by Divina Paredes

‘We are going to add analytics everywhere we can’

Mar 09, 2018
Big DataCareersCloud Computing

Predictive analytics and assurance solutions help our customers quickly isolate and resolve issues in the wide area network. Scott Harrell, Cisco

Cisco has launched innovations that aim to bring visibility to what it says is IT’s biggest blind spot – the wide-area network (WAN).

The fragmented nature of the WAN means that IT often has limited ability to specifically determine problems and get real-time information, says Scott Harrell, senior vice president and general manager, enterprise networking at Cisco.

“WAN has lots of different providers and if you are running a multinational company you may have to cross multiple continents and have to manage the complexity yourself.”

“We are shining a light in that area of the network and bringing visibility to it,” says Harrell.

“We are helping IT by providing the capability to forecast WAN problems before they happen, while quickly isolating and fixing issues when they do occur,” says Harrell, at the annual Cisco Live in Melbourne.

“We have set an ambitious goal for ourselves of transforming the entire network, from campus to branch, data center to edge,” he adds.

“The WAN is a vital part of the network and is one of the toughest to manage. As we bring insight into the WAN with these new innovations, we get closer to delivering end-to-end intent-based networking to help our customers eliminate downtime and save money.”

He explains Cisco SD-WAN vAnalytics will provide IT with visibility, forecasting for applications and bandwidth planning, ‘what-if’ scenarios, and actionable recommendations.

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Built as a cloud-based SaaS solution, vAnalytics provides comprehensive data, analysis, and corrective actions across the WAN, including branch offices, multi-cloud endpoints, and multiple service providers.

‘We are going to add analytics everywhere we can and improve user experience as a result,” he explains.

You can focus your performance on mission critical apps Scott Harrell, Cisco

Meraki Insight, on the other hand, will help ICT administrators to optimise the end user experience by providing valuable WAN and SaaS application performance, significantly cutting the time it takes to isolate and resolve issues.

Meraki Insight is integrated into the Meraki dashboard to help IT maintain a better end-user experience.

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The solution provides end-to-end visibility with application and WAN performance analytics.

Customers can understand and troubleshoot both internal and external issues that can contribute to poor user experience for applications hosted in a remote data centre or in the cloud, says Harrell.

“You can focus your performance on mission critical apps,” says Harrell. “Is something wrong or not? Once you get that, you can dive into the details. We can then get in and give you all information where the problem resides and fix it as quickly as possible.”

He says these issues are highlighted in an IDC study (Worldwide SD-WAN Survey Special Report September 2017) which found almost 3 out of 10 organisations considered network outages as a top WAN concern. The survey finds the same number of respondents stated they need better visibility and analytics to manage application and WAN performance.

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We are onboarding a lot of cloud services as part of our digital strategy Peter Castle, Reece

Business growth tool

Peter Castle, senior network engineer of Reece, says a secure, scalable, and high-performance WAN is critical for the company, as it continues to grow on both sides of the Tasman.

“With over 600 branch offices across New Zealand and Australia and more than 5000 employees, we rely on cloud applications and an always connected workplace to serve our customers,” says Castle.

“We are onboarding a lot of cloud services as part of our digital strategy.”

With Cisco vManage, the group can centrally deploy branch applications and services rapidly, he says. “We have been able to dramatically improve branch availability and bandwidth utilisation with the rich analytics this platform provides.”

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“The data from those sites is also becoming more useful to us,” he adds.

Thus, when the manager or CIO asks about network issues, we can use data to say it is a network problem or an applications problem or there is no problem at all, he says.

“We are looking forward to the additional functionality we will be able to achieve with the even richer application visibility that vAnalytics will provide us.”

Rowan Trollope and Keith Griffin at the 2018 Cisco Live in Melbourne

When you say, ‘Hey Spark’ you are interacting with an AI system Rowan Trollope, Cisco

The digital assistant

At the Cisco Live in Melbourne, keynote speaker Rowan Trollope demonstrates Spark Assistant, a voice assistant specifically designed for meetings.

The virtual assistant can help organise the meetings, contact the attendees and book meeting rooms. Upcoming features are the ability to record meetings, take notes and find relevant documents.

“When you say, ‘Hey Spark’ you are interacting with an AI system,” says Trollope, senior vice president, IoT and applications at Cisco.

“This machine learning system will continue to learn and get better – this will be indispensable for collaboration.”

“Today, we are the market leader in collaboration for business,” says Trollope. “We think this is a great opportunity to bring AI to the business.”

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Divina Paredes attended the 2018 Cisco Live in Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.