Cisco gives intent-based networking a third leg to stand on

Behold, the Assurance Engine to make sure networks are following the rules


Cisco’s delivered the missing piece of its intent-based networking (IBN) vision and is therefore ready to stand its ground as software-defined networking upstarts try to paint it as a dinosaur.

When Switchzilla introduced the vision in mid-2017 it explained that automation was at its core – the company wanted networks that could be told what to do and then went and did that. The plan called for three things: a policy engine, analytics and monitoring.

Cisco already had the policy piece in place in the form of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), the software-defined networking product that allows propagation of traffic flow and security policies across different networks. Cisco describes ACI as the tool you use to write your intent.

The next piece is monitoring and Cisco enhanced its Tetration analytics tool to do that: it can now observe past network behaviour and recommend how you could configure it to get what you want.

The last piece is what Cisco calls an “Assurance Engine”, new software that monitors networks to ensure they’re doing all the things ACI told them to do and Tetration tweaked. The software offers real-time verification that all is going to plan, which Cisco feels is likely to be more useful than occasional audits. There’s also a network modelling tool that lets users replicate their networks and play with the resulting simulator to see if planned changes will make life difficult or see the network’s performance diverge from plans.

White boxes

AT&T wants to bin 100,000 routers, replace them with white boxes

READ MORE

Cisco’s belief is that Assurance further advances its mission to make networks more automated, less susceptible to human errors and more performant.

The proof of that pudding will be in the eating. More certain is that the Assurance Engine advances Cisco’s march into subscription services and software: you’ll need to be an ACI user to get it working at all and there’s a software subscription to sign up for too.

For now you’ll also need another product called DNA Center Assurance that pipes information from the Engine into Cisco’s cloudy DNA Center networking monitoring tool, which is available as part of the ONE subscription offer.

At least you’ll be spared new hardware: the Nexus 9000 series switches are ready for duty alongside the Assurance Engine.

Take that, white boxers

Switchzilla is thrilled that it has a full IBN suite in the market.

And that’s a pretty big deal, because it’s Cisco’s main response to software-defined networking (SDN). The company feels that between the Assurance Engine, Tetration and ACI it can match SDN upstarts, but without users having to employ the kinds of netadmins who can recite packet headers in their sleep. The company hopes that its users will therefore see that the significant effort required to adopt pure-play SDN with white box kit probably offers poor rewards compared to adopting IBN with kit they know and understand.

Cisco expects that argument will play well with its core users, but also knows that some really big network operators will find good reasons to go full SDN. Losing the odd colossus will hurt, but if Cisco can convince the bulk of its current customers to come with along for the IBN ride, it will have plenty of company.

At this point The Register imagines readers who consider themselves core Cisco customers will point out that they are not ACI users and have no plan to become one any time soon. Cisco’s got you covered there: the company told us it plans to bring the Assurance Engine to environments beyond ACI in the future. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021