Cisco has revealed Deakin University as one of the first customers globally for the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA), the networking company’s application of software-defined networking and network functions virtualization for the enterprise, announced at its partner summit in San Diego on 2 March.
According to Cisco, DNA combines network virtualization to decouple hardware from software; automation to speed up application and service rollouts; analytics to provide insights into users, applications, devices and threats; and cloud-based services.
Jeff Reed, vice-president, enterprise infrastructure and solutions at Cisco, said DNA was Cisco’s response to the fundamental shift that the architecture of corporate networks had undergone in recent years and would “drive everything we do at the edge of the network for the next many years.”
“It is taking a set of things we have been working on for a few years now and bringing them into whole architecture,” Reed said.
Specifically, he said the DNA announcement covered three new core product and solution offering a new set of capabilities for the Cisco enterprise controller, enterprise network functions virtualization and the provision of a new mobile experience from the cloud.
“The two things we are bring with DNA is to enable the network to unlock the power of the organisation by taking advantage of technology transformations and bringing them together in a way that is easily consumable by our customers, our partners,” Reed said.
“[We are] creating a new open ecosystem. We are decoupling and virtualising our network operating system iOS from our hardware and allowing that to run anywhere on all sorts of different devices and even decoupling it from the appliance model we deliver today, so you can run it on any piece of x86 hardware.”
He said DNA would create “a huge opportunity for us, for our partners both typical SIs and resellers and third party ISPs to build on top of the automation and analytics layer and deliver a service management capability over the network,” adding: “We will have all the APIs we use for our own applications available to third parties.”
Lynn Warneke director, channels and platforms, at Deakin University, told a press briefing at Cisco Live in Melbourne that the university had an ambitious plan to comprehensively digitise all its campuses as part of its stated goal to be “the premium university in Australia driving the digital frontier.”
Warneke said: “We have over 50,000 students, 40,000 on one of four physical campuses across Victoria and 12-13,000 that study in our cloud campus where they study entirely online. … Every area of Deakin seeks to deliver a personalised experience with premium digital engagement to those students and staff.”
“Our dependency on the network has now progressed to a point of criticality,” said Craig Warren, Deakin’s director of ICT infrastructure services.
“We now have real time needs of the network. With these high end user mobility requirements we need rich contextual information from the network. We are tracking 55,000 students, we are tracking 10,000 staff, we are tracking the four or five devices they have.”
He said the university was now able to automate many network maintenance and configuration tasks that had previously been manual.
“We don’t configure switches any longer, we just plug them in and they self configure. … We have 9000 set top boxes. When we plug them in they go on to the right VLAN, they get the right firmware and they self configure.”
Warneke said that the university was working closely with Cisco on its proximity and location-based services.
“We have leveraged our extensive Cisco Wi-Fi infrastructure and the CMX [Connected Mobile Experiences analytics] platform to identify the position of all connected devices on campus,” he said.
“One of my prototypes was to show all students a heat map of the availability of study spaces in the library. Students are also able to determine very accurately where a member of their study group is on campus.
“We are also trialling proximity aware devices so some of our large digital signs will respond with personalised messages when students are near the screen. … We are working to connect people with content, devices and processes to make our campus truly smart.”
Stuart Corner travelled to Cisco Live as a guest of Cisco.