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Cisco launches cloud management of Catalyst, Nexus switches

The latest addition to the cloud-based Cisco Meraki console expands the company's subscription-based pricing for network monitoring and management software.

LAS VEGAS -- Cisco added Nexus data center and Catalyst campus switches to its growing portfolio of cloud-based management options and introduced a cloud-native version of the AppDynamics application performance monitor.

At the Cisco Live conference on Tuesday, the company also introduced predictive analytics, called WAN Insights, to the cloud-based ThousandEyes internet intelligence platform.

The latest technologies expand the network management and monitoring features Cisco offers through subscription-based pricing that links the cloud to the company's hardware. Subscription-based pricing for software running in the cloud and on network and security hardware accounts for more than 40% of the company's revenue.

Cisco has seen significant customer demand for cloud-based network management tools, Lawrence Huang, a Cisco vice president of product management, said.

"Moving beyond storage and compute to look at how you actually leverage cloud management to drive greater operational efficiency -- that's now at the forefront for many of our customers," he said.

Cisco rolled into its cloud-based Meraki dashboard support for the Catalyst 9200, 9300 and 9500 campus switches and attached smart cameras, sensors and other devices. The dashboard-provided data includes device state and firmware version. The console also displays alerts and higher-level insights like traffic flow.

Eventually, Cisco plans to include the entire Catalyst 9000 series of switches and access points within the Meraki console, Huang said. The goal is to let customers monitor and troubleshoot their entire campus network from one platform.

Meraki dashboard manages the MR55 AP.
The Meraki dashboard manages switches and access points, including the MR55 AP shown here.

For its Nexus data center switches, Cisco launched a cloud-based version of the on-premises Nexus Dashboard. The new product, Nexus Cloud, provides some of the features available in Nexus Dashboard. Cisco plans to add features to Nexus Cloud over time to eventually bring it on par with the older product.

For now, smaller customers who don't want to invest in Nexus Dashboard can use Nexus Cloud to onboard devices, create policy and analyze traffic, said Todd Brannon, Cisco's senior director of cloud platforms marketing. Customers who already use Nexus Dashboard will get access to Nexus Cloud at no additional cost.

Cisco's focus on cloud delivery of network management tools addresses IT managers' demand for simpler, more affordable technology, Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, said. According to a recent EMA survey of 409 IT professionals, only 28% prefer to manage their networks on premises. The rest want to use the cloud.

"It starts to cost money if you're devoting servers and data center [space] to just this tool," McGillicuddy said. He also pointed out that deploying and maintaining on-premises tools for distributed networks is too complex and time-consuming for many IT departments.

AppDynamics Cloud is an observability platform for monitoring and managing cloud-native Kubernetes environments on AWS. The company plans to expand AppDynamics Cloud to support Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and other cloud providers in the future.

The new product ingests and correlates events, logs and metrics across a company's cloud environment to monitor the health of distributed applications. The high-level view helps network managers optimize costs, speed up troubleshooting and ensure data security, Cisco executives said.

Cisco plans to make AppDynamics Cloud generally available on June 28.

ThousandEyes WAN Insights is the first product to use the cloud-based predictive engine that the company introduced last month. The predictive engine is an AI-powered analytics tool that alerts managers to potential connectivity problems by identifying network abnormalities.

Cisco plans to integrate the predictive engine into other products, Cisco engineering fellow JP Vasseur said.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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