Cisco takes the first steps toward networking as a service

Cisco unwraps Cisco Plus, a NaaS service focused on security and today’s hybrid cloud

Cisco has made a big step forward with networking service as the first to enable customers to purchase enterprise networking hardware and software components on an as-needed basis.

The company announced its service, called Cisco Plus, at its virtual Cisco Live 2021! The conference, telling customers that its NaaS will deliver the best networking, security, computing, storage and applications with unified subscriptions that promise to be simple to use.

James Mobley, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Network Services Business Unit, said: “Distributing the network as a service is a great choice for businesses that want to move to an operational model. in the cloud makes it easy and simpler to buy and consume the components needed to improve and grow their business. “

Although Cisco plans over the next few years to introduce a multitude of service options under Cisco Plus, it’s now introducing two flavors. First, the Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud, which includes the company’s compute portfolio, networking, and data center storage in addition to third-party software and storage components are all controlled by a management package. Corporate Intersight cloud. Customers can choose the level of service they want to plan, design and install Mobley says.

The Cisco Plus hybrid cloud, which will be available mid-year, offers usage-based payments with 14-day delivery of the order, Mobley said.

With Cisco Plus, they will take NaaS and their hybrid cloud services to the next level by bringing the full hardware and portfolio into service offerings as a service, ” said Rohit Mehrahra. , offering cloud-like consumer simplicity and flexibility at one end, and on the other hand, it offers a host of intelligent operation improvements that go a long way to delivering enhanced IT experiences and results. high. “, vice president, network infrastructure services at IDC. This has also been done by enhancing embedded intelligence currently available in the network and IT hardware and software, along with advanced telemetry options in many of these platforms.

The second Cisco Plus service, without a timeframe available, will feature corporate secure access service (SASE) edge components, such as Cisco’s SD-WAN and Umbrella-based security software. cloud.

Security models as a service offer many advantages for organizations including, said Neil Anderson, senior director of network solutions at World Wide Technology, a technology and supply chain service provider. This includes offloading maintenance of hundreds or thousands of firewalls and other security devices.

“With SASE, businesses can consume it from the cloud and let others take care of the danger, freeing up their security team to focus on threat and prevention vectors,” he said.

While the strategy behind delivering network components as a cloud-based service has been around for a few years, it is not a widely used enterprise customer strategy. Cisco’s accession to NaaS has the potential to dramatically change that perception.

“Cisco has been on this journey for several years now – starting with offering subscription-based incentives for many of its software solutions – and working to simplify and wind up,” Mehra said. enrich the licensing and consumer experience. ”Mehra said:“ Customer understands and has embraced IT-like cloud-like consumption patterns that are typically subscription-based and provide scalability and capabilities. on other request. “

But the industry needs to play an educational role in increasing familiarity in this segment. For example, terms like NaaS are still largely new in the corporate landscape for most IT learners, although they understand that operational simplicity and flexibility will be critical to success. in their digital converter, Mehra said.

While NaaS may be relatively new to some customers, others already use it, other experts said. For remote access, the customer was more ready, and it was starting to get mainstream, Anderson said.

“To connect to the cloud edge, it will be coming soon and the adoption of SASE models for security will accelerate the demand for NaaS services,” he said. On-campus NaaS might take a little longer, but we see that coming soon. Some customer segments, like retail, may be ready today, while others like global finance will take longer to adopt.

The network is no longer just about connecting everything in private networks because there is a networked world to and between the clouds to take into account, Anderson said. For example, with private EDs, I typically connect my sites to my other sites as a private datacenter. Now, I need to connect my websites to cloud services and I could be doing the same with public internet services, “Anderson said.”

NaaS for the campus network is another use case on the horizon, he said. To build our campus network in the past, we had access, distribution, and core classes, and the core spanned my campus and sometimes private datacenter. It’s designed to aggregate traffic from users into my private data center, “says Anderson.” “Today, the vast majority of traffic is headed to the cloud — Office 365 is the tipping point. development of many organizations — so building a core network may not be necessary. I see a new architecture emerging, where the goal is to mount each site, including each building of the campus, with the direct internet to connect users to the cloud and allow early cloud [access] traffic, ultimately improving the user experience. “

Naas is by no means a slam dunk, and there will be challenges for businesses that use it. “For medium and large organizations that have significant investments in existing remote cybersecurity infrastructure, branches, campuses, and data centers, moving to NaaS will be difficult and time consuming. The multi-vendor environment will complicate this issue, ”said principal analyst at Doyle Research, Lee Doyle in a network world column this week.

Broad adoption of the NaaS business will be slow over the next five to 10 years, Doyle said. Best suited for now are greenfield sites, temporary sites and small branch offices. NaaS services will also appeal to remote, home, and mobile network workers who need secure, reliable application performance. Enterprise networks that require high-speed traffic movement on-premises will be harder to deliver, Doyle claims.

The main challenges, besides understanding what NaaS will help provide, face IT practitioners who are potential customers as well as service providers and providers, Mehra said.

On the customer side, what we need to see will be the changing role of IT and how it can optimally consume these technologies as a service while retaining overall control of IT’s IT environment. me, Mr. Mehra Mehra said. On the supplier side, visibility on issues such as flexibility and operational simplicity will be one area to consider, while another will be the direction the industry is taking towards the measurement service options it offers to its customers.

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