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 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.
Apstra announced today its AOS 2.1. The company claims that its latest release allows operators to continuously validate network intent across a multi-vendor environment and self-heal. With its “Intent-Based Analytics,” operators can reduce cost, eliminate network outages, and build a more agile network environment. I’ve personally spoken with CEO Mansour Karam, and if the company can truly deliver on its promise of a closed-loop OS it could be groundbreaking.
NETSCOUTNETSCOUTbills 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!
Will Townsend manages the networking and security practices for Moor Insights & Strategy focused on carrier infrastructure providers, carrier services, enterprise networking and security. He brings over 30 years of technology industry experience in a variety of product, marketing, channel, business development and sales roles to his advisory position.
Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights) in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.