Cisco Aims to Make Security Foundational Throughout Its Business

Gee Rittenhouse took over leadership of Cisco's Security Business Group in April 2018 and has been on a mission ever since—to make security foundational everywhere within Cisco.

In a video interview with eWEEK, Rittenhouse discusses his mission at Cisco, the influence of cloud, the role of endpoint security and how intent-based networking helps to pull all of Cisco's efforts together.

"We have been expanding to make security foundational everywhere," Rittenhouse said. "One of the things I've been pushing through the organization is to put security in every one of our products."

Cisco historically was best known as a hardware networking vendor selling the routers and switches that help to power the internet and enterprises worldwide. In recent years, Cisco has increasingly grown its software and cyber-security efforts, to the point where in 2018, Rittenhouse said that Cisco is now the largest enterprise vendor for cyber-security technologies in the market.

Cloud vs. On-Premises

There has been a lot of hype in recent years with organizations shifting resources and deployments to the cloud. From Rittenhouse's perspective, he has seen somewhat of a pendulum shift over the last five years as organizations consider their deployment options.

"Most organizations, unless they went completely cloud-native from the beginning, have a hybrid cloud and in fact multiple public clouds," he said.

Rittenhouse said Cisco customers still buy a lot of on-premises gear to protect their own data centers, but also need to support mobile and remote users. As such, he said that what is happening now is that organizations are using a hybrid mix of on-premises and cloud technologies to secure their environments.


Cisco has long had network security assets, but it is also an active player in the endpoint security space. Rittenhouse said Cisco is connecting its endpoint security efforts with its AnyConnect VPN secure access technology and the Umbrella cloud-based security service.

"Together we're bringing these assets into one framework form factor," he said.

The endpoint story for Cisco is also set to expand later in 2018, thanks to the $2.35 billion acquisition of identity services provides Duo Security.

Intent-Based Networking 

Over the course of the last year, Cisco has been rolling out its intent-based networking strategy as a foundational element of its networking business. Intent-based networking has a relationship with Cisco's security business unit as well.

"The biggest key with intent-based networking is the fact that we have abstracted out the network configuration and segmentation through policy," Rittenhouse explained. "That policy whether it's on the intent-based networking side, ACI [Application Centric Infrastructure] in the data center or quite frankly security policies, that goes across the entire portfolio."

Looking forward, Rittenhouse said that among the biggest things he's most excited about for his business unit in the future is an expansion of the cloud portfolio. He added that Cisco is now in a position where many of the back-end improvements the security business unit has implemented in recent years will be seen on the front end by customers.

Watch the full video interview with Gee Rittenhouse above.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.