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Cisco prioritizes ThousandEyes automation, integrations

Cisco ThousandEyes general manager Mohit Lad aims to have the internet monitor adapt to changes in the WAN without human intervention.

Cisco's goal for its ThousandEyes internet monitoring platform is to spot problems and make changes before something on the network breaks. But before network managers hand control to Cisco, the company will have to win their trust.

Winning customers over is the job of ThousandEyes general manager Mohit Lad, who co-founded the namesake company that Cisco acquired in 2020. His strategy is to convince IT administrators that the product's recommendations for fixing problems are highly reliable.

"[It] is really necessary to build trust with the customer that the recommendations are actually working, [that] they're effective," Lad said in a recent interview.

IT managers recognize that automation will become necessary to keep up with growing complexity as networks extend from the data center to multiple cloud computing providers. In that scenario, many dependencies outside a manager's network affect application performance, Lad said.

For example, a SaaS application provider could change where the application is hosted or start using a content delivery network. When potentially disruptive changes occur, Lad wants ThousandEyes to notice and react without human intervention.

Mohit Lad, co-founder and general manager, ThousandEyesMohit Lad

"You can't take the approach of just what's going through a device," Lad said. "You have to figure out what the application experience is; you have to figure out what dependencies are. You need to map it constantly."

ThousandEyes competes with LogicMonitor, SolarWinds and Splunk in monitoring WAN and web app health. A key ThousandEyes differentiator is its integration with other products in Cisco's massive portfolio, including the software-defined WAN, AppDynamics application performance monitor and Catalyst campus switches.

Eventually, ThousandEyes will play a role in all of the company's networking portfolio, including switches, routers, firewalls and wireless controllers. At the Cisco Live conference last month, Todd Nightingale, executive vice president of Cisco's enterprise networking and cloud business, said the company would complete the integrations as rapidly as possible.

"Right in the beginning of that project ... it became very obvious to us that ThousandEyes was going to be our network intelligence platform across all of Cisco's products," Nightingale said. "You're starting to see that more and more."

Before the end of the year, Cisco plans to integrate ThousandEyes with its Meraki wireless LAN portfolio. The portfolio includes switches, gateways, access points and routers -- all managed through the Meraki dashboard. IT administrators will access ThousandEyes data through the cloud-based software console.

"We want to make it super simple for [customers] with the Meraki implementations just like we've done with the Catalyst 9000s and ISRs [Integrated Services Routers]," Lad said. "When we provide that intelligence on what's happening across the internet, it is something that can be used by every Cisco product."

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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