Special thanks to the Cisco Data Center Networking (DCN) product management team, Aniket Lele, John Ng, Emmeline Chou, Adam Ozkan and David Keith for their inputs.

As Cisco is helping countries develop their digital capabilities during the on-going crisis, enterprises are seeing unprecedented application and growth in data within Data Centers (DC’s). IT is looking for ways to collect and analyze vast amounts of information while planning for the needs of compute, storage and network connectivity. This puts a heavy burden on the network operations to ensure that everything is working effectively, efficiently and scales to the business needs — and works right the first time — to meet their intent. Operators also face the challenge of managing change according to intent, with the need to have visibility into their fabric and the ability to quickly remediate issues when troubleshooting providing for a truly Intent Based Network (IBN).

As networks have grown more critical to every organization’s mission, the need to understand what is going on in and across the network has become vital to the success of network staff and IT organizations. Why is that? Because the network condition is a prime determinant of a successful experience for the end user — from internal worker to external partner to end customer/consumer.

Multicloud architectures that include private and public clouds are the new normal for most enterprises. Multicloud environments frequently encompass multiple generations of bare metal, virtualized, and container-based platforms and both traditional and cloud-native applications. As use of multicloud architectures scale, and applications become more dynamic and distributed, enterprises require comprehensive automation and analytics solutions to help maintain performance, reduce business risk, and reduce costs.

Cloud services, machine learning, artificial intelligence, network virtualization, autonomous infrastructure, edge computing, real-time telemetry, programmatic interfaces, and open source — all and more are combined to serve the complex needs of Data Center Network Management in this digital era.

Most of the challenges currently faced by network operators are related to the capabilities of running a network, which is called Day 2 Operations. Also, for the record, Day 0 is design and procurement; Day 1 is installing, provisioning, segmenting – getting it running.

Figure 1: Key challenges that global Data Center Network (DCN) network operators face


In this white paper titled “Addressing the Need for Proactive Day 2 Datacenter Network Operations”, IDC Research Vice President Brad Casemore explores how the Cisco Network Assurance and Insights is suited to respond to these needs with a set of capabilities for proactive Day 2 network operations.

How does Network Insights and Assurance meet these challenges?

Network operators is no longer a black art or a guessing game – it’s a proven science! Transforming Day-2 Operations with Cisco Data Center Network Assurance and Insights is imminent to keeping operators’ infrastructure running at its best, 24/7, giving them the power to predict Day 2 and beyond. Cisco’s approach to Day 2 network operations is represented by Cisco Network Assurance and Insights, an integrated set of tools that provides network assurance, proactive advisories, and intelligent analytics (see Figure 2).

The Network Assurance and Insights platform extends Cisco’s Data Center Intent Based Network (IBN) to transform the network operation model and enables IT operations to align closely with business objectives and outcomes as well as operational requirements across both ACI and DCNM controllers.

Figure 2: Cisco Data Center Network (DCN) Solutions: Assurance and Insights on Top of the Stack


Here are three specific issues that the Network Assurance and Insights (A&I) capabilities have solved:

Change management

a. Problem: When changes need to be made to a DC network, there is generally little understanding if the change is implemented and executing as planned.

b. Solution: With the Cisco Network Assurance Engine (NAE), the network operator has the capability to model the changes before it is pushed to the network. NAE can report the potential impact before the change is made. That helps reduce the operator’s change window, making it happen as intended the first time around.

Managing compliance roles

a. Problem: Enterprises want to segregate or segment their data and network so the end users cannot access data that is proprietary to the institution.

b. Solution: A&I allows operators to set up rules to execute segmentation, where in case of violation, the system flags it. The system will also alert the operator in case of any errors during software and hardware upgrades. Overall, A&I provides an ease of use to troubleshoot issues when implementing changes and during migration.

Fabric visibility

a. Problem: Users and operators need accurate reporting of the connectivity in the network

b. Solution: With A&I, the operator will not only know the connectivity status but also the data flow between one point to another, along with latency, reasons for packet drops, missing policies and contracts or how it is all interconnected along with any environmental issues with the network – providing end to end visibility.

What does this all mean? IDC VP of research, Brad Casemore, sums it all up in the independent assessment that Cisco Network Assurance and Insights has the following benefits of successfully addressing Day 2 operations:

  • Improved customer experience
  • Increased revenue
  • Decreased cost
  • Business continuity and compliance

He states in conclusion that “Cisco Network Assurance and Insights is designed to help network operators achieve those benefits for their organizations. An integrated set of intelligent tools that provide analysis, ensure intent, and identify network performance issues, Cisco Network Assurance and Insights gives network operators a means of enhancing Day 2 operations with deep analysis, intent assurance, and identification of network performance issues. By automating and modernizing Day 2 operations, network operators can align better with the strategic objectives and business outcomes of their organizations and deliver ongoing benefits such as enhanced customer experience, increased revenue, lower costs, and assured business continuity and compliance.”

Learn more at:

Cisco Data Center Network Assurance and Insights: Always-on network assurance and insights

Analyst perspective: IDC Research Vice President Brad Casemore shares insights on how network operators can extend intelligent automation to Day 2 operations.

Case Studies: Cisco Network Assurance and Insights are transforming customers infrastructure.



Usha Andra

Leader, Product Marketing

Data Center and Cloud Networking