Mark Davison at the Cisco One Africa Partner Summit, Legends Resort – It may not be a name synonymous with security, but Cisco has planted its flag firmly in this burgeoning market declaring it as its number one priority and an industry sector where it is “going big”.

Outgoing CEO John Chambers has already delivered this message – underscored by his successor Chuck Robbins – and it was reinforced at the One Africa Partner Summit by the company’s head of architecture for emerging markets, Den Sullivan.

Sullivan says the security market is estimated by analysts to be worth about $95-billion with a CAGR of 8,4% between this year and 2018, and that it is an opportunity Cisco and its partners can’t afford to ignore.

“Personally, I think the figure of $95-billion falls far short of the true opportunity,” Sullivan says. “But it’s a market where Cisco is truly going big. We’ve hired more than 1 000 engineers in this field in the last few months and we’re still hiring more as I speak.

“We’re really trying to catch this wave,” Sullivan adds. “It’s a wave I think will be frequent and a wave that is going to get bigger and bigger.”

Sullivan says that as a networking company, Cisco has had vast experience with security in the past, but it is in the future that he sees it playing a more crucial role in the sector by moving into platform-based security.

“As a networking company, we were pretty used to the drawbridge approach to security – protecting the network with the likes of firewalls,” he explains. “But that is not the case anymore with the advent of memory sticks, smart phones and mobile devices. Now, it is about being threat-focused, and there is no better place than the network to address this.

“The network has always given huge visibility of what is exactly going on in terms of users and imminent threats,” he says. “Cisco, for example, monitors 150-million endpoints each day; its networks handle 95-billion e-mails every day; and it also has 13-billion Web requests daily.

“From that information, and using our analytics and the capacity of the engineers we have, we can see what attack vectors are emerging and very quickly protect our customers,” he says.

Sullivan says that partners will be instrumental in the company’s success in the security market.

“The opportunity is big and it is big with you,” he told delegates. “Partners are key in this market. We’re hugely serious about it and we’d like to go on this journey with you.”