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Cisco launches next-gen networking suite to address post-pandemic ‘new normal’

Networking technology and services giant makes significant expansion of network line as it recognises that as workforces become increasingly hybrid, traditional network and security frameworks can no longer keep pace

Cisco has launched a new suite of networking systems designed to enable users to build the architecture for their business in the new world defined by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new offerings encompass three core elements: a new, expanded secure access service edge (SASE) architecture; full stack visibility of network applications; and new network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions designed to deliver simpler IT and flexible procurement for customers looking for greater speed, agility and scale.

Todd Nightingale, SVP and general manager, enterprise networking & cloud at Cisco, told Computer Weekly that in the products’ design, the company was trying to think about where its customers were going, given that they would almost certainly need to change their infrastructure in the next six to 18 months.

“For the last year, there has been this huge focus on pandemic response and I think this has started to give a real feeling of why the technology needed to be more agile, needed to be faster and deployed faster, so that firms could change faster to understand what was happening and adapt,” he said.

“In the technology development space, we have to build that technology that we believe is going to be relevant in the next year or for many years. We need to build technology that allows our user base to be agile, so that they can change their infrastructure in one day, in really the click of a button.

“What we say is that you need the insight to be able to see what’s really happening to understand and how well your users are doing. We saw this transition during the pandemic that everyone had transformed to the work-from-home model overnight. And if you were in this small group of folks who were in critical infrastructure, it was in fact in some ways even harder because you had to change the way your work was done.

“In order to be more agile, people did transform their infrastructure to be more platform-based, with an automation and insights-based infrastructure. They also moved their workloads to the cloud and became more agile.”

Leading Cisco’s launch is the expanded SASE architecture, which is said to deliver complete protection, from endpoint to the cloud. The launch is said to be a response to not just addressing the needs of the new hybrid model of work in maintaining remote work access, but also taking consideration of the commensurate increased complexity in managing networks and expanded attack surface of users, devices, applications and data.

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Cisco believes that as the hub of work shifts from the datacentre to the user, a SASE architecture has emerged as a top organisational priority to provide seamless connection to applications. It says its new architecture is designed to bring “radical” simplicity to security with SecureX platform enhancements that significantly reduce time to detect and remediate security threats. The SASE offer also brings the ability to purchase all core components in a single offer and transition to a unified subscription service in the future.

“As the workforce is increasingly hybrid, traditional network and security frameworks can no longer keep pace with this new way of doing business,” said Gee Rittenhouse, SVP and GM of Cisco’s security business group. “There has never been a more critical time to deliver something radically different, as every customer is unique and needs flexibility when determining how a SASE architecture fits into their environment. When it comes to transformation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and moving to a SASE framework is no different.”

Visibility beyond the corporate network is also said to be increasingly critical as technology teams accelerate the adoption of software as a service, internet and cloud solutions for hybrid work strategies. In this regard, Cisco has launched what it calls the industry’s first full stack visibility offering by integrating ThousandEyes internet and cloud intelligence technology with the Cisco switching portfolio and AppDynamics.

IT will have visibility and actionable insights into external networks and services, as well as within the corporate network.

With its Cisco Plus programme, the company says it is giving customers choice to buy how they want, providing a bridge to the as-a-service paradigm to deliver simpler IT, and flexible procurement for customers looking for greater speed, agility and scale. Cisco Plus offers include flexible consumption for datacentre networking, compute and storage.

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