Cisco Touts New Automation Apps

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By: Michael Vizard

Cisco today added a series of networking orchestration applications known as "Crosswork," spanning everything from change management to employing machine leaning algorithms to analyze and adjust network configurations based on changing conditions. 

The goal is to make it simpler for service providers to transition away from manual processes that today hamper their ability to respond to customer demand for increased agility and alacrity, says Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager for service provider networking at Cisco.

“Network changes today still take too long and are far too error prone,” says Davidson

New additions to the Cisco software portfolio include a Cisco Crosswork Change Automation offering that promises to enable closed loop control over large-scale change and closed-loop control and Cisco Crosswork Health Insights, which employs sensors and alerts to automatically remediate issues before they optimize network performance.

A Cisco Crosswork Situation Manager makes use of event correlation enabled by machine learning algorithms to automatically triangulate the source of any networking issue.

Finally, there is now a Cisco Crosswork Data Platform based on both commercial and open source data analytics tools and a Cisco Crosswork Network Insights cloud service that is designed specifically to address large-scale routing issues typically encountered by service providers.

Davidson says Cisco envisions service providers taking advantage of the analytics and telemetry data provided by Cisco to implement what the company describes as intent-based networking policies that would be executed, for example, by a Cisco WAN Automation Engine (WAE) and XR Traffic Controller (XTC).

Service providers, says Davidson, are increasingly being evaluated on their ability to remediate issues as quickly as possible and the amount of time it takes for them to spin up a new service. In fact, the amount of time it takes to remediate issue and deliver value to the customer in terms of making a service available are requirements that are now increasingly being baked into service level agreements (SLAs), says Davidson. None of those requirements can be met with relying more on automation frameworks that enable network operators to express an intent that is automatically implemented by a layer of network orchestration software, explains Davidson.

Many service providers have been unable to automate their operations for reasons spanning everything from a lack of tools and processes to an abundance of networking equipment acquired from multiple vendors. Cisco is making a case for standardizing as much as possible on networking equipment from one vendor to make it simpler to automate the network management. It remains to be seen how receptive service providers will be to that overture. But what is clear is that unless service providers move quickly to automate their operations many of them will soon become extinct.

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