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Cisco shows off AI-driven network analysis at customer event

New tools to help IT departments better understand network behaviour and predict potential problems were among a series of announcements made on the opening day of Cisco Live in the US

Networking supplier Cisco used the opening day of its annual Cisco Live global customer event – which has just got under way in San Diego, California – to show off new network innovations, services and partnerships, including the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) analysis capabilities within its intent-based networking (IBN) product line.

Citing a recent 451 Research report that said two-thirds of enterprises report that their IT departments are facing an increased workload, but only one-third plan to recruit to get around that, Cisco said its product enhancements would help teams struggling under amplified workloads by bringing them personalised, accurate insights into their networks, powered by AI and machine learning.

“As the pace of change and diversity of the environment continues to rapidly evolve, Cisco is committed to continually simplifying our solutions,” said Scott Harrell, senior vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning can enable businesses to efficiently discern which issues to prioritise, becoming more nimble and proactive,” he added. “This will have a profound effect on network operations and the IT teams that run them.”

Cisco claims these new capabilities will: offer more visibility through constantly changing datasets correlated against an established, de-identified dataset to create individual service baselines that change and adapt with the network; offer insights that human observers could never uncover themselves, identifying trends and patterns that might suggest an imminent problem; and use machine reasoning algorithms and workflow automation to perform the logical steps that a network engineer would take to resolve a network problem, helping to get things back on track more quickly.

At the same time, the supplier is adding new services designed to facilitate the creation of an architecture than spans every domain of the IBN world, whether that be campus networks, branch networks, wide area networks (WANs), internet of things (IoT) networks, datacentre networks or cloud networks.

These enhancements include the integration of Cisco SD-Access with Cisco software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and Cisco Application Centric Intrastructure (ACI) for authorising, on-boarding and segmenting users and devices across domains; automated application experience management across domains; and pervasive security features.

Cisco has also added a number of features designed to push its flagship IBN proposition deeper into the IoT in challenging work environments, such as in mines or on oil rigs. These include ruggedised Catalyst switches and access points, managed through DNA Centre, and a new industrial router to bring SD-WAN to the IoT network edge.

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It also reconfirmed its intent to buy Sentryo, a French IoT security firm, to bring what it termed “unparalleled visibility” into operational technology (OT) devices on the IoT.

“A secure connection is the foundation for every IoT deployment,” said Liz Centoni, senior vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s IoT business. “By extending intent-based networking to the IoT edge, we are helping IT and OT teams to work together to reduce operational complexity, boost the bottom line and improve worker safety.”

All of the new services and features will be made available in the next couple of months, said Cisco.

Elsewhere, Cisco announced a number of enhancements to its developer programme, DevNet, and its engineer certifications for users and channel partners, doing more to bring network professionals and software experts together.

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