Cisco Networking Cloud gets more Digital Experience Assurance: what’s that?

Cisco Networking Cloud gets more Digital Experience Assurance: what’s that?

Cisco today announced that its Networking Cloud – one of the company’s four pillars, alongside Security Cloud, Full-stack Observability/Observability Cloud and Collaboration – is getting new features. Thanks to clever integration with Cisco ThousandEyes, it can now offer even more Digital Experience Assurance to users. But what is that exactly? We dive a bit deeper into it in this article.

The Networking Cloud announcement was the biggest from last year’s Cisco Live, as far as we’re concerned. If you want to know exactly what the Networking Cloud entails, be sure to re-read our article about it from a year ago. The bottom line is pretty clear. The new strategy toward a single Networking Cloud should lead to more simplicity, more monitoring and more integration with other parts of the Cisco and beyond.

The goal of the Networking Cloud is not just to make the life of the network administrator and IT in general more enjoyable. Ultimately, it should also benefit network users. In other words, the digital experience must get better. Consequently, Digital Experience is getting more and more attention. From companies that specialize in it from the endpoint perspective like ControlUp, but now also from the biggest player in enterprise networking.

ThousandEyes and the Networking Cloud

Cisco today introduced enhanced capabilities to Digital Experience Assurance. This is actually not a new feature of the Networking Cloud, but of ThousandEyes. It enables proactive management of end users’ digital experience. In doing so, it ties together insights from its own network and beyond. According to Cisco, this is critical as Digital Experience becomes increasingly important. At Cisco Live in Amsterdam earlier this year, the company even called it a topic high on the list in boardrooms. It is becoming an important KPI, is Cisco’s belief. It plays an important role for a brand’s reputation in the marketplace. Furthermore, a good digital experience has a positive impact on employee productivity.

With ThousandEyes, Cisco has an obvious solution to monitor the digital experience and intervene proactively. ThousandEyes collects billions of data points and measurements daily from customer networks and beyond. These include the Meraki and Catalyst platforms, but certainly also the WAN environments that organizations use. Of course, AI plays an important role in determining any issues and solutions to them.

Components of Digital Experience Assurance

ThousandEyes Digital Experience Assurance currently already offers the necessary capabilities within Cisco’s networking portfolio. For example, it does radio resource management for access points in the Catalyst line. Furthermore, it takes care of capacity planning for Catalyst SD-WAN (formerly Viptella). It also helps identify and profile devices based on AI-based signatures within the Cisco Identity Services Engine. Added to that, as of today (among others) are the following components:

  • ThousandEyes Cloud Insights: with this, ThousandEyes maps the topology of AWS environments. This includes the connections of the services that organizations use. It also tracks changes in configurations and specific characteristics of traffic to, from and within the cloud environment.
  • ThousandEyes Traffic Insights: this is not about insights into cloud environments, but rather deeper insights into on-prem infrastructure. It does this by correlating how network traffic moves through the infrastructure with synthetic (i.e., not real-life) measurements from ThousandEyes itself. This makes it possible to quickly link any performance issues to actual bottlenecks and strange behavior in and of the environment. By linking external and internal insights together, organizations get the most complete picture possible.
  • ThousandEyes Endpoint Experience will now also receive WiFi and LAN telemetry from the Meraki platform.

All in all, with today’s announcement, Cisco again greatly expands the insights into both organizations’ own networks and environments outside its own organization. However, there are still a few steps to take to make everything truly insightful. For example, other public cloud environments need to be added. However, it is definitely another big step forward. Where previously only Catalyst equipment was involved, telemetry from Meraki equipment has now been added to certain aspects of the offering. While this is a fairly logical step, given the ambition to merge the two platforms, it still needs to be set, of course. That’s what Cisco is doing today.

Digital Experience Assurance will, with today’s announcements, be able to make employees’ digital experience a little better. They will still regularly blame the network when something doesn’t work. That’s not going to change anytime soon. However, it will become a little easier to prove that this is not the case or – if the network is to blame – to find out exactly where it went wrong. This in turn allows organizations to resolve any problems a little faster. That, too, makes for a better digital experience.