Cisco unveils its vision to simplify networking and all it entails

Simplicity was a key word used today during Day One of Cisco Live 2023 in Las Vegas, as Cisco Systems Inc. unveiled its vision for what it described as an “integrated management platform experience for both on-prem and cloud operating models.”

Known as Cisco Networking Cloud it is, the company said, built to proactively manage the network, eliminate silos, ensure performance, and reduce human workload.

“Managing networks in today’s era of connecting everyone, everywhere is hard,” a release stated. “According to Cisco’s State of Global Innovation report, 85 per cent of IT professionals indicate they value simplicity in their IT systems. Simplicity becomes increasingly important with the advancement of cloud, IoT, Wi-Fi + 5G, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and security.

“With so many technologies and applications coming together, it can be difficult for IT staff to deliver a consistent, unified experience whether in the office, at home, or on the go.”

A simplified IT experience, Cisco added, influences customer satisfaction, employee retention, and competitive differentiation.

Describing it as a “first step,” the company said it would deliver the following features across its existing networking products portfolio, all of which are designed to increase operational simplicity, efficiency, and reliability:

  • Single sign-on (SSO), simplifying access across Cisco networking platforms.
  • API key exchange/repository, when linked with SSO, making it easier for Cisco networking platforms to connect and exchange data through automation to reduce friction and opportunities for error.
  • Cross-platform navigation, delivering more seamless navigation between Cisco networking platforms.
  • Common user interface across Cisco networking platforms, bringing greater consistency and ease of use across a customer’s operational functions.

In addition, there have been enhancements made to Cisco ThousandEyes, the company’s SaaS-based platform that monitors network infrastructure, troubleshoots application delivery and maps Internet performance.

These include:

  • Expanded visibility into internet and cloud networks, with new vantage points on Meraki
    MX and Webex RoomOS devices.
  • Faster insights into incidents impacting digital experiences with new automated Event
    Detection, plus insight into AWS connections for enhanced troubleshooting.

In a blog released today, Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager of Cisco Networking, wrote that the reality today is that “complexity constricts IT across so many industries. Silos and inefficiencies separate dashboards, teams, and technologies, leaving them vulnerable. Progress in one area, like connectivity, increases the threat surface in another. While IT teams are enabling the audacious – hybrid work, modernizing industries, and building greener economies – they often do it blindfolded and handcuffed.

“Is it working? Not very well. It’s been costly and risky. Is it scalable? Not very … it’s been frustrating and time-consuming. For those who have succeeded, it’s like winning a championship game – heroic, but lots of sweat, stamina, and swearing.

“What if we could collapse everything into a simple press of a button? No more navigating dozens of systems and platforms to enable one outcome. No need to switch from one tool to provision, another to manage policy, and yet another to monitor alerts. If technologies, apps, and networks acted as one, it would simplify IT and help you create more unified customer experiences.”

Cisco Networking Cloud, wrote Davidson, “binds the applications under Cisco Networking, including Meraki, ThousandEyes and Cisco Catalyst, to act as one. We are fighting rising complexity with radical simplification.”

There was a number of other announcements – further coverage will appear this week – at the user conference and one in particular revolved around the burgeoning hybrid workspace.

The big news involved the launch of the Room Bar Pro, a video bar that, Cisco said, is “designed for simple set up and seamless connectivity across a variety of medium-sized workspaces.”

Snorre Kjesbu, senior vice president and general manager of Webex Devices at Cisco, wrote in a blog released today that “as our sector continues to innovated ever-advancing experiences for the future of meetings, organizations need powerful technology that can support it – today and tomorrow. Simultaneously, organizations need technologies that can be mass deployed so that intelligent experiences can be scaled to every conference room, not just the board room.

“The Room Bar Pro is optimized for medium workspaces or five to 10 seats. For good reason, we asked facilities experts about their top workspace priorities and 73 per cent say that they are most likely to video-enable medium spaces in the next three years. Medium-sized rooms are top of mind for our customers as they prepare to return to (the) office.”

It is also expected to support a native Microsoft Teams Rooms experience by sometime next month.

As far as Microsoft is concerned, Kjesbu wrote that “our vision at Cisco has always been to uplevel hybrid work for every person, regardless of where or how they work. To support our customers’ varied workstyles and use of multiple meeting platforms, we announced that Cisco devices will support a native Microsoft Teams Rooms experience.

“Today, we have a range of certified devices for Microsoft Teams Rooms.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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