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Cisco Network Assurance Engine – An Open Platform with a Strong Partner Ecosystem

- January 31, 2018 - 3 Comments

Today marks another important milestone for Cisco’s intuitive network initiative. Building on market-leading Cisco ACI and Tetration technologies, we’ve announced yet another innovation, the Cisco Network Assurance Engine. Read Press Release here for details.

The Cisco Network Assurance Engine offers operators a radically new approach to manage their modern data center networks, leveraging a model-based verification approach commonly used in hardware chip development for provable correctness, giving them the confidence and visibility that their networks are always consistent with their intent.

Cisco Network Assurance Engine also distinguishes itself as an open platform. It is built from the ground up with Open APIs and the ability to seamlessly integrate with leading Data Center Management and Monitoring platforms.

These APIs allow our customers, partners and us to extend the capabilities of our core product in many directions:

  1. Support for an open ecosystem of technology partners
  2. Integrate into operational workflows of customer data centers
  3. Extend automation frameworks like Ansible with modules that provide rich, actionable SmartEvents about the network

The choice and flexibility to use full-fledged open APIs have enabled a strong ecosystem of partners to build a broad set of new use cases for our customers. Today, we are proud to congratulate our ecosystem members for their collaborative efforts and highlight use cases these integrations unlock. The partners include Ansible, Citrix Systems, F5 Networks, ServiceNow, Splunk, and Turbonomic, our valued technology alliance partners.

Refer Picture above:  Ecosystem partners for Cisco Network Assurance Engine at launch

Most of these integrations are being demonstrated in the World of Solutions at Cisco Live! Barcelona Jan 29th, 2018 through Feb 2nd, 2018 – be sure to check them out, if you are attending. And Cisco ACI customers, who are also Splunk and ServiceNow customers, can now download the certified app for Cisco Network Assurance Engine for their respective marketplaces.

The use cases, current and potential, for these integrations are described below:

Data Center Operations: (Turbonomic)

  • Intelligent Workload Placement:
    Turbonomic leverages SmartEvents from Cisco Network Assurance Engine to understand the health of the network and places workloads on hosts that have connectivity to a healthy network. For example, if a particular leaf switch in a Cisco ACI fabric loses connectivity to one of the spine switches, thereby reducing its available uplink capacity, that leaf switch will be treated by Turbonomic as less-healthy than other available options and, thereby, of lower preference for workload placement.
  • Workload Self-Healing:
    Automated ability to migrate virtual workloads to hosts that have connectivity to a healthy part of the network at all times to maintain consistent application delivery and healthy status.
  • Read Turbonmic’s blog by clicking here.

Incident Management: (ServiceNow)

The certified ServiceNow app for Cisco Network Assurance Engine enabled some very interesting capabilities, including the ability to create a closed-loop, auto-remediating network:

  • Ticketing automation: The app automatically manages – open, close, reopen, and assign – tickets in ServiceNow for anomalies identified by Cisco Network Assurance Engine. This accelerates the diagnosis and resolution of the issues, thereby improving IT operations significantly.
  • Closed loop event management: Customers can associate ServiceNow workflows to SmartEvents, enabling automated reporting and/or remediation of issues. These workflows can include approval activities, enabling human operators to be involved in this closed-loop.
  • Visibility and Service Assurance: Correlate SmartEvents from Cisco Network Assurance Engine about the network with events from other infrastructure elements like storage controllers, virtualization managers, etc – this enables efficient root-cause analysis of problems and proactive analysis of the impact on services due to any issues in the network.
  • Read more and download at ServiceNow’s store by clicking here.

Visibility, Analytics and Alerting (Splunk)

  • Insights and analytics: Provide valuable insights into your network operations with intuitive dashboards that show current and historical trends of SmartEvents from Cisco Network Assurance Engine, thereby showing the assured state of the network across time.
  • Alerting automation: Leveraging Splunk alerts, customers can proactively receive alerts on potential configuration, performance and compliance issues identified by Cisco Network Assurance Engine.
  • Faster root cause analysis: Correlate the issues and events reported by Cisco Network Assurance with data from 3rd party sources – helps you accelerate root cause analysis and prevent service outages.
  • Read more on Splunk’s Blog by clicking here, and you can download the app at Splunkbase by clicking here.

L4-7 Services Integration: (Citrix Systems, F5 Networks)

  • Network connectivity assurance: Assure connectivity (configuration and runtime state) of L4-7 service nodes and IPAM devices with Cisco ACI fabric.
  • Service redundancy assurance: Assure configuration and connectivity of ACI fabric and L4-7 service nodes to achieve the desired level of high-availability (Active/Backup, Active/Active, Floating IPs, and more).
  • End-to-end assurance: Assure the end-to-end path, including service chains, from the entry point in the network to the backend servers.

