Cisco SignCisco Live, Cisco’s annual conference for customers and partners took place in June, in Orlando, Florida this year.  Along with thousands of attendees, Compudyne took part in the gathering.  The conference includes keynotes from Cisco leadership, breakout sessions covering a myriad of topics, a showroom full of industry solutions, and much more.

The theme for this year’s conference revolved around intent-based networking.  The words ‘Imagine’ and ‘Intuitive’ were on display throughout the Orange County Convention Center.  The meaning and innovation lies in the relationship between business needs and the capabilities of networks today and in the future.

The Network Intuitive

In order to understand the difference between “today’s network” and “tomorrow’s network,” consider an example using a common IT infrastructure:  a datacenter houses servers running business applications; the datacenter connects to core switching, and the core switches feed access layer switches.  The access layer then connects end user devices, printers, and others.  Also consider a firewall, wireless LAN, and a WAN router connecting to branch locations.  Branch locations may have a similar infrastructure and set of end stations.

Given the above infrastructure, imagine a new company-wide initiative that requires the deployment of a solution that includes new devices requiring network connectivity.  These new devices will communicate with a cloud-based application and will require the same security policies, compliance, traffic prioritization, and experience no matter where they are connected.

Booth

Using “today’s network,” the overall implementation, management, and operation of the new initiative can prove to be a daunting task given the need to configure and validate each network infrastructure component.  Going further, consider the effort required to make an alteration or adapt to changing requirements whether it be due to application requirements or an incident such as a security breach.

Now, imagine the network understanding what type of device has been connected.  The network also understands the device requirements and automatically assigns the correct security policies, access profiles, and bandwidth guarantees.  Performance, adaptability, security, compliance, and reliability can all be improved with “tomorrow’s network,” all based on the underlying business requirements.

Summary

As strange as it may seem, Cisco, a company known for hardware solutions, didn’t hide the fact that the ability to deliver on the future of networking lies in the hands of software developers.  “Speeds and feeds” will still matter, but the real innovation lies in software.  Built on Cisco software solutions such as DNA Center and Identity Services Engine, a demonstration of the “network of tomorrow” was performed during the technology keynote.  The majority of this functionality exists today.  An evolution will not occur overnight, but with proper planning, organizations can be primed to take advantage of these new capabilities and gain a competitive advantage.

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