Today, very few business leaders need convincing evidence about the benefits of digitization. That’s because they no longer ask “why” digitalization should be a business imperative. They’re at the “what” needs to be done stage – what are the steps IT must take to build a strong network foundation, on which the fruits of digitization can be realized.

Would you build a house without a foundation?

In most situations, the answer is no. The same applies when building a digital-ready network. But to build the right one (the what needs to be done), IT must know what they’re building for. The new foundation must withstand the “digital tsunami”. Let me explain.

What is the Digital Tsunami?

Today there a plethora of mobile devices, application types, and IoT sensors – some of which cannot be fortified within a branch perimeter. Every day, 15 petabytes of information are created. Anything that connects, will connect, expanding the surface area of attacks to as many as 20B devices by 2020 (Gartner). Together, the compounded effect of IT management, infrastructure and data security is the Digital Tsunami. It is the “perfect storm”, and if your network foundation is not methodically planned and thoughtfully built, your organization could be at risk of extinction.

Old Methods Won’t Work

The piece-meal approach of the past and present won’t work for the future.

The scope and complexity of managing possibly up to 1 million devices per IT person increases management complexity and security challenges, not just costs. In addition, if your organization still operates a myriad of disparate devices to accomplish required network functionality, such as network appliances performing WAN optimization, firewall protection, intrusion detection system (IDS) and prevention (IPS) or voice services operated alongside routers and switches, these devices will impede IT speed and flexibility, stifling innovations and business agility.

For these reasons, Cisco introduces Cisco Digital Network Architecture(DNA). One of the key innovations in DNA is Enterprise Network Function Virtualization (Enterprise NFV) and how that can be architected to resolve the challenges faced by IT teams in enterprise networks.

Enterprise Branch Virtualization with NFV

The NFV approach to branch virtualization opens up new technology avenues by providing a platform for customers to deploy virtualized network elements, as and when, required. Coupling this with an easy-to-use, end-to-end automation, orchestration and management framework, enterprises are able to:

  1. Significantly reduce costs by achieving a much better TCO than deploying multiple appliances for specific network services.
  2. Get better return on investment (ROI) by avoiding expensive truck rolls (technician dispatch costs) to enable services at their branches.
  3. Simplify the Day 0 and Day 1 deployments with a better Day 2 experience by gaining better visibility and serviceability of the network.

The key aspects of branch virtualization:

  • Simplicity—Reduce complexity from services and operations and provide more nimble and innovative business models. Gain the ability to manage all branches with a single pane of glass and respond to network challenges more quickly.
  • Agility—Gain flexibility in deploying services in a timely manner. Improve business efficiency in capital and operations by meeting the evolving business requirements, including traffic growth, diversity of traffic types, performance, reliability demands, and expectations.
  • Programmability—Leverage open APIs to enable better automation of network services while improving visibility.

Branch virtualization leverages a specialized platform customized to take care of NFV requirements and offload special functions, such as encryption and customized drivers, to provide increased performance for different NFV elements. These are the foundation blocks for building this next-generation branch network:

  • Customized x86 hardware to host VNF elements
  • Optimized hypervisor platform to launch VNF elements
  • Solid foundation of orchestration engine
  • Flexible I/O options for network connectivity
  • Enterprise class storage devices which provide higher performing IOPs and throughput
  • Secure development lifecycle, run-time integrity and secure standards

Cisco DNA provides the hardware, software and management building blocks to achieve the simplicity and flexibility required by CIOs and IT managers in today’s digital business landscape.

Read more about network virtualization:

Extend Virtualization Beyond The Branch

Make network virtualization a reality with Cisco DNA Virtualization

Lookout for part two of my Enterprise NFV design recommendations blog series soon.


Jay Chokshi

Director Product Management

Enterprise Networking