Multi-domain policy, cloud edge and a user-first mindset signal an exciting future for enterprise IT

I’ve attended Cisco Live for the past 15 years. While it’s always exciting to see what our largest partner has in store, I can say without a doubt that this year was the best Cisco Live ever. That’s because there was a takeaway that transcended products or technology domains. I’m still riding the high that the network is back. And it’s cooler and more capable than ever.

From SD-WAN bringing organizations to the cloud edge to access location-independent services and applications, to the long-awaited vision of multi-domain automation with policy configurations uniformly pushed to the branch, campus and data center, Live 2019 proved that Cisco has built the future of the network.

This year Cisco offered a bold vision that frees us from technology domains and the costs, complexities and headaches that come with them. Cisco is laser-focused on four things that span their portfolio: the user, the device, the application and the data.

No matter who you are, what device you’re on or what application or data set you’re trying to access (I’m talking to you too, IoT devices), Cisco will provide the connectivity to enable that access at a global scale with security and insights that are second to none.

What makes this user-based approach to IT problem-solving possible is the fact that Cisco has spent the past handful of years refactoring everything from the ground up. What we’re seeing now is that effort come to fruition. We now have an underlying, open architecture with common APIs and a common operating system.

For organizations with mixed environments, this is huge.

DNA Center can now talk to the APIC controller in the data center and soon will be able to talk to Viptela and Meraki.

Until now, extending Viptela, Meraki or Cisco campus switching policies into the data center was a bear — tons of complexity, precious people hours and rife with human error.

Now we can extend one set of policy that proliferates across the WAN, LAN and data center thanks to the integration of control devices. Finally, the walled gardens of technology domains are fading.

And with this fading comes a new level of security. Because we can now apply policy to a user and his or her device, data or application that they’re engaging with, multi-domain automation becomes a means to enterprise segmentation. We say security is a wrapper and it’s hard to picture a more protective one than what Cisco can provide when you consider the maturation of Umbrella, Cloudlock, Threat Grid and Talos.

What we also see with policy being able to seamlessly be extended across the enterprise is a new level of visibility. Assurance was a key theme at Live.

We’re no longer talking about assurance for Meraki, assurance for DNA Center, assurance for Tetration and assurance for AppDynamics; we’re pushing into AIOps.

The user, the device, the application and the data — it’s performance in these areas where we’ll benchmark success. We don’t have to guess whether a poor user experience is the result of a problem with the network or an application, because Cisco now gives us purview into the performance of everything the user is interacting with at a given instant.

Of course, applications and data are going to live outside of our walls.

One of the most exciting things we saw out of Live was Cisco focusing on the cloud in the context of the company’s core capability — connectivity.

Equinix announced Network Edge through which organizations in an Equinix facility will be able to more rapidly and securely access Equnix’s cloud exchange.

When you put Cisco SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp for Colocation into an Equinix cage, like we did ahead of Live, suddenly you can deploy multicloud services at the cloud edge. That means the central policy management I’ve been harping on can be deployed within minutes.

As it turns out, cloud didn’t eat the world, and luckily Cisco has turned our eye back on the ball, reminding us that connectivity is the foundation of cloud.

Somewhat departing from networking (although we’ve established it’s all connected), was Cognitive Collaboration. You can learn about Cisco’s application of AI and what it means for next-generation meetings, the contact center and more in one of our recent podcasts.

To get into all that Cisco Live gave us is too much to mention in one article, but you can be sure we’ll be digging into all we saw at Live 2019 throughout the year.

For now, I hope you’ll be as content as I am knowing that the network is back and it’s stronger, smarter and more exciting than ever before.