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Cisco adds predictive analytics to Viptela SD-WAN

Cisco's new cloud-based service, called vAnalytics, helps companies prepare for changes within the Viptela SD-WAN by giving answers to what-if questions.

Cisco has added to its Viptela SD-WAN platform cloud-based analytics that help enterprises determine how changes, such as new offices or applications, would impact bandwidth and network connectivity.

Cisco's vAnalytics, introduced this week, provides network managers with answers to what-if scenarios. Cisco has added the predictive analytics service to Viptela's management console, called vManage, a virtualized appliance that is the central component for configuration management and monitoring of the SD-WAN.

VAnalytics makes recommendations based on the experiences of Cisco customers who have embarked on similar projects with the same SD-WAN infrastructure as the company seeking advice. For example, managers planning the network for a new branch office in San Jose, Calif., could get recommendations on connectivity options and bandwidth based on the applications the office would use, said Kiran Ghodgaonkar, a marketing manager at Cisco. 

VAnalytics also could help a company choose a carrier for the branch office's internet and private connections by producing a list of network providers used by other businesses in the area, Ghodgaonkar said.

Cisco continually aggregates data from Viptela customers to improve the software's analytics. The company shares only anonymous data with customers, according to Cisco.

Reece Ltd.'s use of vAnalytics in the Viptela SD-WAN

Reece Ltd., an Australian supplier of bathroom and plumbing products, is a Cisco customer testing vAnalytics as part of a Viptela SD-WAN rollout across 600 offices in Australia and New Zealand. Reece is roughly halfway through the deployment.

Reece, which Cisco provided as a customer reference, found it needed an SD-WAN to support its migration to online business applications Salesforce, ServiceNow and Workday. With Viptela, Reece could manage as a whole the broadband links added for the new applications and the MPLS links used for the company's private network, said Peter Castle, a senior network engineer at Reece.

Based on tests, vAnalytics could be used for tracking the performance and reliability of cloud-based applications, Castle said. That's because Reece engineers can set thresholds for latency, packet loss, and jitter for the network path an application uses to serve a group of offices.

If the path is underperforming, then an engineer can use vManage to try to locate the problem, Castle said. That could lead to filing a trouble ticket with a carrier or increasing bandwidth.

"Application performance data -- especially when we start transitioning applications to cloud services -- is paramount to being able to report on the state of the network," Castle said.

Cisco's piling of analytics on the Viptela SD-WAN platform addresses corporate hunger for more tools that turn data extracted from the network into useful intelligence, said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass. A recent ESG survey of companies found more than 70% needed more advanced analytics.

"Finding and fixing problems faster is always welcomed in a complex enterprise environment as it will reduce downtime and associated costs, as well as improve user experience," Laliberte said.

Meraki Insight

In other Cisco analytics news, the company introduced a troubleshooting tool for drilling down into problems with software-as-a-service applications accessed through Cisco's cloud-managed Meraki wireless LAN.

The new tool, called Meraki Insight, uses the on-premises Meraki MX security appliance as the "inline sensor" to monitor traffic between a SaaS application and users, said Joe Aronow, a product architect at Cisco's Meraki unit. The data Insight extracts include packet loss and latency, application response times, VPN performance and other metrics.

Insight then analyzes the data and assigns a performance score for SaaS applications. If the rating reflects a problem, then network managers can drill down to see if there's trouble with the LAN, the internet service provider or the application.

Because Insight is part of the general Meraki management console, network operators can use its analysis within the context of analytics provided on switches and Wi-Fi access points, Aronow said.

Cisco plans to make Insight available in the third quarter and sell it under a separate subscription license.

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