Cisco rewriting the networking rulebook

TORONTO – Cisco Systems in 2016 drove the narrative for digital transformation. As the calendar turned to 2017 the networking giant wants to bring more attention to a new kind of transformation – network transformation.

The story hasn’t changed much from last year, Cisco is still saying the network touches everything and it’s the doorway to the digital era. But the Canadian subsidiary is articulating that the legacy approach taken to networks today will become tomorrow’s roadblock for digital innovation.

At a special roundtable presentation held at Cisco’s Canadian Innovation Centre, Jeff Reed, the senior vice president for Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure and Solutions, detailed how Cisco DNA solutions can help networks become digital ready.

Cisco DNA stands for Digital Network Architecture and it was released in the early part of 2016. DNA is a platform specific for the digitization of business with built-in automation features and security. It also features Jasper technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif., vendor Cisco acquired that has an IoT connectivity management platform.

“The big three mega trends (IoT, Cloud, Mobile) may sound cheesy but they are real. It changes the network and customers are now fundamentally rethinking how they are using their networks with cloud,” Jeff Reed

Reed provided CDN with a Fortune 100 company example where the network breaks down. This company has 45,000 network devices and more than 40,000 configurations. The IT team does 1,100 network changes a month.

Reed said almost all of these changes are done manually (95 per cent). Approximately 80 per cent of those have a human mistake.

“The light bulb went on in my head a few years ago and now users want to transition to an automated network,” he said.

Reed cautioned, however, that it’s still early in the journey for organizations to have digital ready networks. But the Cisco DNA architecture would have these principles organizations should look at:

  • Cloud Service Management for policy;
  • Automation, policy control from core to edge;
  • Analytics, network data with contextual insights; and
  • Virtualization with physical and virtual infrastructure plus application hosting.

“In the future the network will enable apps throughout in an open API framework, right on top of the network,” Reed said.

Cisco DNA has a five phase road map of which three are available today.

  1. Base Automation for greenfield and brownfield opportunities;
  2. SDN/Automated Enterprise, controller based networking with assurance across WAN, LAN and wireless;
  3. Advanced Network and Security Analytics, this is a next generation threat detector with analytics app;
  4. Scheduled for 2018 is a Single Cross-domain Orchestration solution that will see the network used as an app and policy is enforced on all PC domains; and
  5. For 2020 a Self-Driving network that enables policy based compliance to drive optimization.

Research firm IDC has looked into Cisco DNA and have created a study based on early adopter insights called IDC Business Value of Creating Digital Ready Networking with Cisco DNA Solutions 2017.

IDC found that Cisco DNA lead to a more efficient networking staff by 28 per cent. Approximately 17 per cent delivery of new apps because of this solution. And, it led to 42 per cent faster WAN deployments.

Overall IDC found $48,000 average annual benefit based on 100 employees. The five-year ROI reached 402 per cent, according to IDC figures.

IDC further broke down the $48,000 per 100 employee savings this way:

  • IT staffing productivity: $24,052;
  • Business Productivity: $14,347
  • IT Infrastructure Cost Reduction: $5,773; and
  • Risk Mitigation/User Productivity: $3,945.

Reed added that Cisco Meraki dashboard is part of this digital network deployment strategy.

“About 75 per cent to 80 per cent of cost and time in the IT department is on operations. Keeping the lights on. And, I have not met one person who told me they were growing their IT staff. They all said they need to do more with the same staff,” he said.

Cisco DNA will have a large security component to it. Reed said that the popularity of Bitcoin has providing cyber criminals with a way to get rewarded for their security threats as well as fund other hacking activities.

About 51 per cent of companies have reported a least one $10 million loss because of a security threat.

Cisco DNA has StealthWatch, which acts as a sensor and enforcer along side Cisco’s Identity Services Engine. StealthWatch can transform the network into a sensor to detect security threats and then take the next step as an enforcer that puts a stops to threats.

One quick hit before I go. John Corley is coming back to Canada. He has accepted a new position as president of Xerox Canada Ltd.  Corley recently serving as president of the global Channel Partner Operations and as vice president for Xerox Corporation in the U.S.

In his 22-years at the document company, Corley held many executive positions such as running global channel operations. Corley is a member of the 2008 class of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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