Whole network monitoring moves to the cloud

All network management in the cloud. At its annual event in mid-June in Las Vegas, Cisco unveiled a series of new SaaS consoles focused on network equipment maintenance. The online interface that was already used to remote control Meraki Wifi stations now also contains Catalyst Ethernet switches. Nexus routers (more precisely, network core switches) take advantage of the Nexus Cloud Console, visually similar to the previous one.

“The pandemic and remote working have made the work of companies significantly more complex. To meet their new expectations, we had to simplify their maintenance tools, that is, to offer similar interfaces to all classes of the network, which could be used from anywhere and which made it possible to monitor all the sites in which they are practiced The company’s business simultaneously, said Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, during his keynote address at Cisco Live.

Historically, Catalyst switches and Nexus routers are managed from the DNA Center, a local console whose intuition is highly questionable according to users. Web interfaces are supposed to be more straightforward: icons represent equipment, there are links drawn between them to understand how they are interconnected and their colors determine the severity of a potential problem.

Catalyst switches in the SaaS console for Meraki . stations

The Catalyst switch models now integrated into the Meraki console are 9200, 9300 and 9500 which run under IOS XE 17; The 9400 and 9600 don’t seem to send compatible metrics, but Cisco reports that the issue will eventually be resolved.

Catalyst switches already benefit from monitoring through their DNA Center Console. The advantage of integrating them into the Meraki Terminals console is to provide them with an API used to interact with third-party web services. In addition to the graphical visualization of the fleet, we are considering ServiceNow Support , log function, configuration backup function. And then, for the price of a local DNA center license, which only sees one-location switches, you have a global perception,” explains Nico Daro, CTO of Meraki Products at Cisco.

“Before, in case of an accident on a switch, you had to report to support. Now, we will notify you of the problem and start the procedure to help you.”

Nico DaroTechnical Director of Meraki Products, Cisco.

According to him, the Meraki console API connects Catalyst switches to an infinite number of services, but that of ticketing for support is a novelty that should appeal to most companies: “Before, in the event of an accident on a switch, you should report About it in order to support. Now, we will notify you of the problem and start the procedure to help you. »

Only downside, Meraki’s SaaS console is read-only as long as the switch can be controlled by DNA Center. In this mode, it is only used to retrieve information from switches to start a third-party process; It is not able to send information to the transformer, usually to reprogram its parameters.

However, it is possible to switch the switch to a mode that can be fully controlled by the Meraki console, which usually allows you to use the online interface to perform firmware updates. But the exact options, in particular configuring virtual VxLANs, are only available on the command line, via the SSH console. This only allows you to control one switch at a time.

“The use case for full control by SaaS console is that of a company that wants to take control from a single window of its entire fleet of switches, see a world map of locations where there are failures and resolve them remotely as the system administrator does for its servers,” argues Nico Daro.

Nexus Cloud, the Nexus Dashboard console for viewing all sites

On the router side, the new Nexus Cloud SaaS console offers the same benefit: the ability to display all Nexus routers for all of your company’s websites in a single window. It’s worth noting that Cisco routers already have a display/console Troubleshooting: Nexus Dashboard. However, this was limited by the routers of the site it was launched from.

All you need to get the Nexus Cloud is to purchase its license. You no longer need to install a virtual machine on every site to monitor local routers. Now you arrive at the portal, and in a few clicks, you are shown the physical equipment running on NX-OS that has already been deployed in Your locations, as well as virtual routers with our SDN ACI,” explains Lucy I, Cisco Data Center Networking Product Manager.

Another advantage of the Internet interface is the applications you add to it. These are the same ones already available for the Nexus Dashboard, but with the latter you had to systematically update them manually, paying attention to any incompatibilities between them. Through the SaaS console, we are updating these The apps are for you and we make sure everything is running smoothly.”

The point is that Nexus Cloud only deals with routing, not security considerations at all. “Incorporating cybersecurity rules is a point under consideration. This will happen in future releases,” she says.

“In future releases, we will integrate self-repair, i.e. automatic repair. »

Lucy EyeData Center Networking Product Manager, Cisco

Additionally, routers can be registered to either the Nexus Cloud or the Nexus Dashboard, but not to both at the same time.

For the rest, Nexus Cloud uses the same graphic symbols as Meraki’s interface: a graphic of the network structure. Here, the diagram is more descriptive, because not only are the links drawn to the user’s workstations, but they also describe the exact nature of the problem, rather than just evaluating its severity.

“Currently, you are using Nexus Cloud to identify a problem and take action yourself. In future releases, we will integrate self-repair, i.e. automatic repair. But this is a point we are very careful about, because many of our customers are government departments or large companies such as banks, where there are Regulations against automated processes. »

Suppose we want to first show them that the system is effective at spotting errors. And when they are satisfied, we will suggest that they activate or deactivate the automation,” says Lucy I.

The Nexus Cloud license is the same as for the Nexus Dashboard, i.e. an Essentials price per site that includes all of the above features and an Advantage price that adds additional functionality, such as setting the cost used per connection.

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