Cisco this week made its largest acquisition ever with the announcement of its deal to acquire Splunk for $28 billion. The stated intent of the move is to meld the AI, security, and observability offerings and expertise from both companies to help make enterprises more secure and resilient.
Past actions by both companies help put that intent into perspective. In recent years, Cisco has made it clear that security and resiliency are what the company is all about. In 2022, it changed the name of its core switching and routing business from Infrastructure Platforms to Secure, Agile Networks, emphasizing the need to have security built into networking gear.
Other Cisco security and resiliency efforts
Earlier this month, it announced the Cisco Secure Application (previously known as Security Insights for Cloud Native Application Observability). The solution is provided as an app on the Cisco Full-Stack Observability Platform. It is designed to help application and security teams work together to securely develop and deploy modern applications. In particular, the version introduced this month can be used to securely manage cloud native and hybrid applications.
When it was announced, Mark Leary, Research Director, IDC, noted in a released statement that today’s infrastructures “require all components – from core to edge, from network to applications, from on-premises systems to public cloud and communications services – to work as one to deliver the best digital experiences.” Cisco Secure Application helps in this manner by bringing different disciplines (e.g., application observability, security intelligence data, and business risk observability) together in a way that gives IT managers the information they need to make cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud applications secure.
That rollout came on the heels of an August partnership announcement with Nutanix aimed at helping enterprises with their hybrid infrastructures. Together, the companies developed a new offering that integrates Cisco’s SaaS-managed networking infrastructure (i.e., Cisco Unified Computing System with Cisco Intersight) with the Nutanix Cloud Platform, which includes Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure, Nutanix Cloud Manager, Nutanix Unified Storage, and Nutanix Desktop Services.
The idea behind the unified offering is to help enterprises with their hybrid cloud deployments and management. To that end, the companies claim the integrated offering will simplify operations, maximize resiliency, and help organizations accelerate IT transformation efforts.
Splunk equally active
Over the last decade, Splunk has focused on the collection, management, and analysis of data needed to conduct business and operate a network infrastructure. The company made numerous acquisitions to expand the types of data its solution worked with. Some of the notable acquisitions over that time period included:
- Cloudmeter, a provider of network data capture technologies
- Metafor, which uses machine learning to analyze data generated IT infrastructure and applications
- Caspida, a cybersecurity startup
- Drastin, a software company that provides analytics for enterprises
- SignalSense, which developed cloud-based data collection and breach detection software
- VictorOps, a DevOps incident management startup
- KryptonCloud, an industrial IoT and analytics SaaS company
- Omnition, an early-stage startup specializing in distributed tracing.
Also during the last decade, Splunk entered into a cybersecurity alliance with Booz Allen Hamilton to offer combined cyber threat detection and intelligence-analysis technology.
Cisco and Splunk synergies
After the acquisition announcement, Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins shared thoughts with investors and the press via email.
He noted that Cisco Security Cloud has visibility into vast amounts of security data, including network data, identities, emails, web traffic, and processes. With Splunk, Cisco will make use of all the data in its security offerings via the capabilities of the Splunk data platform.
What does that do for enterprise users? “The combination of Splunk and Cisco will help businesses move from threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention, making organizations of all sizes more secure and resilient,” he said in a statement.
One point raised with the announcement is that things are changing. The gist of the news is that the combined technologies from the two companies will help enterprises manage their networks and vast amounts of data. But more will be needed.
The big gorilla in the room is artificial intelligence, particularly generative AI. There is no doubt companies are rapidly expanding their use of AI in various ways. Using it and using it effectively requires data-driven insights. The two companies believe their combined capabilities will give enterprises the ability to get visibility into their data to take advantage of emerging opportunities to use AI.