Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

The flexible buffet for all your networking requirements

March 28, 2017

I invited my friends for dinner recently.  I cooked a great meal, spent ages planning it.  But then, one of my guests said they were vegetarian. And when I checked I discovered there was a vegan, a celiac, someone that was gluten-intolerant, allergies to all sorts of things. And then the guest list changed.  I tried to accommodate with special courses and changing the menu. It became impossibly hard, the kitchen was chaos, and during the evening I couldn’t remember what was for who, and worried that I was going to make everyone ill!

You know, I liked it back in the good old days when everyone would come around and just eat whatever I served up, enjoy it and have a happy evening.  Next time, I’m going to have a buffet, with lots of options, so my guests can select the menu that’s best for them.

In some ways that dinner-party hell reminds me of the challenges of networking today.

Historically when you built your network you could be confident that the solution you defined today would last 2, 3 even 6 years until you considered a refresh.  A set menu that would be fit for purpose for everyone at the table. Nowadays continued innovation means things aren’t so simple. You need new functionality to ensure your network continues to deliver your needs, outside the traditional refresh cycle.  Buying new functionality piecemeal creates complexity, it becomes hard to manage.  Just like my dinner-party menu.

What’s the solution?  In the fast-moving world of digital transformation, shifting to a software-defined approach to the network is going to be the smart way to getting the agility, innovation and security you need. Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture will deliver you all the ingredients you need, so that you can create a network that can adapt and evolve it as fast as you need to.

All the evidence says this is the future. Forbes reported on the IDC 2017 predictions for digital transformation and noted that  By 2018, 45% of CIOs will shift primary focus from physical to digital and move away from BPM and optimisation to deliver scale, predictability, and speed.

That’s really not far away.  Are you ready to be one of the 45%?

If you are trying to get there using the fixed menu approach it will be hard. So, you need the network equivalent of the buffet. Thinking about the software independently of the hardware will give you that flexibility. With Cisco ONE planning for fast evolving network requirements becomes easier.

Not sure what recipe to use, which ingredients to select first? 

Start by looking the area you are investing, and see the value you are getting from investing with Cisco ONE in each space. Let’s look at Access as an example:

To have a robust access network whether wired or wireless you need the software in the infrastructure to deliver network services to your users as well as to the business. Each user has their own menu preference of when and where they need access, the data they need. And they want and expect great application performance.  While you need security in every transaction, visibility of performance, fast troubleshooting, holistic security and easy issue resolution.

Cisco ONE Foundation for Access will give you all that. You can deploy a consistent software across all your switching and wireless. With the same level of functionality everywhere. Plus, with our SDN automation layer, (Cisco’s APIC-EM) when your business requirements change you can deploy new network policies in minutes, following Cisco Validated Design.

Then, maybe you have more business requirements that you want to achieve. (Like more guests arriving needing different menu choices). With the Cisco ONE suite you will have the tools to get started straight way. If security is top of mind, then you can deploy Stealthwatch, to reduce your identification of threats to hours and minutes (instead of months and days). Or if your focus is on reducing your carbon footprint, then you can start managing your estate for reduced energy consumption. And when you want to see how those changes are benefiting your business performance you can find out in seconds by extracting analytics from the network.

So, if you’ve had enough of set menus that don’t last to the end of the meal. Or unplanned guests constantly shifting the goal, then talk to us today about how you can transform your network to the buffet approach. And see our offers that will help you ensure you have the tools and the platform to respond fast and even keep one step ahead.

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