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At Cisco Live, AI optimizes networking across the multicloud

Cisco Systems Inc. is investing heavily in tooling to automate network and resource management up and down the cloud-computing stack.

The company’s announcements today at its Cisco Live event in Barcelona show that it remains deeply committed to leveraging artificial intelligence to differentiate its offerings in the multicloud management arena. With its latest announcements, Cisco has extended its AI-driven intent-based networking technology to automate assurance of network connectivity, service levels, security, application segmentation, compliance and other policies across a wider range of multicloud and edge networking environments.

Delivering what many call AIOps, intent-based networking is Cisco’s agile approach for maintaining service levels across distributed data centers. Implemented across Cisco’s hardware, software and services portfolio, intent-based networking uses AI to automate continuous:

  • capture of intent regarding the business and technology outcomes to be achieved through the network;
  • translation of this intent into policies — including application service levels, security policies, regulatory compliance and operational processes — that the network can act on;
  • installation and activation of these policies across the physical and virtual network infrastructure; and
  • monitoring and verification that the desired intent has been applied and the business outcomes are being achieved.

Automated cloud-to-edge IT management

Today in Barcelona, Cisco announced extension of intent-based networking to support management of data centers across a wider range of cloud and edge environments. The key announcements in this regard include:

  • Extension of intent-based networking to any workload, location and cloud: Cisco announced enhancements to its existing “Application Centric Infrastructure” software-defined wide-area networking architecture. The new “ACI Anywhere” environment is embedded in Cisco’s networking hardware products and enabled through its single-pane management tooling. This capability integrates with all hypervisors and container frameworks (including Kubernetes and OpenStack) on which applications are deployed anywhere on cloud, on-premises and edge environments. It enables users to deploy, automate, scale and manage workloads. It allows users to enforce consistent group-based policies on any applications across any combination of container, virtual machine and physical network that they provision to any cloud, on-premises, or edge environment.
  • Integration with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure: Cisco announced full integration of ACI Anywhere’s intent-based networking with AWS and Azure’s respective infrastructure-as-a-service environments. The new “Cloud ACI” capability enables ACI Anywhere to access those public cloud’s APIs to enable automated installation, activation, monitoring and verification of policies into those environments.
  • Software-based virtualization of ACI to remote edge environments: Cisco announced that it is rolling out a software-only Virtual ACI solution to allow customers to extend intent-based networking from on-premises environments all the way out to remote edge locations, bare-metal clouds, colocation providers and “brownfield” environments.
  • Scaling of intent-based networking across multiple sites: Cisco announced a new “Multisite Orchestrator” that has greatly increased scalability of ACI. The tool enables policies to be automatically and securely pushed by ACI to multiple data centers worldwide in a single step.
  • Cross-portfolio solution integration for multidomain intent-based networking: In support of intent-based networking across application domains, Cisco announced the integration of ACI with its SD-Access, SD-WAN, AppDynamics, DNA Center and Identity Services Engine solutions. This enables closed-loop automation of fine-grained policy, security, segmentation, performance and network health monitoring on workloads and data running in any application domain anywhere in the multicloud.

Cloud ACI and Virtual ACI and will be available in the next quarter.

Accelerated edge computing on hyperconverged platforms

Cisco has brought intent-based networking in a big way to the cloud’s expanding edge. Today in Barcelona, it extended enterprise multiclouds more deeply into edge-based data centers with enhancements to its HyperFlex family on hyperconverged infrastructure hardware solutions.

Key announcements in this regard include:

  • Hyperconverged infrastructure from cloud to edge: The new “HyperFlex Anywhere” architecture supports enterprise deployment of a consistent hyperconverged architecture across on-premises, hybrid cloud, and edge environments.
  • High-performance edge devices: The new HyperFlex Edge offerings can be deployed in remote offices, branch offices and edge locations. Incorporating enhanced HyperFlex 4.0 technology, these next-generation devices enable users to extend computing and storage from their core data centers all the way out to the edges of their operations. They can achieve elastic “data center in a box” performance on edge-based analytics and other applications running in branch offices and remote sites. Performance enhancements leverage Intel Optane caching, Intel HX220c M5 All NVMe capacity drives and a new optional hardware offload engine implemented through an add-on PCIe card with an onboard FPGA.
  • AI-driven cloud-to-edge IT operations management: The devices — which can be deployed in clusters as small as two nodes — come equipped with embedded connectors to the cloud-based Cisco Intersight, which supports AI-driven IT operations management, data resiliency and centralized lifecycle management capabilities. Through integration with Intersight, HyperFlex Edge devices can be installed in a fully automated, zero-touch fashion on HyperFlex Edge clusters.
  • Cloud-native integration: The new HyperFlex Edge Devices support cloud-native workloads that execute in RedHat OpenShift Container Platform and data applications that leverage the Kubernetes Container Storage Interface.

HyperFlex 4.0 with Cisco Intersight will be available in the next quarter as well.

Extending its automated network optimization to edge environments

The “internet of things” is radically pushing networks out to the edge, and Cisco has extended its solution portfolio in that direction.

To address those enterprise requirements, Cisco announced the new Catalyst industrial switches and industrial Integrated Services routers for edge applications on the IoT applications. Available now, these new hardware products are powered by Cisco’s IOS XE operating system managed by Cisco DNA Center across campus, branch and wide-area networks.

