May 31, 2023

Cisco unveils networking cloud, streamlined Catalyst switch stack

Articles / News

LAS VEGAS — Cisco is taking another major step in unifying the management of its networking portfolio. Announced at this week's Cisco Live 2023, the tech giant introduced its new networking cloud, a vision to create a simpler network management platform experience to manage all Cisco networking products from one place.

As a networking giant, there are many technology areas, dubbed domains, within Cisco's networking portfolio, including SD-WAN, data center, campus, branch and IoT services. They are under the brands of Catalyst, Meraki and Nexus, "and inherent in all that is complexity," Juan Vela, global head of market strategy of Cisco Meraki, told SDxCentral.

"The networking cloud is essentially our approach to simplifying the portfolio," which consists of all the management domains and schemes for the hybrid cloud environments, he added.

Gradually, Cisco plans to converge its products into fewer and fewer platforms, then eventually land on a single management platform and a consistent user experience for its networking, security and other portfolios, Vela noted.

One of the essential steps to simplify the networking portfolio is to allow customers to navigate across Cisco networking platforms, Vela said.

"Platform navigator allows our customers to jump from one platform to the next, without having to type in different URLs, without having to go to different windows. Essentially, from one drop-down menu, they’ll be able to go from the Meraki platform, to ThousandEyes for network assurance, to the security cloud," he said.

Additionally, Cisco enabled single sign-on (SSO) for customers to jump across different platforms without having to log in independently and added an API key exchange and repository, which makes it easier to connect and exchange data through automation across platforms.

On top of overall networking portfolio simplification, Cisco further streamlined and strengthened its Catalyst stack by rebranding its SD-WAN and adding more monitoring capabilities.

During last year's Cisco Live, the vendor announced it was connecting its Catalyst switching and wireless hardware to the Meraki cloud-based dashboard. And around a year later, 1,500 Cisco Catalyst users have already turned to the Meraki cloud management platform to view, troubleshoot and monitor their networks, the vendor touted.

For the journey to Meraki, Cisco offered Catalyst Switch users three steps, including cloud monitoring capabilities for select Catalyst Switches, cloud-manageable Wi-Fi 6E access points to certain Catalyst wireless devices and, lastly, fully cloud-managed access networks that combine Catalyst and Meraki.

This year, it introduced extended control of the cloud-connected Catalyst switches with visibility into command-line interfaces and device configurations through the Meraki dashboard. The new capabilities include features such as agile software image management and visibility into Catalyst access points managed by Catalyst wireless local area network controllers.

"Catalyst is a very powerful brand. It started off in switching; over the last few years, we extended it into wireless. We’re going to extend that brand into the SD-WAN domain," Vela said.

Cisco rebranded its Viptela solution to Catalyst SD-WAN, improving managing and monitoring WAN infrastructure with a cloud-based delivery model.

Additionally, the vendor expanded licensing options for Cisco Catalyst switches by combining hardware and software support into a single subscription.

Last year, Cisco introduced ThousandEyes WAN Insights, which aims to proactively forecast network conditions and provide recommendations for optimizing SD-WAN performance.

Integrating with predictive path recommendations, Cisco ThousandEyes WAN Insights now offers new closed-loop automation in Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN. Cisco helps IT proactively resolve network issues before they impact the application experience.

The vendor also announced end-to-end network assurance capability for ThousandEyes, which aims to deliver expanded visibility, automated insights and seamless workflows to assure digital experiences across any network.

In addition, Cisco also introduced AI Data Center Blueprint for Networking at this year's Cisco Live, which is an artificial intelligence and machine learning data center network blueprint for high-performance compute, InfiniBand to ethernet network migrations, and large-scale ML fabrics via the Cisco Nexus Dashboard, Nexus 9000 series and NX-OS implementations.