IT today is overworked, understaffed, and managing an increasingly complex network. Use cases for IoT are expanding. The proliferation of devices isn’t slowing down. The workforce is becoming more mobile. And applications and workloads are moving to the cloud and multicloud at a rapid pace. Without automation, managing today’s new era of networking is an exhausting task. And network growth is only increasing. In fact, Gartner projects that there will be 20.4 billion connected devices by 2024. To make things even more complex, new endpoints like security cameras, vending machines, and building management systems are now connected to the network today.

The days of a simple, wired network are long gone, and scalability is difficult because of the complexity caused by a wireless network overlayed and managed independent of the wired network. Policy orchestration is labor intensive. Disparate solutions make network management inconsistent. And network troubleshooting is time-consuming. It’s clear that legacy networks are no longer sustainable for deploying, maintaining, and updating networks. It is into this landscape that Cisco’s intent-based networking (IBN) architecture and Catalyst 9000 enters in to simplify your network, unlock the power of automation, and free IT to focus on digital transformation.

Montana State University (MSU) is a textbook example of an unsustainable network environment. MSU established a separate network infrastructure to facilitate interdisciplinary research and data sharing among colleagues.

“We had researchers across disciplines with a common need to share data with colleagues. We wanted to make sure we facilitated that and provided a network to enable their discovery.”
 – Jerry Sheehan, MSU VP for information technology and chief information officer

This new network solved the university’s original challenge of network performance for its researchers. But the operation, management, refreshing, and upgrading of this new network and its existing on-campus network created cost and time inefficiencies for IT.

Creating a future-proof network

As connectivity is enhanced with technologies like Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, end users expect a consistent experience, regardless of location. And increasingly, you have to manage a more complex network with less staff. IBN simplifies the complex and gives you more time to focus on business-critical tasks.

With a network based on intent, wired and wireless become a seamless architecture. By building on Software-Defined Networking, IBN transforms the network from a manual to automated approach. This software-centric network captures business intent and uses analytics, machine learning, and automation to align with ever-changing business needs. IT efficiency and scalability are created through automation for user, security, compliance, and operations.

Cisco Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) makes consistent, automated policy across campus and branch possible. End-to-end user-group segmentation is automated and seamlessly managed to ensure access is secure and endpoints have appropriate levels of access.

IBN expresses business intent that can be exchanged, enforced, and monitored across multiple domains. When it comes to managing IT complexity, an internal Cisco report found that intent-based networking delivers a proven cost savings of 20 to 30 percent. With increased network visibility, IT can quickly troubleshoot the network, which creates operational efficiencies.

Enabling simplicity through intent-based networking

These capabilities might appear complicated for IT to manage. But with Cisco DNA Center, IT can provision and configure network devices in just minutes through a single console.  With multi-domain integration, IBN architecture enables a network that securely and efficiently connects users, regardless of location, to applications and services wherever they’re hosted.

In the case of MSU, the university brought together its two independent networks with Cisco SD-Access. With this software-defined network, MSU gained the flexibility, scalability, and enhanced capabilities to meet the demands of its users.

“Cisco Software-Defined Access decouples network functions from hardware, so it is extremely efficient. We’re able to operate the new, expanded research network with minimal staff and low operational investment. Configuring a converge software-defined network versus two physical networks is transformative.”
– Gregory Hess, Montana State University Network Manager

We’ve seen how IBN creates time and infrastructure efficiencies for IT in higher education environments. Discover what kind of value IBN can bring to your organization.

And stay tuned: In future blogs, we’ll take a closer look at different aspects of Cisco’s intent-based networking architecture and the simplicity it creates for our customers.


Make your intent-based network do more with the multidomain architecture



Muninder Sambi

VP, Product Management

Cisco Enterprise Switching