Cisco unveils innovations for observability as it looks to future networking vision

As it kicked off its flagship EMEA customer, partner and developer event in Amsterdam, attracting 16,000 people from 99 countries, Cisco has unveiled a series of products and services enriched by business context that it said will ensure business transformation as chief information officers and tech leaders’ jobs change dramatically.

Opening Cisco Live! EMEA 2024, regional president Oliver Tuszik assured that the company’s new technology would be more secure, more integrated, more secure integrated and more artificial intelligence (AI)-powered than ever before, to address what he said were the key current challenges facing businesses, namely: how to upgrade infrastructure for the new world; how to stay secure; how to ensure a great experience for users; how to create the best collaboration experience; how to address sustainability targets; and how to take advantage of all of these elements to bring about business transformation.

Yet while acknowledging the potential of AI to propel business outcomes, Jonathan Davidson, executive vice-president and general manager at Cisco Networking, stressed that even in these revolutionary times, there would be no AI without the network. He compared the challenge of the modern networking environment to driving a Formula 1 race car.

“You’re in charge of something revolutionary unless the car is in charge of you,” he said. “More than letting you drive, we are giving you insights to avoid threats or anything that would slow you down. To do this, we are securing networking everywhere for everyone at every scale. Fragmented platforms will converge; ‘swivel’ share operations are thing of the past. Hidden threats are eliminated, and the platform is powered by AI to simplify, secure and scale operations across the entire networking infrastructure.”

Among the tools launched to deliver these goals are offerings for the Cisco Observability Platform. Explaining the reason for the launch in this area, the company noted that applications act as the front door for nearly every business and that delivering a “flawless” application experience was a top priority for IT teams. With that in mind, the products are designed to help customers deliver secure and high-performance user and application experience.

At Cisco Live!, senior vice-president and general manager of App Dynamics and full-stack observability Ronak Desai stressed that digital experience has become a key boardroom metric. He added that companies are increasingly looking to unify and assemble digital experiences significantly reducing the number of monitoring tools in use. Cisco’s approach would be use case-driven, unifying data and reducing friction between data assets, and improving operational efficiency. Desai predicted there would be a number of key use cases where the new usability technology would see use. One would be around SAP monitoring; a second around business risk observability; another digital experience monitoring.

In the new platform, digital experience monitoring (DEM) capabilities have been added for greater visibility and insight into user behaviour. Cisco said application experience expectations are at an all-time high, and technologists can now use the DEM features for both hybrid and cloud environments, with real user monitoring (RUM) and session replay modules for deep insights into browser and mobile applications performance and efficient resolution of session-level issues. In addition, integrations with Cisco ThousandEyes and Accedian empower applications and network are designed to provide businesses with insights into the service delivery required to identify whether the root cause of impacted digital experience is the application, network or cloud infrastructure.

Cisco also offers observability for Kubernetes workloads on the Cisco Observability Platform, using the Linux kernel utility, extended Berkeley Packet Filters (eBPF). Operating at the kernel level is intended to offer access to granular visibility into network activity, resource utilisation, application dependencies and misconfigurations impacting network performance, without the need for multiple tools, cross-team collaboration and manual dependency mapping.

The improvements in unified observability experience across Cisco AppDynamics and the Cisco Observability Platform are designed to offer increased application insights. Using a single account and shared context, the unified observability experience now boasts capabilities such as log analytics, to search with context and improved log storage. Core web vitals provides front-end application owners what are described as the “golden signals” to keep web pages from being de-ranked for poor user experience. Operators can use conversational dialogues instead of a structured query language to perform common tasks during troubleshooting to increase productivity.

“These latest innovations further boost the core capabilities of the Cisco Observability Platform, empowering our customers with better visibility, insights and actions across domains than ever before,” said Desai.

In addition, Cisco also announced Cisco AIOps for Cisco full-stack observability for actionable insights that improve IT operations. The application aims to simplify real-time business health monitoring and significantly reduce noise from events and alerts to automate IT processes and keep operations teams productive and responsive. Built on the Cisco Observability Platform, it supports logs in addition to alerts, events and metrics, and provides dynamic thresholds-based alerting on metrics and events, as well as multiple anomaly-detection approaches.

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