Go to any trade show or technology event and you will see Software Defined {insert name here} everywhere.  Each vendor promising the panacea of ease of use, cost savings, and being ready for the future of IoT and beyond.  Moving the management duties off individual boxes into a centralized system does make it easier to operate a network leading to less time configuring and troubleshooting to reduce costs. It is that last part of being ready, what does that really mean?

If you add an IoT device, such as a badge reader to the network, is that the future?  Sure, the NetOps team can apply the SDN policy to that device and keep it segmented, but other than making it easier to apply the policy, is that really the value of SDN for the future?

While Cisco was working on building out our SDN portfolio – starting in the Data Center with our Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and across the network by acquiring Meraki – our customers were asking for more.  How did they know if the users were having a great experience, that the applications were working as they should, and what about all those new IoT things coming on the network?  They told us that if we really wanted to help them we would automate where we could, provide a 360-degree view of the health and security of the network and applications, and make the network customizable from the endpoint all the way to the cloud or Data Center.

Here at Cisco, we are in a unique position with a portfolio that spans from wherever the workload lives to where it is consumed, so who else could deliver on these requests?

We started this journey by ensuring all parts of the network followed a Software Defined model, bringing all the control into critical control points, and out of the box-to-box configurations.  Then, we added application awareness and automation so that the network could identify all the users and applications, and apply the appropriate policies.  Next, we acquired AppDynamics, built Tetration and the Assurance modules to deliver the health information.  We entered into a unique partnership with Apple to deliver enterprise experience to mobile users.  Finally, we started to automate parts of the network with EasyQoS, that monitors the Quality of Service for critical applications and automatically adjusts QoS policies to ensure a great experience.

All this work has fundamentally changed the ability of IT to deliver more value to the business, but we needed to do more.  Looking at a great company like Apple, you might think first about the iPhone as a smart device. But it is the Apple App Store that really provides the customization and the value.  This is why Cisco created DevNet, a one-stop-shop to learn, experience, and share code, that makes the network…your network…do what you want it to do with your custom applications and environment.

Here’s an interview I recorded with DevNet this year at Cisco Live Cancun, talking about the experience of utilizing DevNet:

APIs let you do all kinds of interesting things: change the temperature when more than X people badge in; change the background music when more than X people are waiting in line; deploy a new bandwidth policy when you see the SVP SSID get utilized; move a container to the cloud when the latency is more than X; open a ticket and change security policy with ServiceNow when you see X…  And this is just the beginning.

Our world-class partners are investing in DevOps all over the world to help you take advantage of all these new possibilities.  You can check out what partners have done using DevNet and our open APIs by visiting the DevNet Ecosystem Exchange.

Partner Training with Victor Vleeschower, Bill Hentschell, Par Merat, and Silvia Spiva


At Cisco, we don’t say SDN helps you get ready for the future, we say the Future is NOW. Join our DevNet community, and take advantage of it today.



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Bill Hentschell

Global Director of Intent Based Networking

Global Partner Organization