The rise of network virtualization will eventually flatten the management of corporate networks. At a Cisco Live event today, Cisco took a significant step in that direction with the launch of an Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) appliance, rationalizing the delivery of Cisco and third-party network services to the branch office that can now be programmatically managed via a Cisco Secure Agile Exchange platform that can be deployed in any data center or cloud service.
At the same time, Cisco is moving to better secure those services via an update to the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) that makes it simpler to prioritize responses to specific threats, as well as an upgrade to Cisco TrustSec that makes it easier to apply policies across a segmented network.
Prashanth Shenoy, senior director of enterprise networks for Cisco, says these additions to the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) are the latest additions to a Cisco effort to unify the management of networks across branch offices, campus networks and the data center.
In general, Shenoy says, networking as a technology has reached a critical point in terms of being able to meet the need for more agile IT environments. While there have been significant server and storage advances, the adoption of network virtualization technologies has been comparably slow. As organizations look to implement digital business strategies that depend on network virtualization technologies, Shenoy says, IT organizations are finally being required to rethink legacy approaches to managing their networks.
“Networking is going to either be viewed as the hero for enabling delivery of those services or the villain,” says Shenoy.
A new study involving 2,054 organizations conducted by International Data Corp. (IDC) on behalf of Cisco finds that those that have modernized their networks are experiencing two to three times more revenue growth. The challenge is that fewer than half those respondents (45 percent) said they expect to able to deploy digital-ready networks within the next two years.
Hoping to accelerate that process, Shenoy says that Cisco is also making available a series of self-assessment tools along with consulting services designed to specifically help IT organizations make the transition to a software-defined networking (SDN) environment.
While interest in network virtualization and SDN technologies in the enterprise is high, many organizations are challenged by the relative maturity of the technologies available and a lack of available skills to master them. Nevertheless, the transition to network virtualization and SDN technologies is now all but inevitable. The only real issue over the next four to five years is at what end of the network virtualization adoption curve any given IT organization will eventually find itself on.