Cisco Launches Breakthrough Analytics Data Center Appliance To 'Accelerate' Customer Adoption Of New Technologies

Cisco is launching an analytics platform that gives channel partners more insight across a customer's entire data center in real time with plans of accelerating the adoption of newer technologies like software-defined networking.

"This will migrate customers into more modern technologies, from those traditional hardware-based systems into the cloud and software-defined networking-based systems," said David Chandler, practice lead for the Enterprise Networking Solutions Group of World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner. "If a customer wants to do a migration from a legacy network into a policy-based ACI network, we would now have the information and the knowledge to go and make that successful."

The Cisco Tetration Analytics platform, which took the networking leader two years to develop, can be installed in any data center with any servers, and with any network switches, according to Yogesh Kaushik, Cisco's senior director of product management.

[Related: Cisco Channel Chief: 'Partners Need To Get Started' On New Software Subscription Model]

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"It's a completely open platform, designed to work with anything the customer is using," said Kaushik, in an interview with CRN. "It's designed to integrate with third-party tools, platforms, some of our own products like Cisco's security portfolio, CliQr, ACI, other SDN controllers -- tools to orchestrate workflows in public clouds like [Amazon Web Services]."

This is in contrast with the approach taken by Hewlett Packard Enterprise with its new converged Internet of Things Edgeline system, which collects data in real time at the edge of the network. HPE executives have characterized the data center IoT model as being flawed because of what they have seen as a lack of ability to collect and act on the data in real time.

According to Cisco, Tetration is designed to give organizations complete visibility across everything in the data center in real time, gathered from hardware and software sensors. It then analyzes the information using machine learning techniques to address critical data center operations -- such as policy compliance and application forensics -- by providing application insights, automated policy recommendations and network flow forensics, the company said.

A single Tetration appliance can monitor up to 1 million unique flows per second and can search billions of events in seconds, the company said.

"It's also designed to be very, very easy to operate. … Everything in this appliance is managed by our software," said Kaushik, adding that Tetration takes only a few hours to deploy. "We've architected it in a way to bring simplicity for our partners. … You don't need an army of data center scientists and big data engineers to actually deploy this platform."

Tetration is a "one-touch" appliance, in which the servers and switches are prewired with the software preinstalled. The first Tetration platform, which will be available for partners to sell in July, will be a full-stack appliance that is deployed on-premise at the customer's data center.

Partners said Tetration allows businesses to enable SDN or more software processes inside their network because of the new visibility and insight being gathered. The platform is providing IT managers with new understanding of the data center that will simplify operational reliability and application migrations to SDN solutions and the cloud, according to Cisco.

"It accelerates the customers' adoptions of these new technologies," said WWT's Chandler, "because this is unparalleled with the amount of metadata you're collecting, ingesting and analyzing for every packet that passes through a part of the network that has a sensor on it."

Solution providers see opportunities for selling Tetration as simply hardware, as well as professional and consulting services to help organizations improve their networks and streamline their businesses processes in order to become faster and more agile.

"The data center is the Crown Jewels of the customer's environment," said Brian Finzen, vice president of networking solutions at San Antonio, Texas-based Sirius Computer Solutions, a Cisco partner ranked No. 27 on the CRN 2016 Solution Provider 500 list. "The traffic flow in and out of that data center is mission-critical, and this should enable customers, for the first time, to be able to have much greater visibility to what is actually taking place in that data center -- and there's a lot of financial assets customers have there. So managing those assets is huge."

Finzen said Cisco is setting up its channel community to provide recurring revenue services around the Internet of Things. "This is a cluster that gathers machine data from sensors, so it is very much an IoT-centric play," he said.

Tetration is part of the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant's pivot toward software, analytics and recurring revenue opportunities for partners, according to Nirav Sheth, senior director for Cisco's Americas Partner Organization. Sheth said all of Cisco's traditional profitability programs, such as VIP, will apply to Tetration.

"Not only is it an opportunity for our partners to attach much more consulting and professional services, but also [to provide] those end-to-end insights to give customers the confidence to move forward with next-generation infrastructure -- whether that's ACI-based, or Nexus 9K standalone or compute upgrades," said Sheth, in an interview with CRN. "This is a huge opportunity for the channel."