More Cloud Services Emerge - InformationWeek

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4/21/2009
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More Cloud Services Emerge

Cloud services are becoming more popular in small and medium businesses. While corporations like the flexibility that these services offer, they have been concerned about their security features. In response, one of the industrys most influential vendors unveiled a series of cloud security services as well as enhanced its cloud collaboration platform.

Cloud services are becoming more popular in small and medium businesses. While corporations like the flexibility that these services offer, they have been concerned about their security features. In response, one of the industrys most influential vendors unveiled a series of cloud security services as well as enhanced its cloud collaboration platform.Like many vendors, Cisco has made development of cloud services a priority in its research and development laboratories. The fruits were borne in the announcement of a new suite of security services as well as enhancements to its WebEx collaboration platform.

The security announcements centered on Cisco Security Cloud Services, which support the companys recently announced Hosted Email Security Services as well as Global Correlation, a new intrusion prevention system. The hosted security features stem from enhancements made to some of the companys premise based solutions. The latest version of Cisco IPS Sensor Software, Version 7.0, features dynamic updates and actionable intelligence, such as reputation scores, to help companies identify rogue traffic and keep intruders from entering their networks. In addition, Cisco ASA 5500 Series Software, version 8.2, includes a Botnet Traffic Filter to help companies determine if any clients systems have been infected. The software relies on more than 1,000 threat collection servers that receive information from more than 700,000 sensors and 500 third-party feeds.

In addition to its security services, Cisco enhanced its Cisco WebEx Collaboration Cloud services. The platform has been evolving from a general purpose into a vertically oriented collaboration system. In response, the company upgraded Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Cisco WebEx Training Center, Cisco WebEx Event Center and Cisco WebEx Support Center, so the various applications feature support for e-training, virtual events, and remote support.

While cloud services have recently been gaining a lot of attention, they are still used only by a minority of companies. Their acceptance has come first in areas, such as collaboration, where many small and medium businesses did not have any existing infrastructure. Cisco has been aggressively marketing its WebEx line, which has emerged as one of the market leaders. Companies have been less willing to hand over their security functions to a third party. They feel more comfortable keeping such functions in house and often have concerns about a third partys ability to secure important transactions. These are hurdles Cisco as well as its competitors will have to overcome as this market evolves.

Cisco has been morphing from a network centric supplier into a more general purpose IT product and service supplier. The latest services are designed to help with that transformation and may be items that interest small and medium businesses.

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