Mary Piontkowski is Head of Product Design at Cisco Meraki
Srinivas Kotamraju is Vice President of Product Management, Data Center Networking, at Cisco
This article was originally published on Cisco.com.
Simplifying How Customers Unleash the Power of Our Platforms
Organizations seeking to transform their IT operations are looking to new technological advancements to help improve connectivity, efficiency, and speed. While new technologies may solve existing challenges or provide a foundation for meeting growth goals, they often also introduce new levels of complexity to what is already a complex IT infrastructure.
To overcome complexity, and for transformation to have the greatest chance for success, an environment of simplicity is needed. And simplicity is what IT stakeholders want: 85% of 18,400 CIOs, IT decision makers, and developers surveyed in a new global study commissioned by Cisco, state that simplicity is one of the most important values of technology management.1
Simplify the Platform Experience
Simplifying the platform experience is a core tenet of our Cisco Networking Cloud vision. One of the ways it seeks to reduce technology and network complexity is by creating a simple-to-use, unified platform experience. The result is a cohesive, consistent, and secure way to log in to all Cisco products via single sign-on (SSO) and quickly navigate between different Cisco cloud networking platforms through shared menus and more seamless integrations.
For example, linking an API key exchange/repository with SSO, on top of this cross-platform connectivity, makes it easier to monitor across Cisco networking platforms at scale and exchange data through automation—which can help reduce friction and errors. Silos are eliminated and everyone can access the resources they need, wherever and whenever they need them.
A unified platform experience gives everything the same familiar look and feel, terminologies, APIs, and workflows. This brings greater consistency and ease of use for IT staff to learn, operate, and leverage multiple networking platforms. A unified platform experience can also help streamline and scale complex processes, while increasing operational simplicity, efficiency, and reliability. This gives organizations even greater power and flexibility to transform the business.
Simplify Visibility into Sustainability
Another key aspect of the Cisco Networking Cloud vision is that it aims to simplify visibility into data center power consumption and energy distribution. With data centers consuming an estimated 1% of electricity worldwide, gaining visibility into energy consumption and being able to act on this information is a critical need.2
Visibility into real-time energy usage—all the way down to individual power distribution units, circuits, and switches—can be used to gain insight into real-time and historical power consumption of single- or multi-site data center implementations.
Imagine easily accessing statistics and trends to estimate the full energy footprint of data center operations, while being able to turn off infrastructure components, reconfigure switches, and move or visualize workloads depending on power usage patterns across racks, switches, and ports. You could even align peak workloads with the times of the day when managed rates for power consumption are at the lowest. Such insights can help inform the designs of more sustainable data centers.
This isn’t just wishful thinking. Integrations with leading power management vendors and environmental APIs enable Cisco Nexus Dashboard to provide sustainability insights into the energy usage of a data center’s IT infrastructure, helping organizations optimize power consumption. In fact, 87% of respondents of our State of Global Innovation survey state that their organizations are already benefitting from innovative ways to make business operations more sustainable and energy efficient.3
Having access to actionable, real-time, and historical energy usage on data centers can help organizations transform enterprise-wide business processes, allowing them to refocus budgets and resources on strategic innovation. It can even help organizations shift their sustainability focus from risk and compliance to delivering new business outcomes—leveraging sustainability as a driver for differentiated, long-term value creation.
Simplify AI/ML Networking
Some of the most complex technologies that are in active development today center on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Most recently, some organizations have been looking to leverage generative-AI capabilities to help accelerate their digital transformations. This has put tremendous pressure on data centers to meet the high-bandwidth and complex, petascale-level computational requirements of AI/ML.
This need to simplify the transport of AI/ML network data is what prompted us to create a new AI data center blueprint for networking.
This blueprint enables automated, scalable, low latency networks with support for lossless transport, intelligent buffering, data/pipeline parallelism, and highly efficient network protocols. It provides a validated design that meets the requirements and traffic patterns of AI/ML workloads, with capabilities such as deterministic load-balancing, line-rate transmission, and congestion management. Our expertise with high-performance computing deployments and InfiniBand-to-Ethernet network migrations significantly influenced the blueprint.
The blueprint also seeks to simplify visibility and telemetry into network behavior to help drive troubleshooting and improve transport performance. For example, Cisco Nexus Dashboard automation templates give organizations added visibility to more easily build and manage their data centers for AI/ML applications.
In addition, Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches have intelligent buffer management built in, making it easier to build lossless fabrics and craft new automated AI/ML network configurations with Ansible modules. The Cisco Nexus 9000 platform also includes telemetry capabilities, such as flow table events and streaming statistics to help analyze network traffic and provide insight into problematic infrastructure with predictive analytics.
Achieve Measurable Business Value
With Cisco Networking solutions delivering a simplified platform experience, data-driven sustainability insights, and improved AI/ML network performance, organizations have an opportunity to drive IT transformation and achieve measurable business value. A network as an innovation platform facilitates the next generation of work, business models, and transformation.
This can empower organizations to move beyond technology silos and time-consuming integrations, with solutions that are simpler, converged, and outcome driven. This is why we believe our Cisco Networking Cloud vision enables our customers to connect everything, everywhere, without compromising on simplicity, even as new technologies continue to converge into the network space.
To learn more:
- Read about how our Cisco Networking Cloud vision enables IT teams to achieve audacious outcomes.
- Read why the power of the network is about to take a significant leap forward with predictive automations and other features.
- Learn how Cisco ThousandEyes helps IT preemptively identify network issues beyond the enterprise.
1 State of Global Innovation, Cisco, 2023.
2 Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks, International Energy Agency, September 2022.
3 State of Global Innovation, Cisco, 2023.