The Year of Synergy between Cyber & Communication

"The primary change is the transition to thinking in platform terms," says Oren Sagi, General Manager of Cisco Israel, in a special interview. "Security is required for the network, the end stations, the server farm, the cloud and the user himself. We can provide visibility into all of the layers"

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If you ask the people at Cisco what they envisage for the year 2019, they will probably tell you that the world of communication and cyber is heading in the direction of a platform – not toward standardization exactly, but more toward synergy. Cisco has both sides covered. The Company, valued at $200 billion on the stock exchange with an annual sales turnover of more than $49 billion, started out sometime in the 1980s with their first router, and today they are regarded as the company leading the data communication field worldwide.

The people at Cisco Israel say that 2019 will be the year of platform and flexibility. That statement is consistent with the statements of Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco Systems, who said recently in an interview to Business Insider that "One of the Company's efforts is to give customers more flexibility in how they use Cisco products and services. This has, in turn, led to Cisco focusing its efforts on subscription-based businesses, like security in the cloud and compliance with regulation."

There is more to it than statements to the media. Cisco's last report indicates that the Company's revenue structure has changed. Make no mistake about it – Cisco still generates most of its revenue from the sales of communication and information security products. At the same time, about 30% come from subscription-based services, plus 10% from software products. For a company with an annual turnover of tens of billions, these are not small numbers.

"The primary change is the transition to thinking in platform terms," explains Oren Sagi, General Manager of Cisco Israel. "The platform focuses on five main axes – communication, cyber, support for multiple clouds, analytics and client experience. Security based only on addressing the boundaries of the organizational network is no longer relevant in today's reality. Security is required for the network, the end stations, the server farm, the cloud and the user himself. We can provide visibility into all of the layers."

Traffic is the Name of the Game

In an era when practically everything becomes computerized, traffic is the name of the game. According to Cisco's forecast report titled Visual Networking Index, traffic is expected to be substantial in the next five years. According to the report, the global IP traffic is expected to reach 396 exabytes per month by 2022, compared to 122 exabytes per month in 2017. Traffic during the busiest hour on the Internet will increase by nearly five times between 2017 and 2022, reaching 7.2 petabytes per second by 2022. Internet traffic in an average hour will increase by nearly four times during the same period, reaching one petabyte per second by 2022.

"This increase means that more users are logging into the Internet and supporting infrastructures are required, from the campus level to the WAN level. Today, we are talking about interfaces (operating) at a rate of 400 gigabytes. Among other things, some of the development processes take place in our development laboratories in Israel," explains Sagi. "The massive amounts of traffic will pull up the amount of DDoS attacks as well. The number of DDoS attacks is expected to double, reaching tens of millions of attacks per year by 2022. A part of the strategy for coping with this phenomenon is our cooperative alliance with the Radware Company of Israel, which offers a suitable security solution."

To cope with the cyber threats expected on the Internet with such traffic volumes, Cisco combines end equipment, WAN equipment and cloud solutions into a cyber intelligence operationalization process. The Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) adds cybersecurity capabilities to the communication devices installed at the client's site, which are originally intended to provide switching and routing. ISE is a network administration product enabling establishment and enforcement of a security and access policy for the company's routers and switches. By combining it with the AMP, which protects the end stations, Cisco solves one of the primary challenges of the information security world, namely – how to enforce the security policy in real time across the entire network.

Automation & Central Administration

Another process Cisco initiates for clients with decentralized branches and SMB clients is converting the Umbrella product into a primary security product in the cloud. The product, which originally provided security for DNS traffic, has recently evolved into a full-fledged security product, mainly owing to the acquisition of Meraki in 2012. The product was originally a wireless router with central administration, designed for prompt deployment in multiple branches. In recent years, it has evolved into a primary product in Cisco's portfolio. In combination with the Umbrella, which features a software-based firewall in addition to DNS security and is connected to the proxy server that receives updates from Cisco's intelligence pool, including the Talos team – this provides a complete security solution in the cloud.

"Our clients want automation and central administration," they say at Cisco. "Combining security, enforcement and intelligence elements enables us to provide a platform capable of identifying and isolating threats automatically according to the degree of freedom defined by the user. We use cutting-edge artificial intelligence capabilities to analyze the various layers of the traffic within the organization in order to identify irregularities and threats. We also use artificial intelligence to facilitate the installation and operation of the networks."

Another content world in the context of automation is the SDN/NFV architecture. Admittedly, this world is still in its infancy, but some estimates maintain that this is the future of the communication world: the ability of networks to initiate automatic (and possibly even autonomous) configuration changes and provide network functions as a pushbutton software feature, with no endpoint hardware changes. The people at Cisco say they have solutions for this world, too. One of those solutions, for example, is the range of Meraki products, which come with built-in SD-WAN capabilities.

"Even when they were talking about the transition of organizations to the cloud, there were those who mourned Cisco," says Sagi. "But the numbers do not lie. This year was an excellent year for Cisco because of the cloud. Why? Because when an organization wants to transfer to the cloud, regardless of whether it is private, hybrid or public, the basis is communication and information security, and here Cisco comes into the picture with its diversified capabilities – support for high rates, QOS and NetFlow and information security products. The same will apply to SDN/NFV or to the fifth-generation cellular networks. Every such revolution only benefits Cisco."

In order to prepare for the next revolution, Cisco has products adapted to each network aggregation layer – the endpoints, the network and the access, including a central administration system for network segmentation, automatic administration and central control of the operation of the apps in the network.

In response to a question regarding Cisco's position in the fifth-generation content world, Sagi explained that Cisco is a major player in IP traffic. "The fifth-generation and IoT revolution are expected to produce billions of decentralized devices and substantial traffic files," explains Sagi. "We are building the network as a sensor for this model. The inexpensive devices dispersed on the ground will be interconnected through a network and the network would have to manage and secure them."

As far as the Israeli aspect is concerned, Cisco is a state-level partner. "We have four development centers in Israel, we have acquired quite a few Israeli companies, and there is an agreement between Cisco and the State of Israel for the development of digitization in this country. We are involved in many projects with Israel, including smart cities, health projects, cyber projects and more," says Sagi.

"In the next year, we intend to focus on the field of information security in Israel. We have trebled the cyber team at Cisco Israel and the number of partners. The security world in Israel has already identified IT as a force multiplier and security services, including industries, are the leaders in adopting and implementing Cisco's digital world. With applications for Big Data, analytics, cyber, video conference, conference rooms and more, Cisco is a major partner of the State of Israel, the Israeli economy and the Israeli defense establishment in the supply of solutions."