Cisco is looking to expand its proprietary network monitoring tools into enterprise-scale management products that can tackle multi-vendor networks, advanced IP applications and business services.
"We have been investing much more heavily in management technologies, through internal developments, OEM agreements and acquisitions," senior vice-president of Cisco's Network Management Technology Group, Cliff Meltzer, said. "We believe we should be providing a robust and broad set of tools that address the network, as well as systems, applications and other elements critical to customers' businesses. We are working on an open, standardised way to help customers see and ensure all those elements interact properly across the infrastructure."
The company has yet to detail specific product plans, and analysts speculate that management is more a long-term strategy. But Cisco confirms it is working to create a virtualised network layer from which network managers could view performance statistics, take action and manage business services. The premise is to develop an overarching technology that wouldn't eliminate current network, systems or application management products, but rather pull and integrate relevant information from them for analysis and problem diagnosis.
The software would be based on open standards to enable integration across vendor gear and network silos such as systems, storage and applications, Meltzer said, and could be configured to automate fixes on intelligent network equipment such as that detailed in Cisco's Intelligent Information Network. The approach is the opposite of that taken by HP and IBM, whose strategies focus on intelligent software automating management on a dumb network.
"The network is the platform for revenue growth and productivity for our customers," Meltzer said. "We believe you have to both have intelligence within the network and the management software to control it."