Cisco expands intent-based networking to IoT, unveils new Catalyst switch

THE BAHAMAS – Cisco is hoping to continue its momentum in intent-based networking with new security, automation, and analytics announcements at its annual Partner Connection Week (PCW) 2018 in Nassau, The Bahamas, from Apr. 17-19.

The company has revealed enhancements to its intent-based networking portfolio – Cisco DNA – by extending its capabilities include to Internet of Things IoT devices in an effort to help partners keep up with changes in the technology ecosystem. There are three parts to this announcement:

Securing IoT devices starts with visibility and a new a software upgrade to Cisco’s Identity Service Engine (ISE) will allow just that. Partners will gain better visibility and insight into all the IoT devices connecting to a customer’s network through ISE, which can recognize detailed data such as manufacturer, model number, and software installed. Generally availale now, ISE works across wired, wireless, and VPN connections and essentially gives DNA – and customers – more actionable intelligence.

“This isn’t for iPhones or Apple TV’s, this is for industry organizations onboarding devices like infusion pumps, conveyor belts, that sort of stuff,” says Sachin Gupta, the senior vice president of enterprise networking. “With ISE, partners and customers increase their visibility into devices operating on their networks, getting insights that will help them streamline business operations.”

Along with ISE, Cisco is also extending the capabilities of SD-Access, its automation tool for network administrators that makes access configuration and management easier. First announced in June 2017, the new version announced at PCW 2018 simplifies network segmentation as a way to handle the rapid surge of devices in extended enterprise such as distribution centres, warehouses, and manufacturing plants, as well as outdoor environments like roadways or oilrigs.

Again through DNA, SD-Access enables IT teams to easily extend network policies with no additional management overhead. This is in beta until the end of Q3FY18 and will be generally available as a subscription model in Q4.

“SD-Access can help customers easily segment different parts of their business into different virtual networks – like keeping manufacturing separate from the building management system, for example – which makes management easier and helps increase security as well,” Gupta adds.

Lastly, Cisco has also rolled out a new Operational Insights cloud-based service, which gives IT teams location analytics to track assets and IoT devices, as well as collect data from sensors. Major use-cases for this include the healthcare industry, as well as manufacturing and retail – all of which require intense safety and optimized operations at all time. The Operation Insights tool can help teams sense in real time if there will be a system failure or some other problem, and locate the faulty device(s) in real time so the organization never misses a beat.

Partners react to the expanded capabilities

Clayton Daffron, the director of solution architecture at Denali, a North American IT solution provider specializing in healthcare, tells CDN that moving its customers to Cisco DNA has been a journey but its new upgraded capabilities are getting them to embrace the end destination.

“DNA provides the building blocks and customers are starting to take the initial steps because there are so many opportunities for innovation,” he explains. “There’s been an explosion of connected devices – especially in healthcare – but many of these are not being chosen by IT teams, it’s professionals like nurses or physicians who want what’s easiest to use. But these are essentially consumer-grade devices in an industry where security is critical, so DNA helps them automate onboarding securely and allows those endpoints to run securely.”

Faisal Bhutto, vice president of enterprise networking, cloud, and cybersecurity at Computex, another Cisco partner, echoes these thoughts and adds how it’s helping partners grow their business.

“When DNA and ISE and everything was first announced, customers were skeptical but the simplicity it offers is something they’ve always wanted,” says Faisal Bhutto, vice president of enterprise networking, cloud, and cybersecurity at Computex. “For us as an MSP, we don’t make money until we onboard a customer and these new tools are helping us onboard much faster at scale. We essentially have pre-canned policies and methodologies our customers can implement across the board and our journey to revenue is much quicker.”

New Catalyst switch products

In addition to all of Cisco’s intent-based networking announcements, it has also revealed Catalyst 9500, the latest edition to its ever-growing family of campus switches. The 9500 is the industry’s first 100G enterprise-class switch that can also seamlessly integrate services like Cisco’s Encrypted Traffic Analytics and Netflow without compromising performance.

The company is also adding an optimized 25G switch that can extend the reach to 300m.

Cisco has launched the Aironet 4800 Access Point to its portfolio as well, which is an all-in-one access point with a 24/7 dedicated radio for security and analytics, real-time telemetry, and hyperlocation. It will be available in Q3FY18.

“This access point is ideal for customers using the assurance capabilities in DNA Center, as it can provide analytics with Live Assurance technology that can prove when downtime is not a network issue,” the company says.

“Reaction to the new [Catalyst 9500] device has been great. We’re leading with the platform because it lets us jump right in and get our customers up and running faster,” Computex’s Bhutto explains. “It’s a platform that allows for tighter connectivity with other Cisco products and it makes us as partners more valuable because we can bring it all together.”

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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