NEW YORK—Cisco Systems has aggressively expanded its IT solutions capabilities over the past several years, building on its expertise in network switches and routers to extend its reach into all parts of the data center.
The tech vendor has rolled out products including the Unified Computing System (UCS) for IT infrastructure and the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Nexus 3000 and 9000 switches to address network virtualization. It also has bought dozens of companies to bolster its capabilities in everything from security and the cloud to the Internet of things (IoT) and enterprise software.
At an event here June 15, CEO Chuck Robbins and other Cisco executives introduced a data analytics platform that they said will enable businesses to monitor every part of their data centers, giving them unheard-of visibility and insights into everything from the systems themselves to the applications that run on them.
Cisco's Tetration Analytics platform will enable customers to see in every packet traversing their networks and data from every sensor throughout the data, and will be able to collect the massive amounts of data generated and analyze it in real time to deliver actionable insights. In addition, it can give customers a historic view of what has occurred in the data center, let them see what is going on in real time and enable them to model what can occur in the future.
Right now, there are products from other vendors that enable organizations to do some of these tasks, Robbins said. However, "I contend that there is no solution out there that can do 100 percent of the data center, at wire speed, at scale," he said during the event, held at the One World Trade Center building.
Frank Palumbo, senior vice president of worldwide data center sales at Cisco, called Tetration "a time machine for the data center. Not part of the data center or 60 percent of the data center—we're talking all of the data center."
Like other enterprise IT vendors, Cisco is developing analytics tools that can help customers gain control of the massive amounts of data being generated by such trends as IoT and the cloud. Cisco officials predict that the number of connected devices worldwide will grow to more than 50 billion in 2020 from 25 billion in 2014, and that those devices, sensors and systems will help drive generate zettabytes of data—much of which would be useless unless it can be collected, stored and analyzed. In addition, increasing numbers of enterprise applications are running the cloud, putting more pressure on organizations to better monitor and manage them.
Cisco, with its deep legacy in networking, is in a good position to bring such analytics capabilities to businesses, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research. The network has become a foundation of the continuing digitization of the enterprise, Kerravala told eWEEK.
"In a way, IT has come to the network," he said. "We live in a world where everything is connected."
Businesses increasingly are having a difficult time managing their environments due in large part to the lack of visibility into them, Kerravala said. Data centers have become extremely complex, and enterprises are spending as much as 83 percent of their IT dollars just keeping them up and running. In addition, three-quarters of application performance problems are detected by end users rather than the IT staff. All of these factors highlight the need for organizations to get a better handle on what is going on inside their data center.
"You can't manage what you can't see," he said. "Visibility is really key to that."