Cisco said Monday that it will step up its push to court developers and has launched DevNet, a community and resource hub to encourage application development on the networking giant's platform. Cisco added that it plans an app marketplace in the months ahead.
Developers are critical to any software company or platform whether it's from Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Salesforce. For Cisco, which is transitioning to become more about software and services over hardware, wooing developers is even more important.
Cisco's master plan is to drive an application-centric infrastructure as software defined networking and data centers become the norm. Every hardware company faces Cisco's conundrum as new software-first rivals ranging from VMware to Red Hat start to emerge.
The networking leader has made a bevy of recent software moves, but DevNet is Cisco's way to build more of a community and ecosystem. Susie Wee, vice president and CTO of networked experiences at Cisco, said the company previously courted developers by individual product lines, but now has aggregated resources in one place.
"The developers don't just come. You have to make it easy for them to code and give them the tools they need," said Wee. "We had the assets just not in a way that was consumable."
Cisco has already soft launched its developer portal and so far the results have been solid. According to Cisco, its developer program grew at a 40 percent rate in seven months and it has 80,000 registered developers today, up from a base of 50,000. The main developer theme from Cisco is that the company is no longer broken down by product silos.
DevNet's goal is to create an ecosystem of independent software vendors, customers and partners to quickly build Cisco-based applications to sell through a set of application programming interfaces. Typically, developers have had trouble integrating applications with networking hardware.
Rick Tywoniak, director of DevNet, is leading the developer effort. He previously led Cisco's collaboration developer program. About 60 percent of DevNet's user base is focused on collaboration, but the growth is in software defined networks and the Internet of everything. Cisco is aiming to have more than 1 million developers by 2020, he said.
Broadly speaking, Cisco is hoping that developers will create network aware software that will add value to its hardware. Resources on DevNet will include APIs, software developer kits, code samples, support and community. Citrix, Glue Networks and Davra Networks are in Cisco's DevNet ecosystem.
Among the key points about DevNet:
There are more than 100 fully documented APIs that revolve around software defined networking, collaboration, mobility and security.
API management is delivered via Mulesoft.
Cisco is building out tutorials and sandboxes to ease integration.
The company will build a team of evangelists, support engineers and managers to cater to developers.
Monetization for developers will be sorted out at a later date. Tywoniak reckons that the applications on Cisco's marketplace will be interesting to lines of business as well as dev ops. Monetization on Cisco's app ecosystem will be a bit different because the company will work with a lot of larger software partners compared to individual developers.