Cisco “re-invents” networking to make it fit for the future

04 July 2017

Cisco is introducing its Catalyst 9000 switches, built from the ground up to target the demands of mobility, cloud, IoT and security.

Cisco is introducing its Catalyst 9000 switches, built from the ground up to target the demands of mobility, cloud, IoT and security.

What’s described as the “network of the future” has been unveiled by Cisco. The company claims its intuitive system constantly learns, adapts and automates to optimise operations, and stops security threats in their tracks

According to Cisco, organisations are currently managing their networks through traditional IT processes that are not sustainable. The firm says its new system is the result of years of R&D aimed at re-inventing networking for an age where engineers managing hundreds of devices today will be expected to handle a million by 2020. 

By automating the edge of the network and embedding machine learning and analytics at a foundational level, Cisco boasts that it is making the “unmanageable manageable” and allowing IT to focus on strategic business needs.

The company believes it is in a unique position because the vast majority of the world’s internet traffic runs on its networks. As a result, it has been able to capture and analyse valuable data to provide IT teams with insights to spot anomalies and anticipate issues in real-time.

The technologies behind Cisco’s intuitive network include hardware, software and a suite of services designed to work together as a single system.

For instance, the new Network Data Platform and Assurance analytics platform categorises and correlates the vast amount of data running on the network. It then uses machine learning to turn that into predictive analytics, business intelligence and actionable insights. It interprets data in context which, according to Cisco, is what enables the network to provide new insights, resulting in better security, more customised experiences and faster operations.

The network also utilises Cisco’s Talos cyber intelligence and machine learning to analyse metadata traffic patterns. This is designed to identify the fingerprints of known threats, even in encrypted traffic, without impacting data privacy.

Meanwhile, day-to-day tasks such as configuration, provisioning and troubleshooting are automated using SD-Access. Cisco explains that this enables IT teams to move away from “tedious traditional processes” to “automating intent”, making it possible to manage millions of devices in minutes. The company claims SD-Access “slashes” the time it takes to adapt the network, improves issue resolution from weeks and months to hours, and dramatically reduces security breach impact.

NASA, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Wipro are among 75 global enterprises and organisations that are conducting early field trials with the new solutions. Cisco says initial analysis with these customers as well as its own testing have shown SD-Access can reduce network provisioning time by 67 per cent, improve issue resolution by 80 per cent, cut security breach impact by 48 per cent, and lead to opex savings of 61 per cent.

“With this new approach, Cisco is changing the fundamental blueprint for networking with re-imagined hardware and the most advanced software,” states the firm. “This shift from hardware-centric to software-driven networking will enable customers to experience a quantum leap in agility, productivity and performance.”