A View from the Cisco Partner Stage
Intent-Based Networking: I was one of four partners participating in media roundtable just a few weeks ago, when Cisco held its 2017 Partner Summit. The topic was The Network. Intuitive., Cisco’s version of intent-based networking. Later the panel reflected on what it means to “Own IT.” As we prepare for 2018, four critical success factors emerged:
- Understanding the role of the network in supporting business objectives.
- Getting deeper insights into the network.
- Balancing man and machine
- Optimizing the infrastructure
Understanding the role of the network in supporting business objectives: By now, everybody got the memo on intent based-networking being the path forward for the industry (if you didn’t, Channel Partners offers a free report on the topic). As a refresher, here’s Cisco’s definition, as unveiled at Cisco Live US in June: “Intent-based networking describes a network that has the intelligence and automation necessary to set and modify its configurations to meet the organization’s business needs. An intent-based network can continuously align itself to required service levels, security, and IT compliance policies.”
The ubiquity of the network and increasing amounts of time online have led all of us to expect faster and more enriching online experiences. From an enterprise POV, this includes employees getting their jobs done in the fastest, most efficient way possible. From a customer perspective, it means no holdups at the PoS system in retail or in getting accurate MRI results delivered securely to their physicians, for example. Business intent is all about living up to user expectations.
Getting deeper insights into the network: We all know the masses of data generated by people, things, apps and devices will continue to grow exponentially. From a networking perspective, one of the biggest challenges in the rise of big data is the ability to separate the thousands of signals from the noise.
An intuitive network is not just one that alerts you to potential issues, it’s one that helps you identify and make sense of those alerts. What are they telling you – or not telling you – about the health of your network, and how it will impact the business? For machine learning and AI to be relevant to the network of the future requires balancing man and machine. Keeping a “human-in-the-loop” – someone who incorporates the expertise and understanding of network engineers and takes advantage of machine learning and predictive analytics – ensures continuous learning, automation of routine networking tasks and optimized digital experiences for people and IoT-enabled assets.
Bringing this all together – business intent, deeper insights, and balancing man and machine in the network – results in a fully optimized network infrastructure. What exactly does that look like?