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The WAN Automation Engine is designed to reduce costs and increase agility for service providers.

Cisco Intros Automated WAN Management

Mitch Wagner
5/18/2014
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Cisco today introduced the WAN Automation Engine for improving wide-area networking management, designed to allow service providers to analyze, visualize, and control functions across multi-vendor WANs.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) forecasts mobile data traffic will increase nearly 11-fold over the next four years, putting more pressure on networks. The Internet of Things (which Cisco calls the Internet of Everything) provides business opportunities for service providers, but also requires management tools capable of keeping up with the load.

The WAN Automation Engine is designed to help service providers reduce opex and enable applications to increase revenue. The WAE automates bandwidth scheduling and calendaring, circumvents congested network paths, and delivers bandwidth on demand that can be used and purchased by service provider customers when needed.

"By allowing automation, service providers can move bandwidth on the fly and don't have to wait a lot of time to do calculations," says Sanjeev Mervana, senior marketing director for the Cisco service provider routing and switching group. "It eliminates a lot of manual setup that we have today."

Cisco claims automating these functions can result in more than a 90% return on investment (RoI) during the first year of deployment, and total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction of up to 45%.

WAE is designed to extend MATE, Cisco's network planning, design, and traffic management software, enhancing visibility, reliability, and stability for IP traffic management and control.

MATE is currently deployed by more than 60 global service providers, including XO Communications Inc. , TDS Telecom , WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) and Tencent, according to Cisco. Service providers use MATE to optimize their networks by predicting the effects of traffic demand and to better understand hotspots and chronic congestion.

WAE provides situation-based and predictive analytics, using historical traffic data and anticipated demand for real-time and predictive models. It also provides traffic visualization tools, and control and automated provisioning.

Cisco announced its Evolved Service Platform (ESP) for virtualization and orchestration at Mobile World Congress in February. It comprises: a service broker, which Cisco compares to a storefront, where service providers can highlight services to their customers; an orchestration engine for provisioning compute, storage, network, and various other network services; and a catalog of virtual functions that service providers can use to build apps. The WAN Automation Engine is an additional component of ESP. (See Cisco Cloud DVR Emerges.)

According to Cisco, WAE "mark[s] another key milestone in the company's network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined-networking (SDN) strategy." But that's only because WAE follows the philosophy of locating network intelligence in software rather than hardware -- there is no direct relation to SDN or NFV specifications or standards such as OpenFlow, OpenDaylight, or the work done by ETSI Industry Specification Group for NFV. (See The Three Faces of SDN.)

Cisco is announcing WAE in the run-up to its Cisco Live customer conference in San Francisco this week. On Friday, Cisco introduced tools for integrating its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) virtual networks with physical networks. (See Cisco Integrates Virtual, Physical Networks.)

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.


Want to learn more about SDN and the transport network? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.


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