Managing global service provider networks while coping with massive growth

Cisco expects 27 billion devices and connections will be running on service provider networks by 2021. That means growing pressure on managers to predict change and react in real time, and for the industry to adopt complete lifecycle network automation and intent-based networking.

Traditional operations staff cannot keep up with adding nearly 10 percent more devices every year without changing how they work. The new Cisco Crosswork Network Automation software portfolio promises a typical 70% improvement in operational efficiency, 30% revenue uplift and a 40% percent improvement in customer satisfaction.

As a result, innovative global service providers have a joined-up solution to automating their networks and to exploring how to effectively extract and manage huge amounts of data – helping their networks respond quickly to a wide range of events and impending security threats, as well as network growth.

This new Cisco portfolio offers a single point of integration with zero-touch telemetry, machine learning intuition, open APIs and automated actions that offer a simpler experience.  It’s backed by Cisco Services to assist customers with planning, customization and implementation.

By working together, the portfolio products offer three main benefits – greater network visibility at scale (mass awareness), data-driven insights (augmented intelligence) and outcome-based automation (proactive control).

The new system is already being used by Australian company Telstra.

New software technologies include:

Cisco Crosswork Change Automation: Automated operations application that enables large-scale change and closed-loop control

Cisco Crosswork Health Insights: Smart sensors, smart alerts and smart remediation to monitor and optimize networks

Cisco Crosswork Data Platform: Featuring both an OpenSource and commercial-class data analytics platform

Cisco Crosswork Network Insights: Cloud-based analytics solution for solving large-scale routing issues

Cisco Crosswork Situation Manager: Machine learning-based event correlation with social operations featuring social tools such as chat functions to solve repair issues quickly

The Cisco Crosswork Network Automation solution: extends capabilities of the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO), offering the industry’s most comprehensive closed-loop multi-vendor, multi-domain automation solution, with service orchestration and automation applications that support third-party solutions with open APIs.

Seven customer challenges, seven Cisco solutions

Cisco has identified seven specific problem areas in network management, and designed portfolio products they claim will provide fast and simple solutions.

  1. Human driven network changes are error prone, time consuming, and lack comprehensive validation.

Cisco Network Services Orchestrator transforms network changes into intent-driven deployments with automatic validation

  1. Data silos make network data impossible to analyze and correlate.

Cisco Crosswork Data Platform creates a single point to seamlessly collect, analyze, and visualize network data across multiple services and domains

  1. Customer experience suffers when variations in network quality go unnoticed.

Cisco Crosswork Data Platform, combined with Cisco Crosswork Health Insights, uses real-time visualization with analytics to provide unparalleled insight into network performance.

  1. The time needed to manually identify network problems results in significant business effects when outages occur.

Cisco Crosswork Situation Manager uses artificial intelligence algorithms to automatically triangulate faults across multiple network domains, drastically reducing the time to isolate network outages, and provide root cause analysis to prevent future outages.

  1. Remediating network problems is a slow and manual process.

Cisco Crosswork Change Automation uses analytics enhanced closed-loop automation to automatically remediate network issues as they happen.

  1. Global Routing Scale errors can cause dramatic outages.

Cisco Crosswork Network Insights enables a cloud-first approach for resolving challenges in the rapidly changing global routing environment.

  1. Networks are not continually optimized for business and service needs.

Cisco WAN Automation Engine (WAE) and XR Traffic Controller (XTC) use advanced telemetry and analytics to improve network performance in real time without human intervention

Cisco also claims its new portfolio offers easy onboarding into the network automation process.

Jonathan Davidson, Cisco senior vice president and general manager, Service Provider Networking, tells us that ‘Our primary goal for network automation is to help our customers turn growing pains into growing profit.’ And they can do that by streamlining operations, so they can spend ‘less time on tactical ‘firefighting’ and more time on identifying and trialling new revenue streams.’

How does it work in practice? Telstra’s David Robertson, Director, Network Transport & Routing Engineering, reports ’Our work with Cisco to reinvent our network operations through orchestration, automation and advanced data models offers us valuable insight’. Principle areas – mass data collection, applying analytics and machine learning, and taking decisive action through automation.

So for anyone responsible for major network management, Cisco’s new Crosswork Network Automation software portfolio could be well worth looking into.

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Cisco Network Automation Product Portfolio

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