Cisco Australia and New Zealand channel chief Rodney Hamill is rallying partners to be “bullish” and “bold” with cyber security in 2024.
Ahead of the global giant’s US$28 billion acquisition of Splunk, the A/NZ partner organisation director is calling on partners to “get the Cisco flag” out into the highly competitive security market.
Speaking to ARN during Cisco Live in Melbourne, Hamill said cyber security is now “where the game is at” and what A/NZ market is calling out for.
“There is no reason why we shouldn’t be out there dominating security with our partners,” Hamill said. “The reach we have the footprint and the network at the core of it all. We should be out there being bold. What we’ve launched in the security suite, XDR and the acquisitions we have announced; we need to be bullish. Let’s get back out there on the front foot and get the Cisco flag back out there.
Hamill’s comments follow Gartner's predictions that 87 per cent of CIOs in Australia and New Zealand will increase their cyber security investments in 2024.
Cisco itself has made significant bets in the security space, including its acquisition of Splunk, Lightspin and Armorblox, the latter of which is expected to drive artificial intelligence-driven security cloud.
Cisco also announced plans to buy identity threat detection and response (ITDR) start-up Oor in July.
“There’s always going to be evolving threats, so it’s about getting visibility into these,” explained Hamill. “The work we’re doing with [Cisco] Talos and the research they’re doing on the landscape gives us good visibility. You have to make sure you have a good security posture and discipline from your users.”
Although unable to go into detail, Hamill said the addition of Splunk will provide a “very compelling offer” for partners.
Cisco’s investments come off the back of a momentous year for A/NZ in terms of security breaches, with high profile incidents hitting Australia’s Optus, Medibank and DP World, and New Zealand’s Waikato district health board (DHB).
“There has definitely been increased demand and it is now a board-level conversation,” said Hamill. “But customers are at different stages of their [security] journeys. They have different products in different parts [of the business]. People are now looking at how they bring it all together and that’s why we’re looking at extended detection and response (XDR).”
From Hamill’s perspective, Cisco’s own security offering stands out because of its ‘one platform’ approach, which aims to dramatically simplify the end-user experience when encountering security products.
“People have made bets on firewalls or client protection, for example,” Hamill added. “They are unlikely to do big spends in the short-term, but they need to correlate all that and that’s where XDR aims to bring it all together.
“There are a lot of apps that are running into private data centres and require VPNs. The end-user shouldn’t be having to figure out which security system they need to be on to access their application.”
Critical to Cisco’s strategy in 2023 is its emphasis on managed services, with traditional reselling partners being encouraged to build out service-led offerings.
Canalys research, in association with Cisco, revealed there was a 7.1 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of managed service providers in Australia last year.
“It’s not just the reselling, it’s the managed services,” Hamill explained. “We have a lot of interest from the partners because of the simplified platform approach. It’s a good differentiator because the more platforms you have to manage, the higher the cost of service. Bringing down the cost of service makes partners more profitable.”
And on how Cisco, traditionally a behemoth of the networking industry, can stand out from its pure-play security peers, Hamill is similarly bullish.
“We’re doing more than security solutions,” he said. “We’re doing networking; collaboration and internet of things. We do above and beyond what some of the security players are doing.
“If we’re looking to build a cloud-managed MSP offer at scale using Meraki, stacking it with Umbrella and Duo, you then open it up for Wi-Fi, internet of things sensors and security cameras. The ability to bring more into the platform is beyond what the others can do. That’s the breadth of our strength.
Eleanor Dickinson attended Cisco Live! in Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.