The Cisco service provider group today introduced its new Crosswork Network Automation system for service providers. The system uses intent-based networking to help operators predict change and react in near real time. Crosswork includes five separate services. “Each of these could have been their own unique launch,” said Jonathan Davidson, Cisco’s SVP and GM of service provider networking.
The company has been making a big push with its intent-based networking since last June when Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins debuted The Network Intuitive.
It might seem as if the Cisco service provider business is just getting into the intent-based networking action. But Davidson said, “We’ve been driving intent-driven infrastructure for years. I think it’s been five years since we acquired Tail-f and renamed it ‘Network Services Orchestrator.’ It’s an intent-driven tool to deploy services throughout their lifecycle.”
Davidson said the first work in intent-based networking “came out of the service provider domain.” It took a “major leap forward with ACI,” he said. And the Network Intuitive launch last June “took it to an entirely new level; we are applying these technologies back to the service provider domain.”
Crosswork Network Automation gives service providers the tools to describe what they want to do and have that intent be delivered. It extends the capabilities of the Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) and Cisco’s WAN Automation Engine (WAE).
Crosswork Network Automation
The five new services being announced today are:
Cisco Data Platform. It features both an open source and commercial data analytics platform. The open source platform uses code from the Linux Foundation’s Platform for Network Data Analytics (PNDA) project.
Cisco Network Insights. This is cloud-based analytics for solving large-scale routing issues. It’s a cloud-delivered software-as-a-service (SaaS) that lets operators understand what’s happening in their Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) infrastructure.
Cisco Situation Manager. This software uses machine learning to correlate events across an operator’s entire infrastructure, logically grouping events so staff can more rapidly determine where problems are happening. It also includes a social aspect for staff to share information rapidly through common tools such as Slack. “Situation Manager has the ability to find a problem that’s existed in the past, grab information from the repository, and apply that directly inside the situation you’re working in,” said Davidson.
Cisco Health Insights includes smart sensors, smart alerts, and smart remediation to monitor and optimize the network; and Cisco Change Automation is an application that automates operations application, providing closed-loop control. “These two tools work together,” said Davidson. “Once a human has been involved in an event the first time, there’s no reason for a human to get involved the next time.” Closed-loop automation means that if a problem happens and it is fixed, then the next time the problem happens, an alert is issued and the problem is solved automatically.
Davidson said Crosswork helps operators with problems they’ve been complaining about. “We hear that over 50 percent of network outages are caused by humans typing directly into consoles,” he said. “Also, they have a tough time of understanding what’s happening across their entire infrastructure.”
The Australian service provider Telstra is already using some of these Crosswork services.