While Todd Nightingale has been Cisco\u2019s Enterprise Networking & Cloud business chief since March, some of the directions he wants to take the company\u2019s biggest business unit\u2014namely superior cloud-neutral orchestration and automation\u2014are already evident.\nThe COVID-19 pandemic and the enterprise response to it are big drivers for near-future enterprise networking technology. But the ideas of cloud\u00a0 connectivity and pushing simplicity and agility in the network, while they are already important, implementation has accelerated for most customers, Nightingale said in a recent interview.\n\u201cIT shops around the world have been refocused, and the real need for agility across different technologies is what\u2019s driving our future developments,\u201d Nightingale said. \u201cThe idea going forward is to focus on delivering powerful networking and software options on a smaller number of integrated platforms to simplify and bring an enormous amount of agility for enterprise customers.\u201d\n\nA couple of models of what Nightingale has in mind have already been rolled out.\u00a0\nFor one, in October Cisco upgraded and integrated some of its core software packages to help customers manage, control and automate functions in hybrid and multicloud data-center environments. One of the new tools, Cisco\u2019s Nexus Dashboard, melds a number of Cisco\u2019s management tools into a single interface to manage application lifecycles from set-up to maintenance and optimization. In this case, by supporting Cisco\u2019s Multi-Site Orchestrator, which provisions, \u00a0monitors, and manages resources in Cisco ACI networks, the dashboard can set network and application-control policies across on-premises or cloud-based business environments, Cisco says.\nThe Nexus Dashboard also integrates with third-party services such as ServiceNow for incident management, AlgoSec for security policy, Splunk for business intelligence and F5\/Citrix for load balancing. Additional third-party integrations are expected, Cisco stated. The system also supports open-source software including Red Hat Ansible for building and deploying enterprise automation and Hashicorp\u2019s Terraform infrastructure management software.\nAnother example is the Cisco SecureX platform, announced this summer, which is an open, cloud-native system that integrates Cisco security wares and third-party tools to let IT security teams automate security management across enterprise cloud, network, applications and end points from a single interface. Cisco has engineered tighter integration between SecureX and its Secure Cloud Analytics program so that SecOps teams can monitor for behavior that may be indicative of threats or misconfigurations in the cloud.\nCisco also says it will extend SecureX to include support for Extended Detection and Response (XDR), which offers a unified approach to security-incident detection and response that can let customers correlate threat intelligence and signals across multiple security offerings.\nNightingale pointed to another product, Cisco\u2019s Intersight, the company\u2019s cloud-based systems-management offering, as an example of a platform that will see continued integration to help customers orchestrate multicloud workloads going forward. \u00a0\u00a0\nCisco recently bolstered Intersight with the ability to manage Kubernetes containers. The idea is with Intersight Kubernetes Service, infrastructure teams can automate the lifecycle management of Kubernetes and containerized applications across any environment\n\u201cCloud-neutral automation and orchestration are our ultimate goals,\u201d Nightingale said.\u00a0 \u201cThere is a serious transition going on now around where workloads are deployed and orchestrated between private and public clouds. Now workloads are becoming more containerized and customers are deploying a variety of services and providers to handle them. We can provide the cloud-neutral orchestration and networking to make that all work smoothly,\u201d Nightingale said.\nPart of that goal is enabled through Cisco\u2019s AppDynamics and recently purchased ThousandEyes technology. AppDynamics is Cisco\u2019s application-performance management system that lets users administer app performance and availability across cloud and data-center environments. ThousandEyes brings a cloud-based software package that analyzes performance of local and wide-area networks and the internet.\u00a0\n\u201cThe ThousandEyes and AppDynamics combination gives customers end-to-end visibility and management capabilities regardless of where workloads are located which will become more important as applications and workloads are distributed,\u201d Nightingale said.\nHand-in-hand with the networking and application changes cloud is bringing, is the transformation of traditional wide area networking, Nightingale said.\n\u201cThe WAN was built years ago to secure site-to-site capabilities, but that is no longer the core use case today,\u201d Nightingale said. \u201cSD-WAN and SASE technologies are driving current WAN directions, and there are a whole slew of partners out there adding security features to our substantial portfolio to give customers a full secure experience.\u201d\nCore to Cisco\u2019s WAN future is its Cloud OnRamp product that connects remote users at branch offices or other remote locations to cloud applications. OnRamp also supports connectivity to a number of cloud resources in AWS and Microsoft Azure.\u00a0 SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp is part of Cisco\u2019s overarching SD-WAN software package, and the company recently upgraded OnRamp to help customers tie distributed cloud applications back to a branch office or private data center.\n"Helping deliver and manage applications across the WAN in new secure integrated ways is the next gear for us," Nightingale said. "Whether users are working from home, or are mobile it doesn\u2019t matter we want to give them one enterprise cloud on ramp experience that is easy to consume."