deployed as point products where networks join.
He did not use the increasingly overused 2.0 buzzword postfix, but the implication was there – applications, storage, and even raw processing are moving into the cloud, so it makes sense to have a smarter cloud.
We’re evolving from a network of networks to the network as the platform, he said, abandoning the stage in favor of an audience walkabout.
It’s a notion beaten to death by the likes of Sun Microsystems over the years, but which has been revitalized recently by the introduction of slick web-based applications built on frameworks such as Ajax by companies such as Google.
Chambers has been talking about moving security and other value-added functions into the network infrastructure for years, however, so it cannot be said he’s following hype. Keeping Cisco kit valuable keeps the growth coming.
If you believe this [the network as platform] is a logical conclusion, then you need to consider security, he said. As the network evolves it has huge security implications.
I realize this is controversial, he said. Some of our peers may disagree.
He’s right on that point. Nobody wants their product’s core value to be relegated to a mere feature of a more popular product from a company the size of Cisco.
Chambers’ counterpart at intrusion prevention systems rival Internet Security Systems Inc, Tom Noonan, is scheduled to deliver his own keynote this morning that may very well make the opposite point.
His keynote is entitled Defending the Self-Defending Network: Can Computing Be Trustworthy In the 21st Century, a title that implicitly takes a shot at both Cisco’s and Microsoft’s security marketing before Noonan has even opened his mouth.
But Chambers’ keynote was not all vision. He did lay out some concrete steps that Cisco takes to continue competing in the security market.
On the basis that if you’re not in the first five to market you probably won’t lead the market, Chamber said that Cisco has made 15 acquisitions in security, three in the last year, and expects to buy more companies at that rate for another decade.
And where it cannot buy, it will partner, and attempt to drive standardization, he said, while admitting partnering is harder than acquiring.