Cisco announces major new intent-based networking initiative

US networking giant Cisco has unveiled what it claims is one of the most significant breakthroughs in enterprise networking in years.

The announcement is more of a heralding of a new era rather than a specific product launch, with the emphasis on intelligent, intuitive, semi-automated networks that are focused on outcomes rather than processes. This is essentially Cisco’s version of intent-based networking, in which you tell the network what you want and it works out how best to do it.

“The network has never been more critical to business success, but it’s also never been under more pressure,” said Chuck Robbins, Cisco CEO. “By building a more intuitive network, we are creating an intelligent platform with unmatched security for today and for the future that propels businesses forward and creates new opportunities for people and organizations everywhere.”

Security seems to be a major intent for this initiative, with the ability to screen even encrypted traffic for cyber-nasties a significant USP. There is a named product associated with this feature: Encrypted Traffic Analytics.

“Cisco’s Encrypted Traffic Analytics solves a network security challenge previously thought to be unsolvable,” said David Goeckeler, GM of Networking and Security at Cisco. “ETA uses Cisco’s Talos cyber intelligence to detect known attack signatures even in encrypted traffic, helping to ensure security while maintaining privacy.”

Here are the component parts of Cisco’s new Digital Network Architecture (DNA):

  • DNA Center – the central control dashboard
  • Software-Defined Access – automation of day-to-day network management tasks
  • Network Data Platform and Assurance – analytics platform
  • Encrypted Traffic Analytics – as above
  • Catalyst 9000 Switching Portfolio – a new family of switches
  • Software subscription – a SaaS component of the portfolio
  • DNA Services – the services component of the portfolio
  • Developer Center – a suite of developer tools

This launch comes hot on the heels of a major new routing announcement from Nokia designed, at least in part, to take the fight to Cisco. Nokia also spoke about greater network automation and improved security in its announcement, so this seems to be the battleground for enterprise networking and the internet backbone for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a Cisco corporate vid that spends a minute and a half labouring the concept of intuition and you can read further analysis of the announcement at Enterprise Cloud News here.

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