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As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work – which was once considered to be a nice-to-have employee benefit – has now solidified itself as a workplace mainstay that is transforming workforces across all industries.

As organizations embrace the hybrid work evolution, they need IT partners who can guide them to transform and secure their applications and infrastructure. In this new environment, network perimeters are either massively expanding or completely dissolving as a flood of new user endpoints connect to enterprise and cloud networks. In turn, this is creating larger attack surfaces that will need to be secured and protected from malicious cyber actors who are on the hunt for network vulnerabilities.

To learn more about the security needs and challenges companies are currently facing with their hybrid work models, as well as how Cisco solutions can help organizations navigate this new normal and secure their networks, EDGE360 sat down with Kinney Yee, Solutions Architect at Cisco Systems.

Here is what he had to say:

EDGE360 Editors: How have security needs and priorities evolved during the pandemic, particularly as more organizations adopt a hybrid work environment?

hybrid work

Kinney Yee: Needs have changed drastically throughout the pandemic. As we all continue to embrace this new normal, hybrid work has become acceptable to many organizations to keep their workforces productive, efficient and safe. This means, whether working remotely or in the office, both physical and data security is important.

Hybrid work is about adapting to how teams work best and creating experiences that reach everyone. With Cisco Webex, we’re driving connected remote work, creating safer office spaces, advocating for employee well-being, and managing it all seamlessly in one place.

Webex enables us to enforce in-person guidelines, as well as create multi-use spaces that are touchless, voice-activated, and smart. All of this is done through a single cloud-managed portal, secured in global Cisco data centers.

EDGE360: What important lessons have been learned about security for hybrid work environments?

Yee: The greatest lesson that we have learned is that a security framework is a must!

SASE (Secure Access Services EDGE), a term coined by the analysts at Gartner, is a combination of security functions that support the dynamic needs of an organization. Cisco security products and our SASE strategy are the most comprehensive in the industry. We provide best-of-breed solutions in an offering that is easy to deploy, integrate, and manage. 

We are using SASE to address Connect, Control, and Converge. SD-WAN provides secure network connectivity by leveraging a combination of different transport services. These transport services could be MPLS links, satellite, cellular/LTE, or broadband internet. 

The important differentiator is the control and visibility you can achieve with Cisco SD-WAN and the integration of ThousandEyes Intelligence. The integration of Cisco SD-WAN with ThousandEyes Intelligence enables IT teams to gain deep insights from the enterprise campus across internet, cloud, and SaaS infrastructures, which decreases troubleshooting times and improves user experience.

We converge these technologies within the SASE framework to make it simple to integrate, deploy, connect, and secure.

EDGE360: What security challenges currently exist as we continue to navigate hybrid work? How does Cisco address those challenges?

Yee: The security challenges that currently exist stem from the various security platforms and the disparate management platforms that are in use. On average, there are typically more than 75 different security tools within an enterprise. This creates several problems, such as event/alert fatigue, patching of systems, correlating data, management, licenses, etc.

Cisco solves this by bringing best-of-breed solutions to market, simplifying licenses with Enterprise Agreements (EAs), and providing a free cloud management platform – SecureX – to manage one’s security environment, no matter if it is Cisco, third-party, or a mixture of both.

EDGE360: How do you anticipate security offerings will evolve in the next year or two as hybrid work becomes more ubiquitous?

Yee: Within the next couple of years, expect security to move toward full Zero Trust network adoption. Zero Trust is a strategic approach to security that centers on the concept of eliminating trust from an organization’s network architecture.

Trust is neither binary nor permanent. We can no longer assume that internal entities are trustworthy, that they can be directly managed to reduce security risk, or that checking them one time is enough. The Zero Trust model of security prompts you to question your assumptions of trust at every access attempt. 

Cisco Zero Trust offers a comprehensive solution to secure all access across your applications and environments from any user, device, and/or location. This complete Zero Trust security model allows you to mitigate, detect, and respond to risks across your environment. 

EDGE360: What else should partners know about Cisco’s security products and SASE?

Yee: While we have some of the best products, we rely on distribution and channel partners to generate mutual success. One of the best programs available that all channel partners should be engaging in is the TD SYNNEX EDGE Program, which helps accelerate enablement, adoption, and simplifies the entire Cisco process and experience.

EDGE360: Are there any current security-related incentives or promotions that Cisco partners can take advantage of as they help customers embrace hybrid work solutions?

Yee: There are always incentives and promotions that Cisco partners can take advantage of to help customers with their security and hybrid work solutions. All of our cloud applications have trials available so partners and customers can use the products before they commit, and we partner with TD SYNNEX to enable them to be successful with those technologies. The TD SYNNEX EDGE Program is one of the most valuable resources available to partners that can help them Enable, Develop, Grow, and Extend (EDGE) their business with Cisco.

To learn more about the Hybrid Work Evolution and sign up for a free trial, click here.