I’ve written quite extensively on intent-based networking in the past. There are many vendors that own various subsets of the topology such as orchestration, translation, validation and optimization. Others, such as Cisco Systems with its “Network Intuitive” strategy, are endeavoring to take a more comprehensive and closed-loop approach, including all these elements to automate the entire networking process.
Regardless of individual vendor strategy, the notion of assurance is critical. It ensures the desired state of a network is realized and—more importantly—maintained, with some degree of automated corrective action for self-healing. Today I will examine a handful of network assurance providers and provide my thoughts on each’s capability.
Cisco Systems is the major incumbent in the networking industry. It is by far the “800lb gorilla” and is well-positioned in the right areas. Cisco’s DNA Center Assurance provides proactive and predictive analytics while delivering network visibility and actionable insights. Add in natural language search and time-based replay capabilities, and the company delivers network operational efficiency. Cisco has been executing on its Intent-based networking vision in the data center for some time with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), and adding assurance to its portfolio would close the loop of intent for network operators.
NETSCOUT bills itself as a provider of business assurance to the enterprise and service provider community, with an emphasis on network monitoring, data collection, insight, and cybersecurity. The company markets products such as IRIS and GEOPROBE that fall squarely into the assurance category of network monitoring and troubleshooting. What I also like about its go-to-market approach is support for mobile access networks. For example, GeoSoft RAN supports a scalable SDN-based monitoring, corrective action, and optimization approach for 3G and 4G LTE networks. I look forward to what the company is developing for the future 5G networks that are expected to begin rolling out late this year and into early 2019.
So how does a Chris Farley (RIP) movie factor into network assurance, you might ask? Well it just so happens that “Tommy Boy” features some of my favorite quotes about guarantees and assurances. I won’t cite them specifically but suffice it to say you don’t need a brake pad box, a butcher, or bull’s behind to make network assurance a reality!