Who could have foreseen the changes to our organizations and enterprise technologies over the past two years? But as many enterprises continue to drive digital transformation at an unprecedented rate, perhaps a better question is: how will they look two years from now?
As IDC says in its Future Enterprise Practices series: “Soon, most CEOs will be running companies that look more digital than physical.”
The research firm naturally recognizes the importance of enterprise networks in this evolution, adding: “For consumers and organizations, increased reliance on digital engagement requires ubiquitous, reliable, and robust connectivity.”
To help IT leaders achieve this state, we have published a series of articles on how to modernize your enterprise network. In this final instalment, we reveal three key strategies to future-proof your enterprise, along with the tools needed to support these approaches.
These three strategies revolve around the connectivity, security and automation required to ensure your organization’s network is ready for whatever comes next. At Cisco we are bringing this within the reach of any organization by delivering secure agile networks powered by Cisco Catalyst full stack – a complete software and hardware networking portfolio to meet all your business and IT needs. Let’s see how:
1. Reimagine connectivity
As we saw in an earlier article, IT leaders face big challenges in connecting today’s increasingly distributed workforce and growing number of devices at the network edge.
That’s why at Cisco, we continue to evolve our solutions to help IT leaders meet these challenges. For example, our Cisco Catalyst full stack powered by Cisco DNA Software has been designed for IT teams to more easily create a pervasive environment for people and devices to connect from anywhere, via wired or wireless networks.
Cisco Catalyst full stack provides a diverse range of connectivity, including:
- Access points with Wi-Fi 6 support that offer higher capacity, improved latency, and better power efficiency than ever before
- Access switches that bring wired and wireless together to simplify operations, enable continuous optimization, enhance security, and scale with efficiency
- Core and distribution switches that connect multi-domain networks for streamlined operations, lower costs, better security, and easier scalability
- Wireless controllers to fortify your network and allow it to be deployed anywhere—including in the cloud
- Edge Platform devices that enhance application experiences and deliver scalable, flexible, and secure cloud connectivity to the network edge
- Industrial network devices, including switches, routers, compute gateways, wireless and embedded IoT devices that are purpose-built for harsh environments and provide industry-leading reliability and performance.
2. Reinforce security
Many IT leaders will understand the challenges involved in securing their ever-expanding enterprise networks that feature highly distributed apps, hybrid workers, and more Internet of Things (IoT) and other edge devices. The increasing attack surface isn’t the only issue.
Cisco Umbrella security infrastructure processes more than 620 billion internet requests across the globe each day. We analyzed that data for our 2021 Cybersecurity threat trends report. And while we found four threat types—crypto mining, phishing, ransomware, and trojans—were easily the most active, the bigger concern was the ongoing trend to more complex, multi-staged attacks that involve multiple threat types.
To defend today’s complex IT environments against this type of attack, it’s vital to secure your network with continuous, zero-trust, identity-based access for users and devices to use applications, services, and data.
Cisco Catalyst full stack can help you do this with software and services that include:
- Cisco Umbrella, which offers flexible, cloud-delivered security with multiple functions into one solution, so you can extend protection to devices, remote users, and distributed locations anywhere
- Identity Services Engine (ISE), which enables a dynamic and automated approach to policy enforcement, simplifies the delivery of zero-trust security, empowers software-defined access, and automates network segmentation
- Cisco Secure Network Analytics with Encrypted Traffic Analytics, the industry’s first network system that can find and mitigate threats faster than ever before, even when they’re encrypted
- Cisco Cyber Vision, which can secure your industrial control systems and IoT devices, ensuring production continuity, resilience, and safety.
3. Redefine automation
Ultimately, IT leaders should aim to build enterprise networks that are as agile and secure as their other IT infrastructure. And that requires adopting a new, connected operating model to enable your team to better manage today’s complex networks.
To support this operating model, you need infrastructure that can automate network management and orchestration with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). It also should provide end-to-end visibility and insights from analytics of device, user, and application data across the network.
Good infrastructure now demands good software tools. For Cisco Catalyst full stack, that includes the following:
- Cisco DNA Center is a powerful network controller and dashboard that lets you take charge of your network and spend less time managing it. It provides automation and workflows that simplify, empower, and streamline network management. This includes automated assurance, segmentation, and policy enforcement across wired and wireless networks for advanced insights, monitoring, and protection. It also offers AI- and ML-enhanced analytics and insights to improve visibility and performance.
- Cisco vManage allows you to streamline and automate network management with Cisco SD-WAN. It simplifies and scales multi-cloud connectivity, and enables the transition to flexible new security frameworks, such as secure access service edge (SASE).
- With ThousandEyes, you can monitor digital experiences with unrivaled visibility across internet and cloud services, and your enterprise networks.
- Cisco DNA Spaces uses the data from physical devices to provide insights that can help you create a workplace that is safe, smart, and seamless.
- Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series switches and Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms family offer application hosting that includes support for Docker apps. This allows you to bring cloud apps to the network edge—and data processing and intelligence closer to the data source.
- With access to DevNet, your developers will have an array of tools to add programmability and automation to your network. These include application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools that provide a consistent way to make network-wide changes, integrate your network into your IT systems and processes, and extend software support to third-party network devices.
IDC lays down the challenge ahead for IT leaders in blunt terms: “As digital interactions continue to increase, it is clear that connectivity is not yet seamless or pervasive. Organizations will need to address this unevenness in connectivity across different environments and locations.”
With Cisco Catalyst full stack, we will help you meet that challenge. With its unified hardware and software stack, and continuous innovations through Cisco DNA subscriptions, you can future-proof your enterprise network.
To learn how Cisco can help you reimagine your enterprise network,
see our introduction to the