Cisco software to make networks smarter, safer, more manageable

Cisco software announced at Cisco Live embraces AI to help customers set consistent network and security policies across their domains and improve intent-based networking.

SAN DIEGO—Cisco injected a number of new technologies into its key networking control-point software that makes it easier to stretch networking from the data center to the cloud while making the whole environment smarter and easier to manage.

At the company’s annual Cisco Live customer event here it rolled out software that lets customers more easily meld typically siloed domains across the enterprise and cloud to the wide area network. The software enables what Cisco calls multidomain integration that lets customers set policies to apply uniform access controls to users, devices and applications regardless of where they connect to the network, the company said.

The company also unveiled Cisco AI Network Analytics, a software package that uses AI and machine learning techniques to learn network traffic and security patterns that can help customers spot and fix problems proactively across the enterprise.  

All of the new software runs on Cisco’s DNA Center platform which is rapidly becoming an ever-more crucial component to the company’s intent-based networking plans.  DNA Center has always been important since its introduction two years ago as it features automation capabilities, assurance setting, fabric provisioning and policy-based segmentation for enterprise networks. 

Beyond device management and configuration, Cisco DNA Center gives IT teams the ability to control access through policies using Software-Defined Access (SD-Access), automatically provision through Cisco DNA Automation, virtualize devices through Cisco Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and lower security risks through segmentation and Encrypted Traffic Analysis.  But experts say these software enhancements take it to a new level.

“You can call it the rise of DNA Center and it’s important because it lets customers manage and control their entire network from one place – similar to what VMware does with its vCenter,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research.  vCenter is VMware’s centralized platform for controlling its vSphere virtualized environments.

“Cisco will likely roll more and more functionality into DNA Center in the future making it stronger,” Kerravala said.

Together the new software and DNA Center will help customers set consistent policies across their domains and collaborate with others for the benefit of the entire network. Customers can define a policy once, apply it everywhere, and monitor it systematically to ensure it is realizing its business intent, said Prashanth Shenoy, Cisco vice president of marketing for Enterprise Network and Mobility. It will help customers segment their networks to reduce congestion, improve security and compliance and contain network problems, he said.

“In the campus, Cisco’s SD-Access solution uses this technology to group users and devices within the segments it creates according to their access privileges. Similarly, Cisco ACI creates groups of similar applications in the data center,”

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