5 Things Partners Should Know About Cisco's New Crosswork Network Automation Portfolio

The networking giant says its channel partners have a big opportunity to profit from the tremendous amount of integration required for customers to bring the Crosswork Network Automation portfolio into their environments.

Automatic For Providers

Cisco Systems this week unveiled a portfolio of network automation software intended to hasten time to value for service providers and cut down on the time it takes to fix network problems.

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Called Crosswork Network Automation, the portfolio combines five software platforms with the aim of helping service providers automate their networks while managing and understanding the vast amounts of data in order to respond to common problems and impending security threats.

The portfolio also is intended to help network migrations take less time and become less error-prone. It's Cisco's first closed-loop, mass-scale automation solution that embraces multivendor networks. The system runs on open APIs, and features a WAN automation engine, data consolidation in data lakes, and uses machine learning to take the human element out of the equation.

The San Jose, Calif., networking giant said its channel partners have a big opportunity to profit from the tremendous amount of integration required for customers to bring the new platform into their environments. Partners, the company said, will be able to help service providers solve specific problems rapidly with either their own services, or Cisco's suite of services.

Here are five things solution providers should know about Crosswork Network Automation.

How Partners Can Help

Network automation is new to many customers, and Cisco is hoping its partners can put those customers on the path to automation. The company has seen a significant uptick in the number of partners helping customers transform their networks over the past year as customers confront the continuing growth in bandwidth requirements and the flood of new devices and services hitting the environment. Now, partners have not just a product to sell, but a portfolio of services they can sell on top of those products to confront customers' biggest concerns.

Zero Touch

The new portfolio is geared toward making the network a simple place with a single point of integration, zero-touch telemetry, machine-learning intuition, open APIs and automated actions. The result is a simpler experience for service providers, and it's backed by Cisco Services, which can handle planning, customization and implementation, the company said.

In The Box

Crosswork Network Automation includes five software platforms: change automation; health insights; data platform; network insights; and situation manager. Change automation lends closed-loop control to automated, large-scale changes. Health insights uses smart sensors and alerts to monitor and optimize networks. Data platform combines open-source and commercial data analytics into a single platform. Network insights is a cloud-based analytics solution for solving large-scale routing problems. And situation manager is a machine-learning-based event correlation system.

The Challenge

Among the networking difficulties Crosswork Network Automation is trying to overcome is the fact that human-driven network changes are error-prone, time-consuming and difficult to validate comprehensively. The system also tackles the fact that data silos make network data almost impossible to analyze. The system's data platform and health insights systems are intended to prevent customer experience from suffering when variations in network quality go unnoticed. Using artificial intelligence, the system's situation manager seeks to cut down on the time needed to identify network problems.

Solving Problems As They Happen

Crosswork Network Automation's change automation software is intended to turn network remediation from a slow, manual process to an analytics-fueled automatic process that solves problems as they happen. The network insights system enables a cloud-first approach to solving routing problems while avoiding errors that can cause "dramatic outages," Cisco said. Cisco's WAN Automation Engine and XR Traffic Controller have the ability to use telemetry and analytics to improve network performance in real time without human intervention.