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3/1/2010
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RSA: Cisco Retools Security For Mobile Workforce

The networking company wants to finds ways to let workers connect to corporate networks on mobile devices or laptops without sacrificing security.

In an effort to make mobile devices more manageable, Cisco is introducing new mobile security and identity products that implement its recently introduced Borderless Network architecture.

At the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, the company plans to announce Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility, a security solution for mobile and fixed devices that provides remote access and security capabilities under the control of corporate policies. The company is characterizing its offering as an upgrade to its VPN client software.

The Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility VPN client integrates with Cisco's IronPort S-Series Security Appliance and with Cisco's Adaptive Security Application Firewall, the goal being easier network access with improved, more coherent security.

"It's about a platform that provides consistent policy enforcement across any device, any place, any time," said Tom Gillis, VP and general manager of Cisco's Security Technology business unit, at a media event on Monday.

The company is also enhancing Cisco TrustSec, which helps enterprise customers implement policy-based access control across their networks, with several of new features.

These features include integrated device profiling and guest access services for 802.1x networks, improved monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities, and delivery of Security Group Tag (SGT) and SGT Exchange Protocol (SXP) technologies for Cisco Catalyst and Nexus switches.

Ross Fowler, VP of Bordlerless Network Security Architecture at Cisco, said that the company is focused on mobility, video, and the workplace experience.

Cisco's customers, he said, are struggling with mobile device management because usage is increasing while enterprise resources to manage mobile users are not. He said that Cisco expects to see 1.3 billion new networked mobile devices in the next three years. Also in three years, Fowler expects 90% of traffic on service provider networks will be video. And in terms of workplace experience, companies are wrestling with the blurring of personal and corporate boundaries.

"I have challenges determining whether I'm using a device as an individual or employee," he said.

Phil Schacter, VP and services director at the Burton Group, says that Cisco has been talking about borderless networks for years. While Cisco has gotten some elements right, like the need to enforce policies consistently, he says, there's reason to be concerned about potential vendor lock-in. "I'd be somewhat wary about how this fits with the other things you might be doing," he said. "I'd be interested to hear Juniper's take."

Schacter says that there are plenty of conservative enterprises that don't buy Cisco's notion of just accepting any consumer device or client-owned PC onto corporate networks. He also says that Cisco has lots of work left undone before it can support every device on enterprise networks.

Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility and TrustSec are scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2010.

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