Cisco Live 2018: DNA Center takes centre stage

Cisco's main announcement from its annual conference has been the addition of developer tools and network-wide APIs to its DNA Center.

Cisco has announced new developer tools and network-wide APIs for its DNA Center, saying it will allow developers to gain access to "all of the analytics and insight the network can provide".

"Intent-based networking represents the next generation of open, IP-based systems that we've seen can change the actual fabric of society," executive vice president and GM of Cisco's Networking and Security Business David Goeckeler said during Cisco Live 2018 on Tuesday.

"Already, our customers and partners are creating value from their networks in ways they thought weren't possible as recently as one year ago."

The additions to the platform will "elevate" network intelligence into business operations, simplify IT processes, and support multi-vendor networks via an SDK, according to Cisco.

"DNA Center enables developers to program the network as a single system through intent-based APIs -- now, developers can easily create a new generation of network-aware applications, and partners can integrate the network into business processes," Cisco said.

Read also: Cisco Live 2018: CEO Chuck Robbins pushes tighter datacentre security

According to Cisco, 15 partners have so far utilised the DNA Center platform. Cisco SVP of Product Management for Enterprise Networking Sachin Gupta told media that these include IBM, with which it has worked on an automated peering managed portal; Accenture, on incident management for ITSM operations; and Dimension Data, on wireless SSID leasing.

The partnerships also include Tableau on reporting; HCL on automated third-party device provisioning; Italtel on a wrapper for IoT communications integration; Presidio on network device power consumption; Wipro for user onboarding; LiveAction on analytics; Infoblox on IPAM; Micro Focus on ITSM; Service Now on ITSM; Logicalis on troubleshooting and ITSM integrations; World Wide Technology on a mobile app for assurance; and Conscia on network business analytics.

Goeckeler conceded that the industry is still in the early days of intent-based networking deployments.

Cisco had announced its DNA Center during Cisco Live a year ago as one of the three parts of its intuitive network alongside encrypted traffic analytics and a series of programmable IoT-, cloud-, and mobile-ready switches called the Catalyst 9000 series.

The global launch of intuitive network made the DNA Center available in early August last year, and DNA-Center network analytics available in October. According to Robbins, Cisco had to modernise its internetwork operating system (IOS) in order to develop its DNA Center.

"We had to rewrite IOS to a modern data model, API-structured operating system," Robbins said last year.

"That then allowed us to launch DNA-Center, which is fundamentally the command centre for the network.

"It also is a major analytics platform ... where we are going to stream the analytics, and we now have the ability to provide insights, context, and analytics from the application to the datacentre, to the core enterprise network, and combine it with all the threat-intelligence we have in our security portfolio."

Cisco in January then added analytics tools to its networking portfolio, including algorithms monitoring datacentre health, and campus and branch IoT intelligence and software.

The three analytics services announced at the time included the Network Assurance Engine; DNA Center Assurance; and Meraki Network Health.

"Many have been using those terms AI and machine learning, but not using assurance. It's about how to take business policy and translate it to what you need the network to do. How do you verify the network is doing what you want it to do?" Goeckeler said at the time.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Orlando as a guest of Cisco

Cisco Live 2018 Coverage