01.07.2024

Exploring the AI Frontier: Network and Security Innovations from Ampito Partners

Exploring the AI Frontier: Network and Security Innovations from Ampito Partners

Recently I have attended a series of events hosted by our various vendor partners. Unsurprisingly a common theme at these has been the impact of AI, and particularly generative AI, on the areas of corporate networks and cyber security. Most of the vendors that we work with already have well developed strategies to incorporate AI into their portfolios. While some of the more eye-catching ones are the AI assistants such as Juniper’s Marvis and Cisco’s AI Assistant, there are many ways that Ampito and our partners can help you leverage the possibilities of AI while also protecting your business.

What’s the worst that can happen?

In their ‘AI Readiness Index’, Cisco state that “84% of companies think AI will have a very significant or significant impact on their business.” In their Security predictions for 2024, Splunk predicted that “AI will open a Pandora’s box of escalating privacy and security woes.”

However, there are positives! AI offers the potential for performance enhancements for corporate networks, as AI can analyse data and adjust network resources dynamically. It can also accelerate the drive for automation, including configuration and deployment, whilst improving security and enabling better data-driven decision making.

On the security side, AI can:

  • Enhance threat detection
  • Adapt defences over time as it analyses behaviours and data
  • Automate responses, reducing manual effort and mitigation time.

A new era of collaboration?

In their predictions for 2024, Splunk stated that “Collaboration and integration will become critical for resilience. Until recently, security, IT and engineering went about their business independent of each other in fairly rigid operational silos. Going forward, it will be harder for these teams to do their jobs in separate bubbles.”

This will have major implications for our customers and for us here at Ampito. AI can’t be treated as a point solution – it needs to be considered in the round, as it crosses boundaries within departments and requires Ampito and our vendor partners to engage in an even more consultative way than before.

How are Ampito’s vendor partners leveraging AI?

On the vendor side, we see this convergence of network and security platforms, and we expect to see more customers putting an emphasis on partners like Ampito who can help with this collaborative and cross functional approach.

Juniper Networks have put a lot of emphasis on their AI-Native Networking Platform, which is designed to fully integrate AI into a customer’s network operations and use AI to make network connections more reliable, secure and measurable. At Ampito, we see AI Operations as a key area of interest for our network customers, and we ran a fun campaign based around this earlier this year. Feel free to check out AMPITO JUNIPER, AI-Operation  The most tangible evidence of the Juniper focus on AI is Marvis, which is the first network assistant in the industry to bring conversational AI to networking, transforming the way IT teams interact and engage with enterprise networks. Technically, Marvis is a Virtual Network Assistant (VNA) developed by Juniper Mist. It’s essentially a 24/7/365 support “robot” for enterprise networks. It offers:

  • Conversational AI: Marvis transforms the way IT teams interact with enterprise networks by providing streamlined operations, simplified troubleshooting, and remarkable user experiences.
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU): Marvis enriches its natural language processing (NLP) capabilities with NLU. This allows it to understand user intent and deliver improved results. It can contextualize requests, accelerate troubleshooting workflows, answer product-specific questions, and provide information about the network.
  • Troubleshooting and Support: Marvis significantly helps with troubleshooting. It presents a comprehensive network view with insights into users, clients, and devices. IT teams no longer need to memorize CLI commands or navigate multiple dashboards—it’s all accessible from the Mist dashboard.
  • Proactive Alerts: Marvis proactively alerts network administrators of potential issues, sometimes even before customer support tickets arrive.

The upshot of Juniper leveraging AI is tangible:

  • 95% reduction in trouble tickets for Halfords
  • 85% fewer engineer site visits for GAP
  • 75% faster network-service provision for Musgrave
  • 96% faster problem resolution for UPS.

Fortinet are equally clear on how AI and ML shape their portfolio. Their blog post on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning in the Cybersecurity Battle is a great primer for anyone new to this topic as it was written to “demystify and hopefully bring some new angles to our readers in the decision-making around “ML-enabled” security solutions”. They also have a great guide on the Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Cybersecurity, which covers

  • AI Applications: AI is used for tasks like decision-making, speech recognition, visual perception, and language translation.
  • Cybersecurity Impact: AI enhances cyber defense by automating threat detection, generating alerts, and protecting sensitive data.
  • AI Benefits: AI techniques like deep learning and machine learning improve automated cyber defense, saving time and resources.
  • Automation & Staffing: AI helps overcome the shortage of expert security staff, enhancing security without additional personnel.

Core to the FortinetAI offering is FortiAIOps, which is an artificial intelligence with machine learning (AI/ML) solution for Fortinet networks. This ensures quick data collection and identification of network anomalies. Fortinet network devices (FortiAPs, FortiSwitches, FortiGates, SD-WAN, FortiExtender) across the network feed the FortiAIOps dataset, enabling insights and event correlation for the network operations center (NOC).

As you would expect Cisco is investing heavily in AI on multiple fronts, including incorporating an AI Assistant and creating AI-ready infrastructure including its AI network fabrics in partnership with NVIDIA. Cisco’s core position is that “Everything relies on a secure network, especially AI. At the foundation of AI innovation will be highly flexible, groundbreaking infrastructure solutions delivered by Cisco.” The ‘Cisco AI Readiness Index’ is well worth a read if you want to get a sense of where companies worldwide stand in navigating the evolving AI landscape. As Cisco states “the question remains: are they prepared to fully adopt, deploy, and harness the power of AI?”

Other Ampito partners are also making significant headway in this space. They include:

  1. Extreme Networks’ cloud networking, SD-WAN and network switches are helping to power the AI era. The company’s new ExtremeCloud IQ CoPilot provides AIOps and machine learning for end-to-end visibility to help customers be more data-driven and proactive.
  2. Vast Data dubs itself as the world’s first data computing platform company designed to serve as the foundation for AI-automated discovery. The Vast Data Platform aims to make the entire AI data pipeline simple to deploy and manage, with a storage architecture that delivers file, object, database and edge-to-cloud services in a unified system.
  3. Horizon3.ai – Here, the clue is in the name. Horizon3.ai’s NodeZero product is easy-to-use, safe for production, and scales to support even the largest networks. Security teams are empowered to test a very broad scope in a single test, orchestrate tests concurrently, and simultaneously test against different attacker perspectives. AI is used to power trend analysis and data-driven insights that both help customers measure the effectiveness of their security initiatives and aid refining future strategies, while providing the metrics to enable CISOs and CIOs to make more informed decisions about future security investments and policies.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list – pretty much every vendor will have an AI capability that provides value and is intended to help organisations leverage AI for better business performance.

How is your business executing your AI strategy? In the areas of IT Infrastructure and Cybersecurity, AI is already proving to be a game changer. If you would like to understand more about how you can leverage Ai and ML in your network and cybersecurity strategies, contact us using the form below for a no obligation conversation.

Written by Dave Hughes

More by Dave Hughes