Cisco Live in 2017 may prove to show to customers and analysts an interesting set of strategic shifts at Cisco. Rather than a set of product announcements, I am looking for strategic directions.
We may see how Cisco’s wide range of assets, from traditional enterprise networking through security and analytics, are coming together to create a holistic infrastructure. This includes Cisco's intent to acquire VIptela to extend its branch office and SD-WAN offerings and portfolio.
That sort of promise has been made before when it announced DNA (Digital Network Architecture), but we’ve been waiting for all the technical pieces to fall into place.
Given its acquisitions and announcements from various parts of the company, perhaps all of the pieces are starting to come together. Cisco previously announced its intent-based networking solutions, which combine assets such as traffic analysis, a new Catalyst 9000, and DNA Center. That may have acted as a preview for what's in store.
I'm also interested in the notion of SD-Access. Yes, it’s yet another “software-defined” term, but I think it can bring policy enforcement and segmentation in a unified way – think of it as a way to centralize policy control where needed, but delegate access when necessary. Those concepts have been part of Cisco’s portfolio via products such as ACI in the data center (using APIC) and APIC-EM (in the enterprise), but this brings it forward one more step.
Security is also a critical part of its intent-based networking announcement. It’s a large growing part of its portfolio, proving that Cisco is just as much a security company as a traditional networking company. Combining those two assets will prove to be powerful.
Note that SD-Access from Cisco is not the same as SD-Access as defined by ADTRAN in the broadband space. I know that no central academy controls the definition of networking terminology, so it will take a flurry of marketing to basically sort it out. We’ll see how the term SD-Access gets accepted!
We all know that large ships take time to turn, but I am starting to see patterns, and I hope you will too.