What Cisco announced at Cisco Live

By Ken Mingis Jun 30th 2017
What Cisco announced at Cisco Live
Get the low-down on what intent-based networking is and why Cisco is making a big deal about it

Cisco is a company in transition as it looks to move beyond its networking roots into areas as diverse as security, mobile, the Internet of Things and the now "intent-based networking."

Network World's Brandon Butler has been at Cisco Live this week, keeping tabs on what the company is up to -- something that's not easy when there are 28,000 people in attendance and 1 million square feet of exhibition space. He filled in Computerworld Executive Editor Ken Mingis on the details.

The big news? Actually, that came last week and involves intent-based networking. IBNS, as it's known, uses machine learning to automatically program a network based on user needs. In a nutshell, the system allows IT to define detailed policies for a corporate network and have a software platform that executes -- and even maintains -- that desired state. 

Although IBNS as a concept has been around for years, said Butler, it's the arrival and refinement of machine learning that makes the system a more realistic possibility. That said, the hardware-software combo needed for all the pieces to fit together is unlikely to be in place before about 2020.

Other highlights included talk about programmable switches and a surprise appearance Monday by Apple CEO Tim Cook, who talked about the ongoing Cisco/Apple partnership. It's a symbiotic relationship: Apple is trying to break into the enterprise through partnerships with the likes of Cisco, IBM, SAP and others; Cisco sees an opportunity to help its networking customers better manage employees and provide a more secure network.

The two companies announced a new Cisco security app that will be available on iOS later this year and unveiled plans to find savings for customers buying cyber insurance -- if they use Apple and Cisco products.

To sum up: Cisco is at a pivot point as it tries to transition from a hardware to a software company; positions itself as something of a security company; and works to integrate the growth in cloud, IoT and mobile computing with corporate network needs.

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