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Cisco adds analytics to its WAN offerings

A pair of products from the networking giant allow administrators to run the rule over their WANs.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The results of Cisco's $610 million purchase of Viptela have begun to arrive, with the networking giant taking the wraps off its new SD-WAN vAnalytics and Meraki Insight products.

Besides measuring WAN performance, the cloud-based SD-WAN vAnalytics offers a number of recommendations to make the WAN perform better, as well as forecasting and an ability to project how a policy change could impact the network.

"We have set an ambitious goal for ourselves of transforming the entire network, from campus to branch, datacentre to edge," said Cisco senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Networking Scott Harrell. "The WAN is a vital part of the network and is one of the toughest to manage."

Speaking at Cisco Live in Melbourne on Thursday, Harrell detailed the size of the shift Cisco is attempting as it tries to move administrators away from command-line interfaces (CLIs) to interfaces that automatically program a network.

"Historically, the way you actually interface with the network is through CLI ... most people today still handle their network that way," he said. "What Cisco is fundamentally trying to do is shift the entire industry and change how you operate your network by moving to fabric-based architectures."

One company that has been piloting the solution, Reece Group, has 600 branch offices and over 5,000 employees, with senior network engineer Peter Castle saying it has greatly reduced the time to make configuration changes.

"A particular config change and deploy across our entire WAN took an external team about three months progressively across a number of sites to make that change, and it cost us around AU$30,000 to do," Castle said. "Now, I can make similar changes or much bigger changes to our entire SD-WAN network in a half-hour change window, at no cost."

Alongside vAnalytics, the company also detailed Meraki Insight, which will be part of the Meraki dashboard.

"With Meraki Insight, customers can understand and troubleshoot both internal and external issues that can contribute to poor user experience for applications hosted in a remote datacentre or in the cloud," the company said.

SD-WAN vAnalytics is available now to SD-WAN licensees, while Meraki Insight is unreleased and will be sold as a separate product.

Earlier this week, Cisco announced it had updated its Tetration analytics platform with security tools designed to segment applications, identify vulnerabilities and exposure, and manage processes. The company said Tetration could prove effective against threats such as Spectre and Meltdown.

While on Wednesday, Cisco's SVP and GM for Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications Division Rowan Trollope told ZDNet that IoT was not a radical departure for a traditionally networking-focused organisation.

"There are some unique problems, and we are thinking about those, but we are also taking our existing technologies and applying them to these new use cases," he said.

"It's a traditional computer security problem ... so we are doing that same kind of thing for cars and for other kinds of devices, and some of that security lives in the network itself."

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.

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