Cisco extends intent-based networking to the Internet of Things

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Cisco has announced that it has extended its intent-based networking concept to the Internet of Things (IoT) with a specific focus on three IoT areas.

According to the announcement, the intent-based networking concept, which Cisco has been pushing hard since its announcement back in June 2017, will allow IT and network professionals to “manage the onboarding and administration of network-connected devices at scale”, allowing them to identify, locate and set policy for IoT devices, then both scale policy activation across IT and lines of business as well as provide real-time insights for efficient operations.

The Internet of Things market is growing rapidly, leaving enterprises with both a large number and new kinds of devices that need to be connected, protected, and available and Cisco was keen to note that it has been working on building networks to support the IoT for years.

According to a blog post from Scott Harrell, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business, a bunch of new devices like smart light switches in a building, IV pumps in a hospital, oil temperature sensors on a drilling rig, or any type of industrial controls help business’ bottom line and according to Cisco’s forecast, by 2020, 46 percent of network devices will communicate machine-to-machine.

Generally, the IoT devices are far from secure and according to a Cisco report, attackers now have the ability to infect 100,000 IoT devices in a 24-hour period.

Cisco DNA enhancements, as Cisco decided to call them, aims to help in managing the changing extent of networks and expanding the benefits of intent-based networking to IoT. 

Cisco has brought three big improvements to the IoT with its intent-based networking, focusing on three areas of the Internet of Things.

The first improvement is called the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), which is a software that recognizes devices as they connect and reports back detailed information about the device, including manufacturer, model number, and installed software. This allows IT and network administrators to automatically classify and identify IoT devices and user groups, and it includes devices that support industrial and building protocols like BACNet, Profinet, CIP, and Modbus.

The second improvement, as Cisco names it, is scaling Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) to the extended enterprise, by extending the benefits of SD-Access from the campus to other areas like distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing plants, roadways or oil rigs. With the latest DNA Center software release which supports select Industrial Ethernet Switches, Compact Switches and Digital Building Switches, this allows IT and network administrators to extend network policies across outdoor spaces with no additional management overhead.

The third improvement focuses on the new Operation Insights cloud-based service which uses network intelligence to optimize and secure business process, allowing IT and network administrators to track assets and IoT devices as well as collect data from sensors. These include multiple use cases in various industries and markets, including healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Cisco promises that these intent-based networking tools won’t just make managing devices more intuitive but also provide necessary control with the growing number of IoT devices.

Cisco was also keen to note that it is working on further intent-based networking innovations including the new Catalyst 9500 supporting 100G with services, the smartest AP with the Aironet 4800, and the new Routing Software Subscriptions that will allow the customer to get world class SD-WAN on any platform.