Cisco Live 2017: SDN, Adaptive Automation and Continuous Security

Priyank Savla
By Priyank Savla July 11, 2017 4 minute read
Priyank Savla manages NetBrain's community of over 80,000 network pros. He is passionate about technology, social media, mobile, AR and VR.

Because not everything that happens in Vegas needs to stay there, we’ve recapped some of the highlights from Cisco Live to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

With the introduction of NetBrain Integrated Edition 7.0, Cisco Live 2017 was a monumental show for the NetBrain team. More than 4,000 unique visitors came by our booth to see what’s new and our four featured speaking sessions received resoundingly positive feedback, making the event an unmitigated success.

At the event our team ran three key demos, highlighting partnerships with Cisco and previewing upcoming product releases.

The Map as a Single Pane of Glass – Powered by Adaptive Automation

While we’ve heard from many people that the term single pane of glass is overused in the industry, NetBrain believes a Dynamic Map can finally deliver on the promise, replacing dashboards of information.

Leveraging a rich API framework, NetBrain can ingest data from any third party network management system to overlay key data on the map, in concert with the rich information collected from CLI automation. At Cisco Live we also demoed new capabilities as part of our partnership with Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC). Cisco TAC has digitized their network engineer’s tribal knowledge into thousands of scripts which could be run anytime an issue came up for a customer. For the first time, Cisco has made those scripts available to outside partners, starting with NetBrain.

By leveraging our API integration with Cisco’s knowledge, NetBrain can visually display alerts and issues on a Dynamic Network Map.

An Early Look at NetBrain’s Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Support

SDN was one of the biggest themes at Cisco Live, as at least 50 percent of the people we spoke with were already working in hybrid environments or planning to move that way shortly. Although SDN makes it easier for network teams to deploy new services, it is inherently challenging to operate and manage. As most networks are hybrid networks, engineers need to understand and manage the complexity of both. For example, SDN does not change that troubleshooting needs to be done through the Command-Line Interface (CLI).

SDN Management

As part of our booth at the show, we showcased a sneak peek of NetBrain’s value on Cisco’s SDN solution, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). Cisco ACI uses a centralized controller (called an APIC Controller) to program Cisco’s hardware (e.g. Nexus Switches).

As part of this early look at NetBrain’s SDN support, Dynamic Maps provide a consistent user interface for decoding complex hybrid networks from one view, without the need for CLI. Traffic paths are very complex with SDN and NetBrain can help engineers visualize the flow of traffic from non-SDN to SDN networks. This end-to-end visibility in an SDN network is only possible through Dynamic Maps and helps simplify increasingly complex networks.

Continuous Security and Splunk Integration

Our third major demo at the show focused on continuous network security showcasing our integration with Splunk to isolate and mitigate a DoS attack.

In the demo scenario (outlined below), an ICMP attack is detected by an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) which generates an SNMP trap to Splunk. Splunk triggers an API call to NetBrain, which allows NetBrain to calculate the path between the attacker and the victim’s IP address and automatically provide the URL with the network map and the runbook analysis. This triggered network security helps organizations immediately address potential attacks without the need to wait for a tactical response. This demo also showcased how automation can be leveraged by Security teams to validate network hardening.

Continuous Netrwork Secuirty

We were thrilled to demo these three use cases at Cisco Live and the feedback from our customers was extremely positive. One thing we heard is that the pressure that network teams are feeling from the top is being alleviated by the NetBrain platform as it acts as a single pane of glass for data visualization and analysis.

As Network Architect Steve DiNenna noted in one of our Facebook Live interviews at the show: “It’s no secret that executives are trying to get more hours out of us than we’re capable of producing, and [NetBrain] alleviates a lot of workload from the network engineers. Our ability to produce data quickly from NetBrain really helps our ability to defend the network.”

For more information about what happened at Cisco Live, check out the customer interviews on our Facebook page, and our upcoming blog series recapping key talks and customer use cases from the event.