Published: June 26th, 2017

LAS VEGAS – The Internet has changed everything since its inception, from making it easier to access to information to expanding digital opportunity to everyone across the globe.

IT networks, while often taken for granted, have always played a key role in this digitization, and while many predicted its position would decline in an era progressively adopting mobility, cloud, and connectivity technology, that’s not the case, according to Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins.

Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco, speaking at Cisco Live in Las Vegas.

Speaking to an audience 28,000 strong at its annual Cisco Live event, this year held in Las Vegas from June 26 to 28, Robbins explains that with our world increasingly moving towards “an unbelievable massive expansion of distributed connected devices,” networks will continue to be at the heart of it all.

“This year, there are about 8.4 billion connected devices in use [Gartner data], and by 2020, its expected that one million connections will be added every hour, and we need to make sure that we can handle that,” he tells the crowd. “This is the future; every organization will want to move with great speed to take advantage of these connections, so we need to scale up our networks like we’ve never been done before.”

He adds that in order for that to happen, the scale up process needs to be simplified.

“Complexity is the enemy of everything because right now, its all about how fast can we connect, how fast can we get there, how fast can we maintain it, etc. We need to simplify the network so we can move as fast as technology is being developed,” Robbins continues.

As a result, Cisco recently rolled out a new intelligent network that recognizes intent and learns from the actions of its users. The company dubs the innovative platform, built on three products – DNA Center, a new Catalyst 9000 Series, and the Encrypt Traffic Tool – as “the network of the future.”

“The first thing we did was reinvent networking so our customers can run their digital business of the future. This intuitive network is informed by context and is the beginning of our journey to change everything,” he says.

From left to right: Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of IoT and applications group; David Goeckeler, senior vice president of networking and security; and Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco.

Over time, the new network adapts itself to what a customer is trying to do based on context. For example, if someone indicates they’re in the healthcare industry in the network’s DNA Centre, it will learn that and help them solve problems specifically in a healthcare context, Robbins explains.

This network is for anyone building an IP network, adds David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager of networking and security, from large corporations to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs).

It is Internet of Things (IoT)-ready, as well as wired and wireless, and cloud-enabled.

How to be secure in an increasingly connected world

But as billions of devices are connected, the threat risk also expands, Robbins adds. He says that if an organization’s security strategy doesn’t have networking at the heart of it, “it’s not a complete security strategy.”

The new intuitive network has security built right into it, which can be automatically deployed at scale.

“We built security deep into the platform because the network is how these connections are formed – you need to be secure from the get-go,” Robbins emphasizes.

The platform boasts an encrypted analytics feature that the CEO calls “revolutionary.” It determines when there’s malware in encrypted Internet traffic without ever having to decrypt it using Cisco’s decades of threat research and intelligence into the traffic patterns of malware activity.

“There’s been a big debate in the tech industry, and really amongst general consumers as well, on how to balance privacy with security,” Goeckeler says. “So that was the first question we asked ourselves – how do we find malware and keep our customers secure without breaching privacy? Well, this encrypted traffic tool has 99.95% efficacy without needing to decrypt anything, so we hope this balances the need for security with our customer’s privacy requirements.”

He calls the new network “the most significant solution Cisco has brought to the enterprise in a very long time,” and firmly believes that the company is in a position to solve any future business needs.