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WAN Management - Not on Your Watch

AM63512Network Operations Centers can be somber places.  I’ve seen quite a few during my last two decades in technology.  To monitor and manage a vast network is equal parts nerve racking and mind numbing boredom as you stare at wall-to-wall screens, waiting for an alarm to go off.

Over the years, networks have grown to be more and more complex because there are so many interdependent factors that affect their behavior. These factors include traffic flows, network typologies, network protocols, hardware, software, and most importantly, the interactions among them.

More frightening, the steps required to do these very complex network-wide changes are in many cases still manual.  In most enterprises this is done box-by-box one at a time – both time consuming and error prone.  On top of that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve calculated for variance with lots of different flavors of swtiches and routers in the field.  For example, to leverage a powerful feature such as Performance Routing (PfR), which can double your capacity, each WAN router must be properly configured and the overall WAN architecture adapted to the applications requirements. This can take many man-hours to implement, troubleshoot and optimize – which explains why most IT organizations spend 80-90% on operations, leaving little time for much needed innovation. Add in security, QoS, and mission critical applications and within seconds you can see this akin to kicking a sleeping beast. Once we move to the massive number of devices that are expected for the Internet of Things (IoT), then it simply becomes an unsustainable exercise in failure.

Over the last ten years, the move to the cloud have given us the luxury of picking only those battles that we know we are adept at and can win.  As Marc Benioff would tell you: Let someone who specializes in CRM take care of the day-to-day running of that application.  With the extra resources, concentrate on your core competency and innovate ways to deliver what your customer wants – in a better, faster, more efficient way.

We’ve been hearing about the promise of Network as a Service for a few years, but outsourcing it has been fairly expensive and for it’s price tag, it hasn’t given the amount agility required to quickly respond to changes from new use cases and business opportunities.  Also, they generally did not provide the sophisticated network features necessary to efficiently prioritize and route traffic in WAN environments where service quality and throughput optimization are vital. Until now.

Cisco has been partnering with Glue Networks to address our customers need to automate and accelerate their deployment either in house or through a managed service. Glue provides cloud based software-defined networking solution that simplifies the complexity of deploying and managing a feature-rich WAN. With Gluware, IT staff can refocus their attention to the actual features required, while the underlying configuration details, orchestration and ongoing monitoring tasks are handled automatically for them. Now, the IT team can easily turn on advanced services seamlessly across their network and better utilize their WAN investment, improve business continuity and deliver a better user experience.

The beauty of Glue Network’s solution is that IT can download Gluware configurations software, which establishes a connection to the Gluware cloud-based engine. Gluware then validates the device and its intended purpose, and automatically provisions it according to preset best-practices templates. This allows companies to immediately get started on remote office locations, ensuring configuration consistency from day one, and centrally monitoring and managing branch routers.

Since all of this is being done via a portal, it fits perfectly into a managed services model.  Now, when you hand over the keys, you’ll know that who ever is driving it, they will have a feature rich, highly intelligent management system specifically tuned to your network.

It was also just announced that Gluware would tightly integrate into Cisco’s latest APIC Enterprise Module for network discovery and to orchestrate LAN configurations. This significantly furthers their relevance by giving their customers the ability to control not only their WAN but also their LAN. Because Gluware is interacting directly with the IOS, there is no need for extra validation by a CCIE or in-house specialized development. Additionally, as more IOS features are supported by the Cisco APIC Enterprise Module, Glue will manage those devices without the need of direct access to the same end- point devices. This is like an insurance policy for those constantly evolving migration policies.

On February 26th, Cisco and Glue Networks will showcase the Gluware app for Cisco IWAN.  It has already stirred a lot of interest among customers.  In fact, one customer touted the ability to have saved 80% of the time needed in deploying the same WAN with an On-Premise method.   The experts of Glue and Cisco will give a live demo and field questions.  If you are looking to automate your WAN management and free up IT resources, this is a session you will not want to miss!

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