When Cisco introduces its latest product on Wednesday, a tool for monitoring how employees use third-party software, it aims to bolster its offerings in the cloud, meaning internet-delivered services. It also has information technology specialists like Robert Florescu in mind. The head of information technology at New York City-area urgent-care provider CityMD, Florescu must deal with complicated regulations around the privacy of patient data, on top of network security.
That made him a perfect candidate for Cloud Consumption as a Service, which Cisco is launching as a way to help companies manage software employees might download and use independently, for example email programmes like Google's Gmail or file-storage services like Dropbox. While the services, which IT professionals dub "shadow IT," provide convenience for employees, they can create headaches if they expose vulnerability to malware attacks, eat up bandwidth, or fail to comply with laws. Shadow IT is creating a growing corporate challenge. Most companies with over 5,000 employees estimate around 90 such services are deployed around their computer infrastructure, but the actual number is typically over 1,200, according to Cisco executive Bob Dimicco. Of those, more than 40 fall in the high-risk category.
Offering its cloud consumption service, which Cisco plans to bill monthly at a cost of $1-2 per employee, will help Cisco expand its offerings in the fast-growing business area of cloud services.
While switching and routing products make up the bulk of Cisco's revenue, those businesses show lackluster growth. Increasing numbers of customers who once bought all their own switching and routing hardware now are relying on outside vendors who do not tend to use as many Cisco products. So the company has been trying to beef up its offerings catering to the increasingly internet-based technology culture at many companies. It has introduced products like Cisco Meraki, which controls routing and security over the internet, and Cisco WebEx, which offers internet-based video conferencing and similar products.
Many companies, including Cloudability, Netskope and Skyhigh, offer services similar to Cisco's cloud consumption service, but Cisco says its product goes beyond the others because it offers more details on usage and about each individual third-party app provider, such as if it complies with relevant regulations.
As at CityMD, Cisco's product will typically supplement data-security and compliance services such as Digital Guardian.
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