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Cisco believes that the network platform is a foundational component of a utility service platform as it is critical to providing intelligent connectivity within and beyond the data center. With the right built-in and external tools, the network is ideally placed to provide a secure, trusted, and robust services platform.

The network is the natural home for management and enforcement of policies relating to risk, performance, and cost. Only the network sees all data, connected resources, and user interactions within and between clouds. The network is thus uniquely positioned to monitor and meter usage and performance of distributed services and infrastructure. An analogy for the network in this context would be the human body's autonomic nervous system (ANS) that acts as a system (functioning largely below the level of consciousness) that controls visceral (inner organ) functions. ANS is usually divided into sensory (afferent) and motor (efferent) subsystems that is analogous to visibility and control capabilities we need from a services platform to derive a desired outcome. Indeed, at the time of this writing, there is a lot of academic research into managing complex network systems, might they be biological, social, or traditional IT networking. Management tools for the data center and wider networks have moved from a user-centric focus (for example, GUI design) to today's process-centric programmatic capabilities. In the future, the focus will most likely shift toward behavioral- and then cognitive-based capabilities.

The network also has a pivotal role to play in promoting resilience and reliability. For example, the network, with its unique end-to-end visibility, helps support dynamic orchestration and redirection of workloads through embedded policy-based control capabilities. The network is inherently aware of the physical location of resources and users. Context-aware services can anticipate the needs of users and deploy resources appropriately, balancing end-user experience, risk management, and the cost of service.

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