Cisco Rounds Up Security in Newest Appliances

Cisco released at the Interop networking conference in Las Vegas this week details of its new family of multi-function, “single device, many services” appliances, which are designed to provide both small to medium and larger enterprises secure network and application management.

The networking giant said its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) 5500 Series of security appliances, a key part of its Adaptive Threat Defense and Self-Defending Network (SDN) strategies, would tie together security features of its PIX, IPS 4200, and VPN 3000 concentrator families along with rich Internet protocol (IP) integration enabling Quality of Service (QoS), routing, IPv6, and multicast support to avoid disruption of legitimate network applications and traffic.

Analysts indicated Cisco, the de facto standard for networking gear for many in the industry, is in a unique position to offer the comprehensive security solutions and is bringing together its security offerings that have previously been separate.

“They have all the [security] components, but they haven’t brought them together in an integrated fashion,” Gartner Research Vice President David Willis told TechNewsWorld. “Their security offerings have still been a grab bag of miscellaneous technologies. Their job is really integrating all of it, but they are in the best position to introduce security.”

All-in-One Defense

Integrating security is how Cisco described its ASA 5500 appliances, which were introduced with a keynote speech at the Networld Interop event by Cisco President and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers. The appliances range in price from 300 megabits per second (Mbps) performance at US$3,495 to 450 Mbps at $7,995 to 650 Mbps performance at $16,995, with all three ASA 5500 systems available this month.

Cisco said the appliances solve the problem of managing multiple security devices, and make deployment of those security features less costly and easier to manage. Through its Anti-X defenses, application security and network containment, Cisco said the machines would provide defense against worms and viruses, spyware and adware, hackers and other intrusion, denial of service (DoS) attacks, and provide network traffic “micro-inspection” and on-device security event correlation.

“This adaptive ‘single device, many services’ approach reduces the number of platforms that must be deployed and managed while offering a common operating and management environment across all those deployments,” Cisco said in a press release.

Loyalty and Integration

Gartner’s Willis said Cisco’s huge install base in network switches and routers, as well as its large support community, give the company tremendous loyalty among IT customers.

Willis said the company is also in a better technological position to fuse the network security layers that have traditionally been handed off to different machines, as well as different vendors.

“From a technical perspective, they’re able to integrate security into the infrastructure itself and have it managed, instead of layering on top where it has to be purchased and managed separately,” he said.

The analyst said Cisco’s switch and router competition — Enterasys, 3Com and Hewlett-Packard — are also attempting to integrate security into the network infrastructure, and are following more of a lower-cost strategy than Cisco, which remains the leader. However, it also has competition from network security providers such as Juniper and Check Point, which “have a better technology story,” according to Willis.

“The question is, will a technology story really win in the face of Cisco’s loyalty?” he added. “The first question integrators have is, ‘Why not Cisco? Do I really want to introduce another vendor?'”

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