Cisco Enlists Networking Automation, CX Cloud in COVID-19 Response

At Cisco Live, the networking giant demonstrated how networking automation and cloud technologies have become key to pandemic response efforts.

Lauren Horwitz

March 31, 2021

4 Min Read

At Cisco Live 2021, the networking giant continued to position its intelligent networking and cloud technologies as essential onramps to the future of digital environments.

At the company’s Cisco Live conference on day one, executives demonstrated how the company’s networking and cloud orchestration technologies stitch disparate cloud environments together and enable Internet of Things (IoT) environments to solve key problems, such as ensuring the integrity of COVID-19 vaccine doses at an administration site in cold storage so vaccine doesn’t go to waste.

Todd Nightingale, senior vice president and general manager of networking and cloud, indicated that Cisco networking automation, combined with the CX Cloud platform, make it easier for IT pros to manage and monitor environments that require split-second decision making.

Not only can IT pros use surveillance cameras to monitor live video feed of people in motion at the vaccination site, but also they can use deployed IoT sensors to monitor the temperature of coolers to ensure that vaccines, which require storage at very cold temperatures, aren’t compromised by storage techniques.

“With CX Cloud and a tool called LaunchPad to enable IT pros to monitor multiple COVID-19 vaccine administration sites. That means accelerating our global pandemic recovery,” Nightingale said.

Experts note that cloud computing is now table stakes for IoT environments, but enlisting IoT, automation and cloud for real-time action also brings new layers of challenge.

“To fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing requires the adoption of cloud-native technologies.,” said Roy Illsley, Omdia IT ecosystem and operations. “However, cloud-native will increase complexity and requires a certain amount of automation to make it operate effectively.”

Infrastructure as Code Key to Networking Automation

Cloud integration is key to generating effective, accurate IoT data.

But another key part of the equation is networking automation—a long-standing goal of Cisco and other networking providers, which have been moving away from their hardware lineage.

Traditionally, networking has been configured in hardware, which often requires switches and routers to be configured one by one. But over the past several years, networking vendors such as Cisco, Juniper and Palo Alto have moved to software-defined networking principles that enable hardware switching to be configured, replicated and managed through software.

Nightingale highlighted the importance of these Infrastructure as Code principles at the Cisco Live keynote. He indicated that  networking programmability enables DevOps to deploy infrastructure in an automated, turnkey way so that they can keep pace with the speed of business.

“More and more of those users are embracing a new automation strategy: Infra as Code,” Nightingale said. “The ability to deploy hundreds of thousands of containers, hundreds of workloads, in just a few lines of code is incredibly powerful. With Infrastructure as Code, developers can manage physical infrastructure as software and deploy with unprecedented speed.”

Nightingale noted that this kind of automation enables IT pros to focus less on the slog of configuring infrastructure and more on creating scalable, secure and flexible infrastructure that can enable real-time processes.

Networking programmability makes the care and feeding of IT infrastructure less time-consuming and enables IT pros to turn their attention to more strategic issues.

“With the click of a button, I can deploy a massive private cloud using simple workflow automation, … gathering UCS [Unified Compute System] compute, storage, and any other resources including networking. This gives us a powerful graphical interface to develop repeatable workloads that can radically simplify how we deploy hybrid cloud. It can give us a simply way to deploy the networking infra which allows for secure segmentation and connectivity for our Kubernetes clusters.”

At the same time, while automation is critical to bring flexibility and turnkey management to these kinds of environments, it’s no small challenge to bring data center forces into discipline. Most organizations have only begun on this automation journey given IT silos.

“Addressing the automation gap, which is the gap between the manual ability to manage a data center and the complexity of the modern data center, is one of the biggest challenges faced by organizations today,” Illsley said.

Infrastructure as Code Becomes Critical During COVID-19

Nightingale noted that with COVID-19, Infrastructure as Code has become even more critical as remote workers can be productive in remote home environments.

‘Our infrastructure has to have the insights to tell us what is really happening whether workers are at home or in the office and to change our infrastructure with the click of a button,” he said.

Ultimately, Nightingale said that the pandemic has shone a light on the importance of Infrastructure as Code to create repeatable, secure and scalable Infrastructure.

“If we can provide real agility to react to changing needs, we can serve our users. We have seen this over the past year and finding ways to keep critical services running and workers working from home.



About the Author(s)

Lauren Horwitz

Lauren Horwitz is a senior content director on Channel Futures, Channel Partners and IoT World Today.

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