Content, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Cisco Security Set for Executive Changes, Reorganization: Report

BARCELONA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 28: A logo sits illuminated outside the Cisco booth at the SK telecom booth on day 1 of the GSMA Mobile World Congress on February 28, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the world’s largest communications companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and wearables ga...

Cisco Systems appears to be shaking up its security business in order to re-accelerate sales growth. The moves include some executive changes along with consolidating various security products into a single product organization, a report indicated.

Among the four key moves, according to The Information:

  1. The company is "overhauling the structure of the security business," senior vice president Sheila Shankar said in an email to staff on May 10, 2022.
  2. Former Proofpoint VP Raj Chopra has joined Cisco to lead a consolidated security product organization. Previously, the units were housed under individual general managers.
  3. Shelly Blackburn, VP of global security sales, has resigned from Cisco. Blackburn had been with the company for roughly 22 years, according to her LinkedIn bio.
  4. Security vice president Cindy Goodwin Sak will fill Blackburn’s position in the interim while leadership seeks a replacement.

Cisco has not commented to the media about the apparent changes.

Cisco Security: What Quarterly Earnings Reveal

Chatter about the apparent Cisco Security business reorganization surfaces roughly one week before Cisco is scheduled to announce Q3 Fiscal Year 2022 financial results on May 18, 2022.

During Cisco's February 2022 earnings call, an analyst noted that the company's security business grew at the following rates:

  • 18% growth in fiscal 2019
  • 12% in fiscal 2020
  • 7% in fiscal 2021

In stark contrast, security companies such as CrowdStrike and SentinelOne, among many others, have been growing far more rapidly.

Cisco Security Sales: CEO Chuck Robbins' Perspectives

In response to that February 2022 question about Cisco's slowing security growth, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins at the time said:

"I will say that we have room to get better in security and teams are working hard on that. There's a lot of innovative work going on."

Sales of on-premises and perpetual product security gear fell, and supply chain issues pressured the company's hardware-based network firewall business, Robins noted during that February 2022 earnings call.

On a far brighter note,  Cisco's subscription-based security business grew double-digits, Robbins added during that February 2022 call, stating:

"Zero Trust, Unified Threat Management was good growth. And overall, the subscription portfolio grew 15%. We would expect over the next two to three years for that business to continue to get better, and the teams are committed to make that happen."

Cisco Secure MSP Partner Strategy

On the partner front, Cisco is betting heavily on Secure MSP -- a partner portal that will allow MSPs to rapidly select, test and deploy SaaS-based security services for end-customers.

The Cisco Secure MSP portal initially supports Cisco Umbrella. Additional services -- such as Duo multi-factor authentication as well as endpoint security -- are expected to surface in the portal in the months ahead.

Moreover, Secure MSP is designed for partners of all sizes -- regardless of whether they support small, midsize or large organizations.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.