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Transforming Day-2 Operations with Cisco Data Center Network Assurance and Insights

By Thomas Scheibe, Cisco

January 22, 2020

The challenge of operating a data center has never been greater. But the opportunities have never been larger. Today, data-driven businesses (which is to say, most businesses) are changing rapidly to stay competitive. There are more applications than ever, and more different classes of people and machines using the applications. And there’s constant change in the shape of business infrastructures, as data “centers” become less centralized thanks to edge and cloud-based storage and compute resources.

The opportunity for us in IT is to enable these changes. When we do this well, IT is in strategic partnership with business. Being flexible and responsive to business means that strategic planners will find encouragement for their plans in the technology core where we work, which makes IT leaders copilots in business growth.

But the only way for IT to offer this level of service is to have deep understanding of what the data center is doing, how everyone and everything is using it, how it is responding to the demands on it, and most importantly, how it will respond to new loads that arise due to new business processes.

Intent-based networking helps network operators get ahead, instead of playing catch-up.

Most of these capabilities are part of running a network, what is now often called Day 2 Operations. (For the record, Day 0 is design and procurement; Day 1 is installing, provisioning, segmenting – getting it running.)

To make Day 2 Ops easier for our customers, we’re happy to announce today that Cisco is expanding its Data Center Network Assurance and Insights suite to include new Network Insights capabilities. This portfolio of software analytics capabilities for existing Cisco data center installations — whether they’re based on DCNM or ACI – can analyze every component of a data center to first, assure business intent; second, guarantee reliability; and finally, identify performance issues in a network before they happen.

These new capabilities enable people in IT operations to do their jobs more easily, and in the process, add value to the data center and the business itself. It is part of our drive to bring intent-based networking to our customers, so they can spend more time thinking about what they want their installations to do, and less time worrying about how they will do it.

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To keep a network running smoothly, we are adding service reliability functions to Network Insights. New features  will gather system-level wide data from every Cisco switch in the fabric, detect anomalies before they impact applications, and notify operators of these issues before they affect the integrity of  network services. Network Insights can also provide proactive upgrade advice for devices across the fabric.

If a problem should arise, our intelligent analytics capability will identify the root cause, using real-time flow telemetry from devices in the fabric. This feature monitors application patterns, latency data, packet drops, and other metrics to allow for fast correlation between infrastructure status and actual network traffic.

We are adding more assurance capabilities as well. The new change verification feature allows operators to understand the impacts of changes by modeling them before they are implemented in the fabric.

With all these new capabilities, we will provide a common solution, one that works across ACI and NX-OS, as we  transform Day 2 Operations from reactive to proactive.

Intelligent Analytics pinpoints policy drop events and correlates to flow and tenant context.

Brad Casemore, IDC Research vice president, understands the value of this mission. He says,

“Driven by the imperative of digital transformation, enterprise IT is under unprecedented pressure to align with strategic business objectives and rapidly deliver business outcomes. As a result, network operations must be capable of using automation to deliver services faster, provide real-time intelligence to increase operational agility, and to reduce the time required to troubleshoot and remediate issues and prevent unplanned outages. Cisco Network Assurance and Insights addresses this need by predicting the impact of changes, providing in-depth fabric visibility  through comprehensive telemetry and data correlation to help operations teams remediate issues quickly and deliver the business transformation required to stay ahead of competitors.”

We can’t wait for you to get your hands on our new suite of tools. Learn more on our new feature site: Cisco Network Insights for Data Center. And if you will be at Cisco Live Barcelona on January 29, 2020, join me at my Innovation Talk, Digital Transformation: Application Deployment, Infrastructure Automation, and Assurance.

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