Cisco executives Richard Palmer and Dave King describe the evolution of network security

By Michael Vizard, InfoWorld |  Networking

King: As you mentioned earlier, security has historically been this arcane area of networking that folks had trouble addressing. I think even for large enterprises that have diligent security staff that are very good, it's still very difficult to stay ahead of the hackers. So you always have a situation where the defenses may lag behind, either in staffing or in some cases the solutions. I think the bigger one that needs to be addressed here, and the issue that the managed services folks are trying to meet, is the skills gap. There just aren't enough qualified security administrators, and there's not enough cash probably to pay them all to support your needs. Clearly, the small to midsize business market is especially ill equipped to address the security needs that they have in their environments. That's where these managed service providers I think will probably play the greatest role. I think you'll see a lot of the large service-provider organizations and infrastructure players starting to launch new services or enhancing the ones that they already have. You've probably noted over the past year that there have been at least a half-dozen startups who have received somewhere between $15 million and $25 million of funding to address this market specifically. The reason why is because folks out there are just ill-equipped to manage things on their own.

InfoWorld: Is Cisco going to provide those services?

Palmer: We're going to work with partners. We think there are a number of excellent partners. We think there's an excellent opportunity on the part of our channel partners who are selling VPN networking and security solutions to small and midsize businesses to make additional revenue and margin by providing the management for those devices that they provide. We're basically going to be enabling them to provide those managed services. At the large-enterprise level, we still think that the vast majority will do a significant chunk of their security themselves. Part of that's based on this notion that security has got to be embedded throughout the network and it's got to play well with all of the other major networking initiatives that our enterprise customers are engaged in.

InfoWorld: Why do people seem to have issues trying to resolve incompatibilities among firewalls and VPN products?

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