When you think “enterprise networking,” the company that undoubtedly springs to mind for most people is Cisco Systems. With the majority of the world’s internet traffic running via Cisco core networks, it’s truly a global force to be reckoned with—for that reason, I follow the company very closely and am always looking forward to hearing what new products it’s working on.
The big news from the past year was the change in leadership, with new CEO Chuck Robbins really coming into his own, and doubling down on software and services. Along with that, Cisco has done a lot of good work on their image with the rebranding campaign launched last year and it kept investing in corporate social responsibility. At the end of the day, however, Cisco is a tech company and I’m a tech analyst—I’ve been looking forward to seeing what new tech offerings Cisco brings to the table, along with the new leadership and brand. Today that wait ended, with Cisco’s unveiling of its new “intent-based networking solutions”, which the company is heralding as a significant breakthrough in the realm of enterprise networking. Essentially, Cisco has married its best-in-class enterprise networking with powerful machine learning, transforming the traditional hardware-centric approach to networking into a more software driven one.
The problem with today’s networks
Before I dive into the announcements, I thought it important to highlight why this is important to businesses. Net-net, networks are holding businesses back as most enterprise networks are complex, rigid, hard to change and slow to provision, hard-coded and downright slow to change any kind of security defenses. All this matters because the network touches everything- customers, every app and every interaction, and if you are trying to significantly increase revenue or cut costs or attack any kind of meaningful digital transformation project, the legacy network is likely standing in your way.
Cisco focused on intent, context, and intuition
Cisco Systems says the three main differentiators with these new network solutions are intent, context and intuition. Intent makes it possible to cut out all the traditional, time-consuming processes in favor of automation. With the advent of IoT and the proliferation of millions of devices, networks simply must continue to automate—traditional IT just won’t be able to keep up the speed. Next, context—data interpretation is worthless, if it isn’t being interpreted within the right context. Cisco claims that their new network does just that, allowing the company to speed up operations, better secure infrastructure, and tailor experiences to its customers.
Lastly, intuition—with Cisco being the global leader in networking, it has a vast amount of data at its fingertips. With these new machine learning capabilities, Cisco is seeking to finally utilize this wealth of data to drive insights and business for customers.