A fully automated self-healing network requires a closed loop that is defined and controlled by feedback. To achieve true Intent-Based Networking (IBN), information going in and out of the network must be monitored to observe all activity, respond to data, and make decisions based on the insights gained.
Intent-Based Networking performs tasks based on rules and policies. It responds to events, and verifies that goals and actions are achieved, by monitoring, identifying, and reacting in real-time to changing network conditions. This automated feedback loop has checks and verifications for IT to identify, adjust and fix anomalies while leveraging technologies like AI and machine learning to continually improve results.
An automated closed-loop network requires the following capabilities:
Action – Setting up configurations to automate operational processes, providing programmatic control of infrastructure, and reducing latency within end-to-end workflows.
Visibility – Establishing truth concerning activity within the network, with a data view of the current state of devices, and verification of the customer experience.
Insights – Applying analytics to gathered data by analysis and correlation, identifying trends and patterns for planning, and problem resolution.
This closed-loop network, with action, visibility, and insights, enables full network automation, from configuration and monitoring to analysis and response. The complete process is important for a reliable, robust, and self-healing network.
Network automation identifies a problem and its cause, fixes it, and validates the repair. A key network metric is Mean Time to Repair or MTTR. There are four network meantime elements, or times between repair stages, that make up the total MTTR. They include Meantime to Identify (MTTI), Meantime to Know (MTTK), Meantime to Fix (MTTF), and Meantime to Validate (MTTV). Compressing these four stages is critical for a reliable automated closed-loop network.
How to implement an automated closed-loop network
Networks are complex and often unpredictable. Routing events caused by automated systems, malicious attacks, and operational errors can have a devastating impact on network services. Network operators need a scalable and insightful toolset to help them quickly identify, respond, and fix root-cause network issues.
There are two approaches for Communication Service Providers, or CSPs, to accomplish an automated closed-loop network. They can integrate a custom solution from scratch, with different vendor components and products, each with disparate logins, languages, protocols, alerts, and dashboards to manage and maintain. Alternatively, they can implement a solution that is network hardware and software agnostic, from a single vendor that has a fully integrated suite, with everything visible and managed through a single pane of glass.
Network operational performance data is plentiful, but many toolsets simply don’t have a comprehensive and coalesced understanding of the network control state and routing protocol event data. When data is not organized, analyzed, and displayed logically, it becomes difficult to comprehend. This is where an integrated closed-loop solution that automates real-time feedback is required.
Cisco has the answer, in an integrated solution with full network programmability and automation. Cisco’s Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group supplies silicon, optics, hardware, software, and system innovations for the largest and most advanced networks in the world. The technologies for an integrated closed-loop network within this group include Crosswork, Network Services Orchestrator (NSO), NETCONF, YANG, and ConfD.
Crosswork’s low or no-touch operations support multi-vendor and multi-domain infrastructure, centered on programmatic infrastructure control and access to operational and state data, all within a single pane of glass.
Crosswork is the foundation for multi-vendor integration that leverages access and security policies for network traffic as it negotiates different domains. It brings all of the pieces together, and manages them through orchestration, spanning multi-cloud and on-premises tooling for full-service lifecycle operations. Crosswork enables a closed operational loop that facilitates planning and design, implementation, and ongoing monitoring and assurance.
Closed-loop network automation improves business outcomes
Crosswork accelerates network automation so businesses can move more quickly. The analytics and operational agility allow CSPs to spot trends and respond quickly, and services can be deployed with a lean cost structure for greater pricing power and improved profitability. The increased speed and accuracy of service turn-up improve the customer experience and stickiness, as do the tools that help reduce or eliminate service disruption.
Companies that have deployed Crosswork have realized measurable benefits, including 60% improved capital efficiency, 66% better-operating expense utilization, and 81% reduction in time to deploy a service. This is real-world proof of the benefits of automation.
Cisco Crosswork has nine components that automate a closed-loop system with action, visibility, and insights, all presented through a single pane of glass. APIs enable further extensibility to other systems and resources. Additionally, a team of highly skilled service representatives is available to help achieve any type of customized implementation.
Click here to learn more about Cisco Crosswork.