Automation (Ansible)

The integration includes an Ansible module to fetch SmartEvents from Cisco Network Assurance Engine. This enables Ansible customers to access rich, intent-based network insights that can then be used with their other (existing) Ansible modules, including modules for Cisco ACI, for various use cases from reporting to remediation. By linking the SmartEvents with Cisco ACI Ansible modules, that are part of Ansible core, customers can create a closed-loop capability for automatically resolving network issues.

This is just the beginning of our Intent Assurance Platform Ecosystem journey.  We would like to sincerely thank all these partners for collaborating with us to build integrated solutions to address key customer use-cases. We will continue to focus on deeper integrations with these partners to unlock more use cases as well as build integrations with new partners with the ultimate goal to make our joint customers successful.

Partner Testimonials:

Citrix Systems: “Citrix and Cisco have demonstrated joint customer success across different data center technologies such as networking, security, and analytics,” said Steve Shah, Vice President, Product Management, Citrix, “Cisco’s Network Assurance Engine is a fundamental innovation in the journey towards intent based data centers – by bringing it to the portfolio of Cisco – Citrix NetScaler integrated solutions we expect to help our customers achieve new levels of reliability across their data center networks and a shift to truly proactive operations.”

F5 Networks: “Building on the momentum of our partnership with Cisco, we are crossing yet another crucial milestone to enable Intent-based networking for our joint customers,” said Calvin Rowland, SVP Business Development. “Cisco’s Network Assurance Engine is a key innovation in the industry’s push towards more reliable, self-healing data centers, and F5’s integration will assure network connectivity between our industry leading application-delivery platform BIG-IP and Cisco’s application-centric infrastructure. This alliance will greatly increase confidence in deploying our joint solutions for mission critical applications in an agile and reliable fashion.”

Splunk: “Together, Splunk and Cisco help our joint customers minimize operational and security risks, drive informed decisions across the organization, and ultimately transform their businesses, said Dave Schwartz, Head of Global Strategic Alliances. Cisco’s vision for intent based networking aligns with Splunk’s focus on enabling a proactive, predictive approach to IT, and we are excited to expand our long-standing partnership to include Cisco’s Network Assurance Engine. The integration between Splunk and Cisco’s Network Assurance Engine enables customers to proactively alert on potential configuration, performance and compliance issues in the network and then easily correlate detailed network assurance events with issues across their infrastructure and applications to find and remediate problems faster.”

Turbonomic: “Application distribution across multiple sites and clouds is introducing complexity at scale, particularly in the network,” said Charles Crouchman, CTO at Turbonomic. “Cisco Network Assurance Engine helps manage network complexity by providing assurance of the entire network stack, enabling Turbonomic to take self-healing decisions for workloads running in the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure. We look forward to working with Cisco so that users can fully automate and benefit from the Turbonomic platform, which creates a self-managing environment that takes trustworthy actions to maintain the continuous health of workloads.”

Related Links:

Cisco Data Center Technology Partner Ecosystem www.cisco.com/go/dcecosystem

Cisco Network Assurance Engine – Turbonomic Exec Video: http://bit.ly/2FqWqbh

Cisco Network Assurance Engine – Splunk Exec Video: http://bit.ly/2DJZBhO

Cisco Network Assurance Engine – F5 Video: http://bit.ly/2rMkiUV

Cisco Network Assurance Engine – Citrix Video: http://bit.ly/2DZrzFN

Cisco Network Assurance Engine Website  https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/data-center-analytics/network-assurance-engine/index.html

Partner Quote Sheet: https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/data-center-analytics/network-assurance-engine/solution-overview-c22-740120.pdf

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3 Comments

    Really interesting, but I fail to understand exaclty how the solution is build. First, as it says that it is a software solution, I suppose it can be delivered via Cloud on a subscription base. Let's suppose this is true (I don't see it explained above). From what I understood (might be wrong) it seems it is somehow based on Tetration, that collects data from end devices. The "plus" should be that is can collect data also from 3rd party devices and correlate ALL the data - great news! Does this mean Tetration will disapear?... Is it available only in cloud or is there a on-prem solution (VM with adequate storage? Apliance?)

  1. Fantastic development. Who should we reach out to in order to get information on the APIs available, demo version etc, for tech partnership purposes?

  2. Great milestone in network intelligence, intent and visibility. My first impression for the name ‘Network Assurance’ is for SD-Access with DNA-C then the blog explains its for DC ACI. A bit of a confusion or it’s for both?

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