Cisco Live 2021: New Webex features, as-a-service offerings, improved security and no passwords

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The company made a slew of announcements at its annual conference this week that will roll out throughout the year.

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At its Cisco Live conference this week, the company announced everything from a redesign of its internet infrastructure to a new network-as-a-service offering. Cisco also made a strong push toward a passwordless future to improve security.

Redesigning internet infrastructure

Cisco announced plans to help communication service providers and web-scale companies strengthen their networks. Building networks to grow and extend the internet to more areas has been a challenging process for network operators, according to the company. Cisco said it designed its Converged SDN Transport, a blueprint designed to help service providers converge multiple networks into a common, cost-efficient and secure infrastructure with enormous scale.

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To further simplify the constructs of the internet, the company rolled out its routed optical networking system, which aims to collapse IP and optical networks. The system uses Acacia’s pluggable coherent optics and has advancements in segment routing, ethernet VPN and new Cisco Crosswork Cloud capabilities. The goal is to give operators the ability to build lean, efficient, easy-to-operate networks capable of supporting the levels of traffic expected with 5G.

Cisco Plus as-a-service strategy unveiled

Cisco also announced its new go-to-market strategy for hardware, software and services, Cisco Plus, which aims to provide simpler consumption and use of the Cisco portfolio. Cisco Plus will offer networking, security, compute, storage, applications and observability systems as-a-service with unified subscriptions that are designed to be easy to consume and simple to use, the company said.

The company’s network-as-a-service cloud model is designed to enable customers to easily operate and maintain the outcomes they expect to get from the network, without owning, building, securing and maintaining their own infrastructure.  Cisco is planning limited release NaaS offerings later this calendar year to unify networking, security and visibility services across access, WAN and cloud domains.

The Cisco Plus Hybrid Cloud offering as-a-service is a flexible consumption model that includes Cisco’s entire data center compute, networking and storage portfolio in addition to third-party storage and software. It bridges on-premises, edge and public cloud, and will be available in mid-2021.

SEE: Future of 5G: Projections, rollouts, use cases, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Software-delivered systems aim to provide greater visibility

Cisco rolled out new software-delivered offerings designed to give tech professionals visibility beyond the corporate network. This is increasingly critical as tech teams accelerate the adoption of SaaS, Internet and cloud software for hybrid work strategies.

Cisco integrated ThousandEyes internet and cloud intelligence software with its switching portfolio and AppDynamics’ dashboard, with the goal of providing full-stack visibility. For the first time, IT will have visibility and actionable insights into external networks and services, as well as within the corporate network, the company said.

Kiss passwords goodbye

Cisco Secure introduced infrastructure-agnostic, passwordless authentication by Duo, enabling users to skip entering a password and securely log into cloud applications via security keys or platform biometrics.

Duo passwordless authentication is part of Cisco’s zero-trust platform, layering device and behavior monitoring controls to further strengthen login security. It will work from any user, any device, to any IT application or environment. It is designed to ensure that enterprises can protect any combination of cloud and on-premises applications without requiring multiple authentication products or leaving critical security gaps.

Duo passwordless authentication is available for public preview this summer with general availability by year’s end, Cisco said.

Expanded SASE architecture

In an effort to simplify networking and security operations, Cisco also unveiled an expanded secure access service edge architecture along with new features in its cloud-native platform, SecureX. The features aim to reduce the time to detect and remediate security threats.

The SASE offering provides the ability to purchase all core components in a single offer with the goal of making an easy transition to a unified subscription service in the future, the company said. The SASE architecture includes networking, remote access, cloud security, zero-trust network access and observability with the goal of delivering secure access to any app over any network or cloud, wherever users are working.

Webex People Insights feature gets smarter

It is no surprise the pandemic is having a profound impact on the way people work. With 58% of office employees anticipating they’ll work eight or more days from home each month, and 98% of meetings expected to include remote participants, a new hybrid way of working is emerging.

To help people manage their time and working relationships, combat burnout and drive more inclusive work experiences, Cisco Webex announced advancements to the People Insights feature. Available through the new Webex platform, and accessible through a personalized and private view, People Insights aims to align with the goals a user sets for their meetings, work-life integration, connections and focus time.

The insights are available from three points of view—personal, team and organizational. All are embedded with privacy and security to ensure this information is only available to the user, Cisco said. People Insights will be rolled out in a phased approach over the coming year, with initial availability to select customers in the U.S. beginning this summer, the company said.

Further, Cisco also announced up to 50% lower cloud pricing costs for Webex desk and room devices.

 

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