Cisco brings intent-based networking to the IoT
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Cisco brings intent-based networking to the IoT

Networking giant Cisco is bringing its intent-based networking concept to the Internet of Things (IoT), in a bid to help companies gain better control over IoT devices and services – and their own assets.

The company said that the concept, announced in June 2017, could be used by businesses to help make the transition to extended, IoT-heavy enterprise networks easier.

It would do this in three key ways.

Three routes to insightful IoT

The first is to tackle what the networking giant deems to be the biggest barrier to IoT adoption: providing greater visibility and insight into the IoT estate on enterprise networks.

Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) could already be used to recognise devices as they connect, with information such as manufacturer name, model number, and software type installed. It controls access across wired, wireless, and VPN connections to the corporate network, and feeds back into Cisco’s network automation software DNA Center with user and device details.

Now, Cisco has upgraded ISE and doubled the number of IoT device and user device groups that can be automatically classified and identified, including devices that use a range of industrial protocols, such as BACNet, Profinet, CIP, and Modbus.

“With ISE 2.4 we have added 620 new profiles that can now be populated in ISE,” said Prashanth Shenoy, VP of enterprise network marketing at Cisco. “With this increased support, customers can set policies for IoT devices, segment IoT devices, and control access from one location.”

In Cisco’s second intent-based move, the company is expanding its DNA Center provisioning package to support IoT devices.

Its SD-Access software was launched last June to help network administrators automate access configuration and management, to cope with the large number of devices coming online. It has now extended the benefits of this feature to the likes of distribution centres, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and outdoor environments, such as roadways and oil rigs.

The latest DNA Center release supports industrial ethernet switches, compact switches, and digital building switches, enabling IT departments to extend network policies across outdoor and other ‘non carpeted’ spaces.

SD-Access Extension for IoT and SD-Access for Distributed Campus are expected to be available in Q3, with general availability set for Q4.

Finally, the company’s new Operational Insights cloud-based management service will be able to use data gathered from IoT devices to notify personnel automatically to take actions at specific times, based on location and sensor data.

Cisco suggested two examples of the technology’s real-world use. In healthcare, if a piece of equipment needs to be located in real time, then Operational Insights could determine where it is, while retailers could access the purchase history of a high-value item being returned to them to ensure that it was actually purchased from the same company.

Internet of Business says

Cisco believes that with these upgraded, intent-based capabilities, organisations will be able to manage connected devices in a different, smarter way to the traditional, port-based, rules-heavy schemes that network managers are accustomed to.

The moves are part of a wider engagement with IoT programmes worldwide for the networking hardware and software giant. Its deep involvement with aspects such as speed, low cost, reliability, transparency, and security will be critical to the IoT’s success, in the data centre, the distributed core, and the dynamic edge environment – and at all points in between.