Network design

Tech launch disrupts Cisco campus network design

Channel partners take a new approach to Cisco campus network design in light of the vendor’s revised networking plan.

Cisco’s June 20 unveiling of what company executives interchangeably refer to as “intuitive network” and “intent-based network” underscores the company’s growing focus on software, programmability, security and centralized management. The overall goal is to create adaptable, self-learning networks capable of automatically executing responses to security threats and other events. Products that flesh out the company’s vision will be deployed over the next few months.

For Channel Partners, the latest technological advancement from Cisco offers several components to evaluate and evaluate on behalf of customers. Some partners see promises in Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Centerr management console, while others focus on the Cisco Software-Defined Access offering for network automation. The partners also have Cisco’s encrypted traffic analysis technology, which the company says it can find. malware hides in encrypted traffic; a new line of Catalyst switches; and an analysis platform to consider.

And while Cisco’s network gamble offers a lot to digest, it also provides multiple entry points for selling and deploying network offerings.

“There are a few different vectors,” noted David Chandler, Practice Director for Enterprise Network Solutions at World Wide Technology Inc. (WWT), a Cisco systems integrator and value-added reseller based in St. Louis. “You don’t have to choose just one approach.”

Potential customers, use cases

Chandler said WWT will begin to take the intuitive network components to its customers in late summer and early fall, with the goal of improving the functioning of campus and branch networks. The company has already launched a training program to train its field sales, field engineering and professional services staff on Cisco’s new networking platform.

Regarding customer adoption, Chandler cited Cisco’s software-defined access Technology as creating opportunities.

“Due to the nature of this [Cisco Software-Defined Access] done around segmentation and around security and around politics, it has immediate use cases for things like [Payment Card Industry compliance] and also [the internet of things]”said Chandler.

Going forward, this will have a big impact on how we view the deployment of a customer’s campus network.

Jason parryVice President of Customer Solutions, Force 3

According to Cisco, software-defined access uses an automated policy enforcement and network segmentation to reduce network provisioning time and reduce the effects of security breaches.

Chandler said the internet of things (IoT) is particularly suited to the Cisco approach. In an IoT context, Software-Defined Access identifies devices entering a network and automatically categorizes isolates and analyzes them. “From a safety point of view, this is a huge advantage,” he said.

For less specialized customers, the conversation will revolve around automation and the ability to reduce the time it takes to deploy networks, Chandler noted. He mentioned that the mobile capabilities of Cisco’s networking platform will also be a big incentive for customers.

Cisco cited user mobility as a use case for software-defined access. Additionally, the vendor has described its Catalyst 9000 Series switches as “mobile ready” and equipped to host a wireless controller and capable of accommodating emerging wireless standards. like 802.11ax.

Centralized management, security

Management changes are also planned for channel partners, in addition to emerging software-defined elements of the new Cisco campus network design. Rob lopez, Networking Group Director at Dimension Data, Systems Integrator, Managed Service Provider and Partner of Cisco, said Cisco’s networking announcement portends a future in which the vendor will bring its portfolio together, from management perspective, over a period of time. He said the acquisition nature of Cisco has led to a variety of sets of tools and approaches to manage a wide range of products. Cisco DNA Center will help unify the management of Cisco products, he suggested.

A more unified architectural approach and portfolio is “certainly part… of the vision,” Lopez said. “It’s going to be essential to see how they get there. “

On security, Lopez said the Cisco product launch supports the network-as-sensor and the concepts of network as an applicator, which Cisco has already discussed. “This is how all tech companies need to start thinking about securing” networks and devices, “he said.

Jason parry, vice president of customer solutions at Force 3, a network security company and IT solutions provider based in Crofton, Md., agreed that Cisco’s announcement is on track with networking as a senor .

“There really is no better place to attack the security problem, just because everything has to go through networks,” he said.

Parry also cited Cisco’s use of machine learning to identify malware in network packets as another innovative approach to security.

Customer acceptance

New technology lines – especially broad ones – take time for customers to assess and embrace them. Lopez noted the example of Cisco’s Nexus 9000 data center switch and Application-centric infrastructure (ACI) software-defined networking (SDN) approach, which debuted in 2013. He said Dimension Data customers have purchased Nexus 9000 switches, which can support ACI deployments, quite quickly, but that clients only started large-scale ACI projects this year. Lopez said he expects to see a similar pattern with the Catalyst 9000 and DNA Center switches, although he expects the adoption cycle for these technologies to be faster.

This is because the campus environment, where Nexus 9000 switches typically reside, lacks some of the complexities of the data center environment, where IT managers must consider the effects of new technology on compute. , storage and applications.

Parry said that Cisco’s intent-based networking approach essentially takes Cisco’s SDN game in the data center and moves it to the campus and the wide area network. Thus, customers previously exposed to data center SDN – through the ACI framework – could make a smoother transition to the newly announced technologies, he noted.

“If they’ve been exposed to ACI, they’ll go down this route quite easily, understanding the methodology and thought process behind it,” Parry said.

John Bristol, vice president of architectural engineering at Trace3 Inc., an IT solutions provider in Irvine, Calif., said Cisco will face adoption challenges with its end-to-end strategy. He suggested that Cisco might meet particular resistance in the cybersecurity arena, where potential customers have invested in a plethora of one-off products or “very specific top-notch” offerings. He said vendors in the security space will be “difficult to dislodge”.

That said, Bristol noted that Cisco will be able to convince companies to adopt its approach if it can prove the value of the technology through referenced use cases and major customer approval. He believes Cisco is moving in the right direction with their strategy, but said their vision depends on “the execution and, ultimately, the products and services they provide … to make this happen.”

Customers considering Cisco’s new approach to networking “will prove it before they go all out,” Parry added.

Channel partners, meanwhile, will also have some research to do with intention-based networking and its potential to reshape the design of the Cisco campus network. Cisco’s Nexus switch caused a “radical change” in the way Force 3 implemented data center networks, he explained.

“Nexus… has really allowed us to bring new capabilities and we expect nothing less,” Parry said of Cisco’s networking announcement. “Going forward, this will have a big impact on how we view the deployment of a customer’s campus network. “

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