To drive these networking platforms into more customer deployments, Cisco also announced a new IoT Developer Center that includes learning materials, developer tools and support resources to enable partners to build IoT applications rapidly. It announced new validated blueprints to accelerate IoT proofs of concept for utilities, manufacturing and remote/mobile applications into deployment. And it highlighted its wide range of certified IoT training and professional services partners to help customers deliver IoT projects in these and other verticals.

Taken as a whole, these offerings extend Cisco’s intent-based networking to edge environments across campus, branch and wide-area networks for disparate applications in many industries.

End-to-end multicloud application and resource management

In its CloudCenter Suite, Cisco offers one the premier multicloud management tools on the market. Today in Barcelona, the vendor announced enhancements and addition to the suite to simplify design, deployment and optimization of applications and infrastructure across multiple cloud environments.

CloudCenter Suite incorporates a new modular Kubernetes architecture to support simplified deployment through a self-managed installer on any cloud or on-premises environment. The suite is available on a software-as-a-service subscription basis. The chief additions and enhancements to the suite’s functional modules include:

  • Workload Manager: This core module enables centralized visibility and management of workloads and governance policies. Enhancements enable cloud application developers to compose the dependencies of their multitier applications into an application profile. It then automates deployment of the profile across private and public clouds using a pre-established governance framework consisting of application and infrastructure policies. An embedded recommendation engine enables optimization of infrastructure and applications anywhere on multiclouds. Its core workload management and governance features are available in all licensing tiers, while add-on IaaS extensions, IT service management, continuous integration and deployment, and application management features are only available in the Advantage and Premiere tiers.
  • Cost Optimizer: One of the clear multicloud differentiators for Cisco is its introduction of a cost optimization and governance capability into CloudCenter Suite. This new module enables users to analyze their consumption patterns related to usage of private and public cloud resources. It provides visibility into their total cloud spending for compute, storage, network and other services. It also identifies cost-optimization strategies to help customers minimize cloud overprovisioning and optimize the sizing of their cloud workload instances. In a world of IT budget constraints, this sort of capability is essential for enterprises that want to prevent their hybrid, mesh and other multiclouds from being unmanageable money pits. The module’s cost-reporting capability is available in all of the suite’s licensing tiers, while the add-on remediation and recommendation capabilities are only available in the Advantage and Premiere tiers.
  • Action Orchestrator: This new module provides adaptors and interfaces to simplify orchestration of cloud management actions within the CloudCenter Suite and externally to the managed environments. Its core adapters are available in all licensed versions, while a wider range of adapters are only available in the Advantage and Premiere tiers.
  • Suite Admin: This new module supports centralized administration across all CloudCenter Suite modules. It provides such common services as managing cloud accounts, multitenancy, licensing, monitoring and logging, role-based access control, user authentication and single-sign-on integration.

Cisco CloudCenter Suite subscription on-premises will be available in this quarter. The SaaS version is planned for availability this quarter in North America and in the next quarter in Europe.

Just as important as these product rollouts and enhancements is Cisco’s announcement of its new Enterprise Agreement. Available in March, it offers a simplified three- or five-year licensing agreement that spans Cloud Center, ACI, HyperFlex, Intersight and three other suites. It building-block enrollments provide customers with choice in deployment models and license portability across physical, virtual or cloud deployments.

Taken as a whole, Cisco’s announcements in Barcelona address the core programmability, deployment, optimization and manageability issues that are holding enterprises back from taking the inevitable leap into the multicloud future.

To drill into these and other announcements, SiliconANGLE is at Cisco Live with exclusive commentary and interviews from the livestreaming studio theCUBE. Coverage began at 10:30 a.m. CEST Tuesday, Jan. 29, and will end at 4:30 p.m. CEST Thursday, Jan. 31. (* Disclosure below.)

How to watch theCUBE interviews

SiliconANGLE offers various ways to watch all of theCUBE interviews that will be taking place at Cisco Live, including theCUBE’s dedicated website and YouTube. You can also get all the coverage from this year’s event on SiliconANGLE.

TheCUBE’s dedicated website and Ustream

All of theCUBE’s exclusive interviews from Cisco Live will be available on theCUBE’s dedicated website.

You can also watch all the interviews on the dedicated Ustream channel.

Watch on the SiliconANGLE YouTube channel

All of theCUBE interviews from Cisco Live, which runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, will also be loaded onto SiliconANGLE’s dedicated YouTube channel.


SiliconANGLE also has podcasts available of archived interview sessions, available on both SoundCloud and iTunes.

Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE

Guests who will be interviewed on theCUBE include Cisco Live speakers Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager, Meraki, Cisco; Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of IoT, Cisco; Susie Wee, senior vice president and chief technology officer, DevNet, Cisco; Roland Acra, senior vice president and general manager of data center, Cisco; and Sachin Gupta, senior vice president of enterprise networking, Cisco.

Other guests include Guillermo Diaz, chief information officer and senior vice president, Cisco; Prakash Rajamani, director product management, Cisco; Gordon Thomson, vice president, global enterprise networking, Cisco; Bret Hartman, chief technology officer, Cisco Security Group; and Lynn Lucas, chief marketing officer, Cohesity.

TheCUBE’s lineup also includes Dave Cope, senior director, market development, Cisco Cloud Platform & Solutions Group; Wendy Mars, president, Cisco EMEAR; Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Meraki; and Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of IoT, Cisco.

To check out the complete lineup of guests appearing on theCUBE during Cisco Live in Barcelona, visit theCUBE’s event page.

Livestream of Cisco Live

If you can’t attend the Cisco Live event in Barcelona, you can watch the event livestream here(* Disclosure: Some segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE are sponsored and will be identified. Sponsors have no editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

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