Cisco launched the “second wave” of its intent-based networking, which the company says now spans its entire networking portfolio. Its new assurance software continuously verifies the network is operating as intended, the company claims.
The goal is to allow companies to stretch network visibility, context, and automation “from campus to branch to core to data center, to give them the ability to get more insight into what’s going on in their network and then to take action on that in a more predictable and faster way,” said David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager of networking and security, on a call with reporters.
Cisco last June announced its intent-based networking, which initially automated some configuration and other tasks in the access network. The first applications involved using network data to detect malware in encrypted traffic without decryption. Earlier this month Cisco expanded this technology, called Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA), from its campus switches across its enterprise routing platforms including its branch office routers.
What Is Assurance?
Today, at its Cisco Live event in Barcelona, Spain, the company rolled out three new assurance software products. Assurance, in the context of intent-based networking, refers to the ability to continuously verify the network is operating as intended.
As Goeckeler explained, there are three key phases to intent-based networking. First, the translation phase translates policy into what you want the network to do. Second, the activation phase programs that intent into the network. Assurance is the third phase.
“That assurance side is what this launch is about, which is fully activating that data from inside the network,” he said.
The three new assurance products cover data center; campus and branch; and edge networking.
Network Assurance Engine
In the data center, the Network Assurance Engine product provides continuous verification that the network is performing up to expectations. It uses mathematically accurate models of the network to pinpoint when and why there is a problem, and then it offers suggestions on how to address the problem.
“It allows our customers to, through a visual tool, see everything that is supposed to be connected in their data center,” Goeckeler said, adding that the tool also allows companies to visualize and predict the impact of policy changes. It shows “both the positive and the negative outcomes, so when they make that change they know if it’s going to have the exact, intended consequence,” he said.
DNA Center Assurance
The second product is DNA Center Assurance for campus and branch networks. It aggregates data from the network, application, client, and connected things to help provide an IT department with context.
It gives companies a 360-degree view of the network, across wired and wireless environments. “And not only in the current, right now, but we’re able to create a history of what’s happened over time,” Goeckeler said.
This is useful for problem isolation because it helps IT isolate where a problem happened in real time, and it allows users to go back in time to when an issue occurred. Cisco claims these capabilities will reduce the 43 percent of time that IT spends troubleshooting.
Scotiabank, which used the software in an early field trial, found that DNA Center “moved trouble shooting to the first degree of IT operations,” said Nicholas Yurkovich, the Canadian bank’s chief network engineer. “You’re seeing the health of your wireless network, your wired network, and you can point out issues whether they be wireless related, wire related, or even client related. Nine out of 10 calls can be handled by the service desk, versus the Scotiabank engineering team.”
Meraki Wireless Health
The third product, Meraki Wireless Health, integrates DNA Center and the Meraki dashboard, providing network visibility and analytics across wireless environments like remote and extended branch offices. It uses Meraki’s cloud-managed IT model to automate operations, and DNA Center to identify wireless anomalies, find poorly performing access point and clients, and provide insights to improve network performance.
The first two products are available now; Meraki Wireless Health will be available later this quarter. Companies can license the software on a subscription basis.