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Cisco unveils new ‘intelligent’ approach to networking with brace of product launches

Cloud Management for Cisco Catalyst and Cisco Nexus both aim to bring deeper insights and ease the burden of IT teams

A white Cisco sign suspended from the ceiling of a dark conference room

Cisco has announced two new products that mark a shift in its approach to network management that will shape the company’s portfolio for the coming years.

The networking giant announced Cloud Management for Cisco Catalyst and Cisco Nexus Cloud, two new cloud management services for its campus networking and data centre switch products, respectively.

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Cloud Management for Cisco Catalyst will give customers the option to manage select Catalyst switches and wireless devices in the Cisco Meraki dashboard.

The aim of the new service is to provide customers with the option to increase visibility into the performance of their networking hardware and promote easier management through a single application view.

Catalyst customers can also still use Cisco DNA Center for on-prem management if they wish. They can also use a combination of the two if their needs require it, such as network segmentation for security purposes.

“Meraki is undeniably the simplest cloud management platform on the market, the most adopted, the highest deployed, and bringing these two things together: the powerful simplicity without compromises - I truly believe you can change the way IT is managed to carve a new path that delivers sophistication, power, and simplicity,” said Todd Nightingale,  EVP and GM at Cisco enterprise networking and cloud.

The goal for Cloud Management for Cisco Catalyst is to make troubleshooting the network much easier, added Nightingale, speaking at Cisco Live 2022, and will provide greater visibility into switch configurations, traffic flows, and connected clients.

Cisco’s Nexus data centre switches will also soon be manageable through the new Cisco Nexus Cloud platform, due for release in Autumn 2022.

The core features of the platform were driven by customer feedback and it will “revolutionise” the way customers manage data centre products and also entire private clouds, said Nightingale.

The platform will be powered by Cisco Intersight, the company’s cloud operations management platform, which will mean customers will be able to more easily manage products across public cloud, private cloud, and edge computing environments of any size or scale, according to Cisco.

“Our customers choose to run their businesses on Cisco technology because we sit at the intersection of networking, security and cloud,” said Nightingale. “We believe the network is the foundation for the modern enterprise and must deliver agility through simplicity. Cisco is addressing our customers' most important concern, which is managing complexity through smart, data-driven platforms that power a digital business.”

With Nexus Cloud, customers can gather telemetry from each device and view the network in a dynamic topology, which provides a view into “every endpoint, every virtual machine, every server, and every switch on the network”.

It also introduces capabilities to monitor energy consumption that will help businesses reach their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ambitions. Nightingale said even more environmental features will be coming to the platform in the future, including the ability to limit power consumption in certain areas of the network.

Cisco’s philosophy for network innovation

Key themes have emerged throughout Cisco Live 2022 that revealed the company’s priorities in its approach to product innovation, with particular focus being placed on simplification, visibility, and a shift to a cloud-managed approach.

Rebecca Stone, SVP of customer solutions marketing and CMO at Cisco, said that the increasing complexity of enterprise networks across all industries is growing to a point where the technology is becoming “less scalable and less intelligent”.

Evolving consumer demands and different working environments due to hybrid work arrangements, in addition to the mounting standards that need to be facilitated such as Wi-Fi 6E and private 5G, are also contributing to the complexity networking operations teams are struggling to face, she added.

“It’s causing the IT experience to suffer,” said Stone, speaking at a press and analyst event. “[IT teams] can't manage, they can't scale to all of the demands that are coming today, and so the user experience is really suffering as well.” 

Stone gave the example of everyday professionals facing increasing amounts of friction signing in to all the different services such as email, VPNs, collaboration tools, and other products - using multiple identity and access management clients to access the tools they need every day.

Cisco said it believes the best way to build a solution that can address these issues is to approach it from a platform perspective, which can help unify technologies and ultimately improve the experience for both IT teams and the end-users too.

Meraki management for Catalyst, and Nexus Cloud, aim to address these issues while adhering to three core principles: cloud-driven automation, simple solutions, and providing deep networking insights through greater network visibility.

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