Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) has articulated its vision for future business networks. "Intent-based networks" will leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics capabilities to create an "intuitive" network that provides high performance in a highly secure manner. The company also announced several software- and hardware-based products (the latter including new members of the Catalyst 9000 switch line) under its Digital Network Architecture (DNA) umbrella to begin the evolution toward such networks.
Intent-based networks combine a knowledge of intended business outcomes with the ability to evaluate data in context (including identifying threats, even in encrypted data streams), and develop "intuition" via machine learning at scale to help automate network operations. The newly announced elements of the DNA portfolio that Cisco expects will help enable intent-based networks include:
- The DNA Center, a centralized management dashboard designed to provide visibility into design, provisioning, policy, and assurance across the entire network.
- Software-Defined Access (SD-Access, not to be confused with ADTRAN's PON management approach of the same name), which uses automated policy enforcement and network segmentation over a single network fabric to simplify network access. It offers automation of such tasks as configuration, provisioning, and troubleshooting.
- The Network Data Platform and Assurance analytics platform that Cisco says uses machine learning to transform network data into predictive analytics, business intelligence, and actionable insights via the DNA Center Assurance service.
- Encrypted Traffic Analytics, which uses Cisco's Talos cyber intelligence and machine learning to analyze metadata traffic patterns and thus identify known threats in encrypted traffic without decrypting it and affecting data privacy. Cisco says the capability can detect threats in encrypted traffic with up to 99% accuracy, with less than 0.01% false positives.
- New Catalyst 9000 switches, including Catalyst 9300, 9400, and 9500 families.
- Software subscriptions for the new Catalyst 9000 switches. Customers will access the DNA software capabilities by subscription, either via pre-bundled Cisco ONE software suites or a-la-carte components.
- DNA Services to help customers deploy the new intuitive networking capabilities.
- Cisco will release a new DevNet DNA Developer Center for developers and IT professionals who wish to create network-powered applications and integrate them within their IT systems and workflows.
Cisco plans to begin rolling out the new capabilities now, with various elements entering the ordering stage at different times through November. However, the company says 75 enterprises and organizations have begun early field trials of the new offerings, including NASA and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
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