At Cisco Live Europe, which is currently under way in Berlin, Germany, the networking sector bellwether has been sharing insight into the future of digital-ready networks, and has announced a number of new products and technologies to exploit this trend.
Speaking ahead of the opening keynotes, Cisco Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (Emear) managing director of architectures, Gordon Thomson, said the digitisation process was placing intense stresses on the enterprise networking infrastructure.
“The complexity we are creating around digitisation means we need to think very carefully about the investments we make as we build out our network infrastructure for the future,” said Thomson.
Over the past 12 months, Cisco has been pushing its Digital Network Architecture (DNA) strategy, which Thomson summed up as overseeing the process of moving from a hardware-centric to a software-centric world.
“We want to move to a world where everything becomes far more programmable and automated, and as we do that, we can hopefully make things more secure and proactive,” said Thomson. “This is at the heart of the strategy and how we believe we can help our customers build the networks of tomorrow today.”
To support its vision, Cisco conducted an in-depth study of more than 2,000 worldwide enterprises, with help from analysts at IDC. It found that 45% of customers expected to begin to achieve digital-ready network capabilities within the next two years, a three-fold increase on the current adoption rate.
Meanwhile, the report said, those that had invested in upgraded networks were already reaping the benefits, seeing an average of two to three times the rate of growth in revenue, customer retention and profit compared with their peers. Also, these businesses had deployed twice as many digitisation initiatives compared with those still running legacy networks.
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Businesses in the UK, Australia and the US were found to be the furthest along this path, and Cisco said the most significant jump in digital maturity up to 2019 was expected to take place in China, India and Mexico.
To speed its customers along this path, Cisco has announced a network assessment tool for those keen to understand where they are on the journey, to benchmark against their competitors, and to begin to plot a roadmap towards the future. It also introduced new DNA Advisory Services offering in-depth consulting to help enterprises formulate their strategy.
At Cisco Live, Cisco announced a new purpose-built branch platform, Cisco Enterprise Network Compute System (ENCS 5400 Series) to accelerate enterprise network functions virtualisation (NFV) deployment. The ENCS 5400 Series will enable users to extend routing, security, wide area network (WAN) optimisation and other network services out to their branch office environments.
It also launched the Secure Agile Exchange to virtualise network perimeters and extend it to colocation centres, enabling businesses to connect customers, employees and partners with on-demand, virtualised networks.
On the security side, the supplier added a new version of its Identity Services Engine to offer much deeper insight into, and control of, users and devices on the network, including the ability to define “Defcon” policy sets to let businesses escalate their security posture in the event of a new threat.
Finally, Cisco upgraded its TrustSec product to include software-defined network segmentation capabilities to isolate attacks and restrict movement around the network. It said this would make security policy changes 98% faster than before, with a reduction of 80% in operational efforts for security teams, all the way from the edge, to the datacentre, to the cloud.