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Cisco strategy revolves around multi-domain architecture

Cisco aims to interconnect various networking domains -- from the data center to the cloud -- in an approach it has dubbed multi-domain architecture.

LAS VEGAS -- Cisco is building architecture to help customers unify diverse networking domains -- a Cisco strategy that will rely on software.

At Cisco Partner Summit 2018, the networking vendor outlined what it terms a multi-domain architecture. David Goeckeler, executive vice president of networking and security business at Cisco, said the goal is to securely connect any user, on any device, in any network to any application.

Goeckeler said Cisco's new take on architecture is prompted by enterprise expansion to the cloud, which has complicated IT for technology managers. Applications that used to run in the data center are now "all over the place," provided through SaaS vendors and cloud providers.

An organization's network infrastructure must provide access to these scattered systems. Goeckeler said network domains, in general, include data center, campus, branch and external cloud providers. Security, meanwhile, overlays all of the networking environments. 

"All of these [domains] have been kind of thought about as independent parts of the network, and they are all changing on their own," Goeckeler said.

Cisco strategy addresses aging networks

Networks built 30 years ago are not geared to that environment, he said, adding that CIOs are left to manage a situation characterized by ever-changing dynamics.

Building this architecture ... is the biggest opportunity we have seen in a very long time in the networking business.
David Goeckelerexecutive vice president at Cisco

Goeckeler said the Cisco strategy -- the multi-domain architecture -- aims to interconnect the various networking domains with "one big software system."

In a blog post, Goeckeler suggested elements of the multi-domain architecture are already in place. He pointed to Cisco's software-defined WAN product line that is integrated with Cisco's security offerings, which, in turn, are linked with the Meraki Dashboard and DNA Center.

"We are now beginning to integrate DNA (campus) and ACI [Application Centric Infrastructure] (data center) together through common policies that can map across these domains," Goeckeler wrote.

"Building this architecture ... is the biggest opportunity we have seen in a very long time in the networking business," Goeckeler said, speaking at Cisco Partner Summit 2018.

Extending intent-based networking

Jason Parry, vice president of client solutions at Force 3, an IT solutions provider and Cisco partner based in Crofton, Md., said the Cisco strategy around its multi-domain architecture appears to be an effort to expand upon earlier software-defined efforts. He pointed to Cisco's SD-Access, an intent-based networking offering that provides a network fabric spanning LANs and wireless LANs.

"Where something like SD-Access is very campus-driven, they are building platforms that extend that [intent-based networking] across various domains," Parry said.

He said Cisco could use its recent Duo identity management acquisition to extend intent-based networking via security policies, for example.

Clayton Daffron, director of solution architecture at Denali Advanced Integration, a managed services provider and Cisco partner based in Redmond, Wash., said Cisco's stated goal for a while has been to create dynamic, programmable environments that orchestrate networks from the endpoint to, potentially, the cloud. He cited Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure in the data center and intent-based networking in the campus setting as examples.

"Cisco loves to tie as many things together as possible," Daffron noted.

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