Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Avoiding an IT headache starts with the right network

April 4, 2018

What have IoT, GDPR and Smartphones got in common? They are all forcing a step-change in what the network needs to do for us.

At its inception, the network was just about data connectivity. Since then it has become increasingly sophisticated first the convergence of voice and data, the rise of video, the proliferation of multiple devices and then mobility.

At each step the expectations of the user have also changed. And the complexity of keeping everything secure.

It hasn’t stopped there. Now we are in the midst of the next explosive change. IoT. Based on past experience, we should anticipate that the speed will only accelerate, along with the security implications.

Learning lessons from the smartphone revolution

We can look back at the rise of the smartphone as a good lesson in the power of these technological advances to fundamentally change the expectations and requirements of the network, and the speed at which that will happen.

That smartphone revolution just flew, right?  For example, we did a limited pilot here in Cisco about a year after Apple launched the iPhone, to enable iPhone users to connect to the network. Within one month of opening the pilot we had 5000 subscribers! It was that quick.

The arrival of the smartphone fundamentally drove a change in how we looked at the network in terms of users, user expectations, application flow, application consumption and security. We needed to change what we did with mobile, security, how we managed applications from the cloud.

The IoT challenge and opportunity

IoT changes the game again. Now it’s not just about the number of users on the network, it’s about the numbers of connections to the network.

What does this mean? It means we need to look at how we’re managing the flow of that application, the security of the user, security of the user data, of the business data. All this is critical, and it is best secured in the network.

Regardless of the size of company from the largest global enterprise, to a local business with 50 or less employees, everyone has the same problem. How do I enable high quality user experience, to everyone that works in or interacts digitally with my business, at any time, seamlessly, and securely?

Secure, Secure, Secure, and GDPR

With everything we’re doing, everything we’re connecting, it becomes even more critical to ensure we do it with security. To do this we have to look to how we fundamentally inject security into the network. We’re no longer just talking about security around the network.  If you don’t fundamentally have security IN the network, then it won’t be enough.

Add to the mix GDPR and the security requirements get even more significant. Securing customer data wherever it is flowing on the network, from the data centre to the edge. Ensuring it cannot be compromised, and being able to see what is happening to that data on the network, to have assurance.

By building security into the network; policy, segmentation, encrypted traffic analytics (ETA), and by providing analytics and assurance, the network becomes a significant player in GDPR compliance, and your overall cybersecurity.

Reinventing the network for a digitally disrupted world

Back to that smartphone. How often do you use your smartphone for making phone calls? If you’re honest, like me you probably use it more for the applications.

And that’s the same with the network.  The network we’ve had until now is not digital ready. As we drive out into this market transition into digitisation it needs to change.

This isn’t new to us; we have loads of experience of evolving the network through innovation to meet changing needs.  Today’s requirement has led us to the intent-based software-defined network.  Our newest additions to our networking portfolio: Software-Defined Access with the Catalyst 9000 switches deliver on that need, providing automation, assurance and security.

Turning complexity into simplicity (for the user)

Making this happen is complicated.  The way our customers want to consume services and content digitally means we need to find a different way to scale IT. We know that to manage this complex beast in the conventional manual way simply isn’t scalable. It’s too time-consuming and too resource intensive. Like the smartphone, you, our customer, needs a simpler way to deploy, manage and get visibility of the network.

That’s where DNA Center comes in.  It takes all this complexity and simplifies it in a GUI interface.  The complexity gets managed in the background.

A network for the digitally disrupted world

The network expectations are changing, and so the network must change. Historically it was just connectivity, but now we expect the network to deliver analytics, assurance, security, multi-cloud and automation.

Bringing that all together requires this completely autonomic environment, an intent-based and software-defined network. That’s the new network. The Network. Intuitive.

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