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"You have no choice but to make things more accessible if you want to increase productivity," he said at the Networld+Interop conference in Las Vegas.
Chambers made clear that Cisco's goal is to build security into all phases of network infrastructure so users will have multilayered defences backing up increasingly distributed applications.
Companies, he said, cannot hide behind firewalls and expect to achieve the productivity needed to improve their own bottom lines.
Bob Gleichauf, chief technical officer at Cisco's security division, said the company is trying to provide "transactional security" so users protect individual operations rather than set broad policies that could block future growth.
Customers are still showing signs of resistance to large-scale security spending, he said. "People have balked at security," he said. "They haven't worked it into IT budgets."
Cisco executives said one item that has ticked up in priority more than security is resiliency - a company's ability to rebound from catastrophe.
Mike Volpi, a senior vice-president in Cisco's enterprise group, argued that server uptime and cyber defences are not necessarily the cornerstones of a secure business. Users, he said, need to think outside the server "box".