Part I: Attn: Networking Professionals – It’s Time to Change the World Again.
My fellow networkers, it’s time for the network to take the center stage once again. For a while now, IT professionals have been noticing the growing buzz around networking. Innovative new network developments – Open APIs, Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), etc. – are converging with evolving demands to usher in an exciting new phase of networking. And it shouldn’t surprise any of you that Cisco is playing a central role.
That’s why today marks an especially important day in Cisco’s network journey as we unveil the Cisco Digital Network Architecture, or Cisco DNA (#CiscoDNA), as we fondly call it. With Cisco DNA, we are re-defining networking with an open, extensible and software-driven strategy (See Diagram I below).
Watch this video for an overview on Cisco Digital Network Architecture.
Most of us have personally witnessed how networks over the last 30 years drastically changed every aspect of how we work, live, play, and learn: from the early days of email to the wonders of the web, and from e-commerce to immersive collaboration and mobile experiences.
While the last 30 years of networking have been exciting, we’ve not experienced anything game-changing yet until today. Networking, as we know it, is fundamentally changing to support the demands of digitization (See Diagram II above). Yesterday’s networks primarily were a platform for connectivity. That alone was already powerful. Networks allowed us to overcome the barriers of distance and time. For example, I can work and collaborate with my colleagues 24×7, interact with my kids even when I’m halfway across the globe, run my personal life through online shopping, dinner reservations or travel bookings, or shorten my daily commute with the Waze mobile app.
But the time has come to move the network beyond connectivity. With businesses moving to digitization and mega-trends like mobile, cloud, analytics and IoT, the network needs to become a platform for insights, automation and security (See Diagram III below). What does that mean? For organizations, it means being able to use this new network platform to rapidly improve or enable new processes, to differentiate your services, or disrupt your industry’s traditional business models with minimal risk. For networking professionals, it means having an opportunity to minimize mundane operational activities and play a more strategic role in the business than ever before.
- Insights. The network touches all things digital – users, devices, applications, sensors and cloud – and networking professionals are in a unique position to help their organizations capture insights in real time that allows businesses to make better decisions instantly and deliver better experiences.
- Automation. This area is centered on IT speed and simplicity. Today’s networking professionals are CLI jockeys, but that will offer less value as time goes on. The network is evolving to software with software-defined networking, open APIs, network function virtualization and more. These new technologies provide networking IT with unprecedented agility that helps IT deliver business requirements faster and can free up cycles to support more strategic projects for their organization.
- Security. While digital technologies have opened up new opportunities, they have also introduced a level of risk. As we see the proliferation of mobile devices and cloud adoption, the network perimeter is evolving and the attack surface has the potential to grow significantly. To combat that risk, networking professionals will be able to offer the business a new approach to inject security pervasively through the network, which can be the sensor and enforcer of security threats.
I think you’d agree, it’s a very exciting time for us to be in networking. If you are an IT professional, the digital world will be your oyster. Now is the time to learn how the role of the network must evolve for digitization and how you can build skills for next generation networking to help change the world once again.
Get a deep dive on the role of the network, including use cases and examples, in my next post: “Part II: The Role of the Network Must Expand for Digital Transformation.”
- In the meantime, learn more about Cisco DNA via these resources:
Cisco DNA, a Primer (infographic)
Cisco DNA Solution Overview (collateral)
Building Skills for Next-gen Networking (blog post)
And please share your thoughts on where you think this next generation of networking will take us.