Kicking off its massive annual customer and partner conference this week, Cisco Systems announced a series of innovations aimed at making it easier for system administrators to manage and secure business networks, and to get more out of them.
At the 30th annual Cisco Live, an event drawing more than 28,000 technologists from around the world to San Diego through June 13, company executives touted the addition of new artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to its network management solutions “to allow IT teams to function at machine speed and scale through personalized network insights.”
“As the number of devices on the network grow, so does the complexity and number of alerts that administrators deal with,” says Scott Harrell, Cisco’s senior vice president of and general manager of enterprise networking. “It’s beyond the ability of humans to keep up with. Machines are needed. With Big Data and AI, machines can come along and free of us of our mental limitations.”
With AI-driven network analytics, which Cisco is rolling out this summer, organizations can gain deeper visibility and better insights into their network, as well as guidance on what actions to take to optimize performance, Harrell said. The technologies “can enable businesses to efficiently discern which issues to prioritize, becoming more nimble and proactive,” he said. “This will have a profound effect on network operations and the IT teams that run them.”
Cisco Aims to Make Technologists’ Lives Easier
AI-driven network analytics is one of several innovations that Cisco unveiled during the event’s June 10 opening day. Others include a unification and update of its suite of collaboration solutions so that users’ experience with, for example, its two popular instant messaging meeting tools, Webex Teams and Jabber, will be more similar.
It’s all part of the tech giant’s determination to build solutions that make networking easier and more insightful, so that businesses can do anything, said CEO Chuck Robbins. “Everything we do is influenced by our discussions with you,” he told thousands of attendees gathered for the morning keynote. “We understand that you’re building more applications within your organizations than you ever have before. And we understand that they’re running anywhere and everywhere and that the demands your users place on you relative to those applications are the highest they’ve ever been.”
Fewer Alerts Mean More Efficient IT Operations
Today’s IT teams are bombarded with a dizzying array of network alerts. Most of them are unimportant, yet all of them must be processed and managed. That’s because networks are usually monitored through static baselines: When network activity goes too far outside the norm, an alert is issued.
But in reality, what’s normal activity for a given network depends on factors unique to the organization. Cisco says its technology will learn what’s normal on an individual basis, dramatically reducing the number of alerts issued while increasing the value of each one.
“That makes me as a system administrator much more efficient and better able to provide service to my users,” Harrell said.
Case in point: Early adopter King, the London-based developer of mobile games such as Candy Crush. Jordi Marin Manzanera, a senior network engineer for the company, said AI is helping the company’s IT become more effective and efficient.
“The analytics tells us what is happening in our network,” he said. “We found a couple of problems this year that we wouldn’t have found without analytics.” And alerts that his team are managing have declined by 80 percent, he added. “For us, that’s very helpful. We don’t have to work as hard.”
Read articles and check out videos from BizTech’s coverage of Cisco Live 2019 here.