What Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture Can Do for Modern Networks?

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Preface: Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) Enterprise Networks Architecture provides open APIs and programmability to make your networks more agile, high-performance, and application-centric. Explore the entire Cisco Enterprise Networks portfolio—from the next-generation Catalyst 6800 Switches, Catalyst Instant Access solution, Unified Access on Catalyst 4500 Switches with Supervisor 8-E and Catalyst 2960-X Switches, to the innovative ISR 4451-AX and ASR 1000-AX routers with services on demand.ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture Sum

Cisco introduced our new vision for enterprise-wide network architecture based on the Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) framework.

This approach is not a radical departure from traditional networks, but a transformative architecture that brings unprecedented openness and programmability to enterprise-wide networks (not just data centers) to be ready for the Internet of Everything.  It transforms networks making them more agile, high-performing and application-centric, while making the best use of existing network resources (brownfield deployments).

The need for this architecture is predicated upon the increasing number of applications, the complexity of deploying them, and the fast changing business environments that they need to support. These environments include multiple mobile devices users are bringing into the network as well as the sensors and other connected devices we expect will make up the 50 billion networked devices Cisco and GE have predicted for 2020. They also include new cloud-based application deployment models. This complexity is impacting the networks that need to serve these environments.

Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) is a comprehensive solution to help networks become more open, programmable, and application-aware. The broad capabilities of Cisco ONE help meet the needs of numerous market segments, including emerging concepts such as software-defined networking (SDN).


Why It Matters

With the Cisco ONE approach, enterprises and service providers can:

  • Simplify operations and reduce TCO by extending the capabilities of a proven infrastructure
  • Deliver advanced applications and services for physical, virtual, and cloud environments with a fully integrated framework
  • Make the network more agile and application-centric


Cisco ONE creates a dynamic feedback loop that gathers network intelligence and programs individual network layers to optimize user experiences. You can tailor the solution for any number of individual applications.

More Backgrounds you can understand the Cisco ONE better.

Four years ago, we introduced the new Integrated Services Routers, Generation 2 Series–ISR G2–and with it, the Borderless Networks architecture.  In 2009, there were about 6B devices connected to networks worldwide. Now there are around 10B devices and this is predicted to reach 50B devices by 2020.

The Borderless Networks architecture enables organizations around the world to connect anyone, anywhere, using any device — securely, reliably and seamlessly. Its vision was to enable organizations to use single management and policy across the entire network infrastructure, and it delivered on its promise with Identity Services Engine (ISE) that provided one policy across the entire network, and Cisco PRIME – one network management solution for wired and wireless networks. The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture is the evolution of our Borderless Networks architecture, adding openness, programmability and network-wide control services such as location- based capabilities.  Through this architectural evolution, we are helping our customers realize new business opportunities created by the exponential growth in connected devices and the easy access to cloud services.

The network is becoming an enabler of business transformation and IT organizations have to evolve the way they build and support these networks, as well as take a bigger role in business decisions.  The Cisco Global IT Impact Survey released at Interop Las Vegas 2013, surveyed 1300 IT professionals in 13 countries around the world and revealed that the number of business applications deployed is at an all-time high, but the majority of IT organizations are not always involved in the deployment of applications. As a result, the end-users’ applications experience is not optimal.  The survey also revealed that 78% of IT professionals–both network and applications IT people, believe that the network is the most critical element in delivering the expected application performance and user experience, but IT is still struggling to support the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) users and cloud deployments necessary to deliver a high quality user experience.

The Internet of Everything and Business Impact

Network infrastructures have traditionally been built using purpose-built components and solutions. These components and solutions were optimized for their intended performance – such as speed, bandwidth, handling threats, or enabling services – and were effective at providing the connectivity and network services necessary to run the business.

Today, however, with the emergence of the Internet of Everything (IoE) there is a huge projected increase in the number of devices, clouds, and things that will be connecting to the network. For example, the Cisco VNI forecast predicts that by the end of 2013 the number of mobile connected devices alone will surpass the human population, and that number is predicted to grow to 10 billion mobile-connected devices by 2017.  Cisco also predicts that the currently 10B internet-connected devices (overall) will increase to 50B devices by 2020. While not all of these devices will run on enterprise networks, the rate of growth of the data traffic generated hints at the potential scaling necessary within the enterprise network infrastructure to capture the new business opportunities that now become possible.

The enormity of this challenge is evident when you add in the infrastructure required to enable these devices, and the services and business-critical applications needed to enable various user experiences and business opportunities.

If enterprises hope to overcome the impending complexity and drive business growth, they need to start simplifying their network infrastructure now. The delivery and orchestration of network services has to work at a larger scale and still be simplified enough for enterprises to rapidly deploy.   The traditional rollout of enterprise applications needs to change significantly to respond rapidly to capture the new business opportunities enabled by the Internet of Everything.

The Need for IT Business Strategy and Simplification

Business leaders are coming up with extremely creative ways to capitalize on our connected way of living, defining new creative business opportunities that rely on their customers’ mobile devices and the various forms of cloud services. However, this flood of new initiatives is overwhelming many IT organizations, as evidenced by the Cisco Global IT Impact Survey, are not being included in applications deployments until the last minute. Line of business owners expect these new applications to simply “just work”, putting tremendous pressure on the network to be agile enough to keep up with the rapid pace of business growth.

