Who attended SEVT?
There were representatives from 150 different Cisco security partners across the industry – anywhere from the federal to commercial space. The exclusivity of the conference speaks for itself, as only 150 out of over 900 global partners were invited. Force 3 has been represented at Cisco SEVT conferences in the past, especially in the security realm. This conference was a great opportunity to learn how other key global partners interact with Cisco solutions, with specific regard to strong security.
How is SEVT different from other partner events?
Systems Engineer Virtual Training (SEVT) is held several times throughout the year, each with a focus on different technologies. This SEVT session was hosted in California, but was being streamed live from all over the world. It is a unique opportunity for exclusively selected partners to get a “peek behind the veil” at the solutions and technologies Cisco is in the process of developing.
SEVT gives partners a first look at roadmap information for new releases, new technologies and existing products that are changing. We were able to participate in labs around those technologies and access new software that we typically don’t have access to, even as a Cisco Gold Partner.
What did you learn at SEVT?
We saw Cisco technologies that ranged from one week away from release, to many months away from release. Cisco is becoming more and more transparent, and sharing more of their information with partners than they have in the past. Holistically speaking, Cisco is taking a lot of their acquisitions, especially in their security portfolio, and integrating the technologies together. A main take away from the event was the interoperability of the platforms while reducing the number of management consoles required to manage the solutions.
For a while, separate solutions have had separate management consoles because they were different acquisitions. Cisco is now getting to a point where everything is working and binding together, and the vision that Cisco had as they were doing all of the acquisitions is coming to fruition. Information on the changes and further integration are going to be released as the new versions of the software for each different platform is released over the next 3-6 months.
I can discuss one product which was released to the public shortly after SEVT. Identity Services Engine (ISE) 2.0 is Cisco’s network security solution, now with increased integration with ASA, Firepower, WSA, ESA, and additional network access login capabilities. The ISE integration is now available for all of the security products within Cisco’s portfolio to be able to authenticate users or provide portal services. Engineers have also been waiting for a long time to be able to have ISE handle TACACS authentication, which allows your routers and switches from a management or network standpoint to authenticate with ISE. That ability has now been added in as a feature set.
What upcoming Cisco release are you most excited to bring back to Force 3 customers?
The upcoming enhancements within Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) and FirePOWER lines (their Firewall and IPS IDS functionality) are going to be a lot more streamlined in the future. At SEVT, we were given a sneak peek to see what the interface is going to look like and how that is going to work together. This is going to be a game changer for Cisco once it is released due to the functionality and the ability to manage the platform in one console. The enhancements are very exciting, cutting edge and definitely going to up the game for Cisco.
What is your overall takeaway with how Cisco can provide enhanced solutions for Force 3 customers moving forward?
I am very impressed with the direction in which Cisco innovation is heading. From a security aspect, everything is now tied together across the platform. We can leverage Cisco’s portfolio to be able to stress the importance of security across a customer’s entire enterprise. Cisco is the only manufacturer able to cover an entire network end-to-end which is very powerful when compared to the competition.
Our plan at Force 3 is to use the information we learned at SEVT to get a step ahead and become the destination of choice for both education and implementation of new Cisco solutions once they are released. Attending SEVT gives us the opportunity to get a jump start on our competition with some of these technologies, to be able to prepare for the launch. We can educate ourselves and our customers on these cutting edge technologies to position Force 3 in the market not only as a technology leader, but as a thought leader in the Cisco space. By proactively attending training sessions like SEVT, educating ourselves and networking to become more knowledgeable about the best solutions, we are continuing to better position Force 3 as the network security company.
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