The Network. Intuitive. What does it mean to companies in Asia?
Managing Director, Software and Network Transformation
The evolution of mobile devices and data has gone beyond all expectations in the last years and there’s no slowing down. Today, there are over 17 billion connected devices, in 2021 there will be 27 billion – three times the global population! While we can all agree this is a positive change for users and business, hyper-connectivity has also unlocked a few unwanted challenges for enterprises, mainly the difficulty to manage all of those devices, with speed and security.
This wouldn’t be a challenge if the network - the one single element that connects the ever-increasing number of users and devices - had evolved just as rapidly and with the same sophistication. Believe it or not, 95% of network operations are still done manually, box by box.
Also, think about all of the data networks carry that remain untapped. Can we really call it the “data economy” when one of the world’s biggest sources of data is still largely untapped?
Intuitive Network: See, learn, predict, automate
A new era of networking is in order and we take it upon ourselves to lead the transition to digital-ready networks. After all, 80% of the world’s data runs on Cisco’s networks and, as such, no one is better positioned to unlock the power of this incredible asset to help businesses be more efficient, secure and innovative.
The key to all this is visibility. While the network has always been capable of seeing the who, what, when, where and how of every single byte of data that flows across it, companies were never able to access it, let alone leverage it as context to automate. And that’s what Cisco’s new intuitive network is all about – the ability to see everything and act on it, because what can be seen, can be learned, predicted and, therefore, automated. In essence, a machine learning at scale, so smart that it can find the proverbial needle in the haystack, whether it is a network problem that impacts a user or a potential threat.
According to Gartner’s 2017 networking predictions, by 2020, 10% of enterprises will use intent-driven network design and operation tools - up from 0% today. Cisco is leading the take-off in this direction with the Digital Network Architecture (DNA) and the announcement of the industry’s first Software Defined Access (SDA), along with other hardware and software innovation. Catch this announcement in case you missed it.
A lot has been said about this innovation in the last days, so I want to focus on why it is important to companies in Asia. There are three things I’d like to call out.
Asia-Pacific leads in mobile users and data
The challenge of managing so many users and devices is particularly real in this part of the world. By 2020, there will be 5.5 billion global users, 3 billion of which in Asia-Pacific, with Indonesia, China and India leading the way. This represents 47% of the global mobile traffic, pretty much half of all of the other regions combined!
In this context, SDA is a very powerful tool. SDA is the policy-based automation for users, devices and things that will help companies automate activities like configuration, provisioning and troubleshooting. All those tasks that will take minutes rather than months, helping companies save time and money that can be redirected to innovation and other activities that deliver more value back to the business.
With so many users and devices, it’s only normal that problems happen. With today’s tools, fixing them it consumes 75% of IT time. If IT must spend so much time on network changes and troubleshooting, tirelessly trying to find the root cause of underlying issues, how can we ever expect IT to scale to the needs of digital? Cisco also announced the Network Data Platform and Assurance that will change this. By using machine learning, combined with Cisco’s customer support intelligence, this solution allows IT not only to quickly correlate the data and identify the source of the problem, but also predict and prevent it.
Opportunity to leapfrog in the market
In Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ), companies spend about USD $11 Billion every year running networks. When you think about this cost in the context of how manual, error-prone and time-consuming current techniques are, it is hard not to recognize the substantial opportunity that a digital network can provide – all at a time when innovation and fast go-to-market is critical to business success.
Honestly, network transformation is not an easy task, especially for bigger companies. It compares to a large aircraft at cruising altitude trying to make a sharp turn. Customers, services, devices, nothing can be put on hold, so the shift must be steady.
From this perspective, APJ may actually have the advantage to leapfrog in the market. In many countries, networks are still at early stages of maturity. This can represent an opportunity for companies to innovate much faster, as they are less held down by complex, legacy networks delaying the transition a digital approach.
Asia runs the highest risk of cyber-attacks
Asia-Pacific encountered the most cyberattacks in 2016 compared to other regions. In fact, 2016 was a record year with ransomware families growing by a whopping 752% and netting US$1 billion in monetary gains.
If other reasons weren’t powerful enough, security should be the overwhelming catalyst for companies in Asia to digitize their networks. Not only does the immaturity of many networks in the region leave it particularly vulnerable, the market complexity - with too vendors and products - exposes companies more than it protects them.
This is where Cisco takes a completely different angle from other vendors, by offering an integrated approach that taps into all of the data that flows through the network and leverages the visibility only the network can provide. This is how Cisco makes security a lot simpler and effective – the most effective it can get these days.
As threats become more sophisticated, Cisco is also adding in new capabilities to stay ahead of the bad guys. For instance, the newly announced Catalyst 9k delivers the ability to detect threats in encrypted traffic with near 100% accuracy, leveraging machine learning and the unique visibility to all flows on the network that only Cisco can provide. In addition, SDA finally makes network segmentation easy to implement, something we have been talking about for years, but has been difficult to do. With the rising number of devices and points of attack in Asia, SDA can now segment the network with a just a few clicks – separating the trusted and untrusted and dramatically minimizing the impact of attacks like the WannaCry ransomware.
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