As a result, savvy business leaders and enterprise wide IT organizations are frequently at odds.  To give just one example of this, when considering the rollout of business critical applications, 76% of IT professionals interviewed in the Cisco Global IT Impact Survey noted that others in their organization –business leaders or non-IT teams – have rolled out applications without their knowledge.  Similarly, 38% said they’d been brought into the application deployment either the day before or even during rollout.

Connecting people and devices is the first step in realizing new business growth; however, the focus is now shifting toward enabling a network infrastructure that can rapidly deploy services and applications. The growing complexity is challenging the way IT is approaching the provisioning of network infrastructure. The current way of operating the enterprise network infrastructure on a device by device basis needs to scale. IT has to change to a more automated provisioning model that looks at the entire network as single entity and rapidly respond to diverse new growth opportunities in the era of IoE.

Transforming Enterprise Networks, Again

To enable organizations to be agile in capturing new business opportunities enabled by the Internet of Everything, the network infrastructure must evolve. A new architecture for automated provisioning and rapid deployment of network services and applications is necessary.  Building on the Borderless Networks Architecture Cisco introduced the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture. This architecture brings unprecedented openness and programmability to enterprise networks through open APIs. Even though this sounds a lot like SDN, and it utilizes some of the key concepts, it goes beyond SDN by offering a much wider and larger scale approach to network programmability for enterprise-wide networks. These open APIs enable a rich ecosystem of application and services that can be created and rapidly provisioned allowing enterprises to respond quickly and capture the new business opportunities made possible by the IoE.

Cisco One Enterprise Networks ArchitectureChanger

  • Network Element Layer:  The Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture is built upon a foundation of distributed intelligent and programmable network devices. As explained above, the case for an intelligent network device is strong for WAN and ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture comprises of intelligent network devices at the device layer.
  • Control Layer: This is not a centralized controller function as defined by SDN. This is more of a control layer that offers the following:
    • Automated Provisioning: With automated configuration of network devices, the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture delivers speed and ease of provisioning across the entire Enterprise network. This eliminates the per-device provisioning and vastly improves the speed and accuracy of adding new services consistently across the network.
    • Analytics: The Control Layer also offers advanced analytics across the entire Enterprise network, LANs and WAN. The real-time analytics data is available for any applications to use as well as for IT to monitor and diagnose any network issues.
  • Network-Aware Application Layer: Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture enables applications and services to be network-aware by abstracting away the network in the Control Layer and making advanced network analytics available to the applications. Applications and services can now be smart about the network conditions and deliver an optimal user experience, securely, while simplifying IT operations.

This new architecture with open APIs and programmability is based on 28 years of Cisco’s networking DNA. This architecture allows networks and applications to be mutually aware that ensures high performance of applications and services. Enterprise networks can be rapidly provisioned to respond quickly to new business opportunities making IT the catalyst for enabling business growth.

How Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture enhances Enterprise WAN programmability?

  • ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture is a 2-way street
    • Applications and networks are mutually aware in Cisco ONE Architecture which creates a robust ecosystem for resiliency, whereas SDN is a one-way street, with the SDN Controller centrally managing network devices, which does not scale to WAN networks for reasons explained above.
  • ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture scales to WAN networks:
    • SDN Controller architecture is limited in scope to L2 networks in a single data-center whereas the Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture brings programmability to LAN and WAN networks alike.
    • Programmability in WAN networks requires intelligent network devices that have programmatic access but are free to run distributed protocols that make the network much more resilient than with centralized control.
  • ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture Control Layer is simpler and agile:
    • The Control Layer does not have to reinvent complex topology control mechanisms and can easily query and maintain network wide analytics. These analytics are useful to the network-aware application layers.
    • With an SDN Controller over WAN networks, again, one reinvents the broken wheel of centralized end-to-end provisioning similar to legacy ATM circuit-switched networks. The SDN Controller complexity would be hard to manage and deploy.
  • Coordination Costs
    • The suggested ONF SDN architecture implies best of breed solutions for each layer. This can increase coordination costs for enterprises as they have to integrate different vendors’ solutions into a complex WAN network topology and manage network throughput requirements across all the layers. Coordinating the development and rollout of a new application between all 3 layers over the WAN can be very expensive.
    • Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture on the other hand builds upon a foundation of intelligent Cisco network devices with proven data-planes that implement complex distributed protocols. Further, a simpler control layer that allows the ease and speed of provisioning new applications and services that can be provided by 3rd party application developers. This increased business agility and enables enterprises to respond rapidly to new business opportunities.

Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture brings the networks and applications closer together across the entire Enterprise network. It is all about creating a feedback loop between the applications and the network and allowing the applications to control the network at many levels. Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture provides the tools to make the Enterprise network programmable both in data-centers (LANs) and at distributed sites (WANs). This is true and effective openness of enterprise wide networks that increases the speed of the deployments of new services and applications. Through open APIs at each layer and deep access to network resources through programmability, Cisco ONE Enterprise Networks Architecture creates the mutual awareness of networks and applications. This mutual awareness helps enterprises overcome the WAN challenges.

…To be continued…

Cisco ONE resource from 



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