Are your users overloading your network with their devices? It’s no wonder. With streaming services, video game systems, virtual assistants, wireless speakers, and other devices it’s a struggle to meet demands of your network users.  

Add chatty protocols such as mDNS and UPnP among others—and it just adds to the damage it can do to your enterprise network. 

The Cisco User Defined Network (UDN) solution is your savior as it helps you meet the growing demand of proliferation of wireless devices. Announced earlier this summer and already getting strong industry buzz—it was a finalist for CRN’s 2020 Innovation of the Year AwardUDis available now in North America.  

How does it work? It all begins on a shared networkfor example you could have students in a dorm or seniors living in senior living facilities or developers and testers looking to emulate home environment. There’s a lot of devices jockeying for space on the network and not only that, these devices aren’t private. Anyone can see them, and a lot of time, anyone can access them. With Cisco UDN users get their own private partition on the network 

Now your users can bring their home devices to the enterprise network and control their devices like they do at home. Users will now only see their personal devices on the network even when they are connected to shared enterprise network. Not only that—and here’s the really cool thing—they can invite other users to their UDN and even share services between their personal devices and their friend’s devices while in their UDN defined partition 

And it couldn’t be easier. All users have to do is download a new mobile app from Cisco (available for free in the Apple App and Google Play stores). This app allows them to control their UDN-defined partition, you can allow and deny access to your devices with a touch of a button. But get this, users can pre-register their personal devices before they bring them in enterprise network. That means user devices are ready to be used the minute they walk on campus. None of our competitors can say the same thing. The only thing that you have to do is enable the Cisco UDN solution from Cisco DNA Center and it works! 

Now that we told you what Cisco User Defined Network is all about, I’m sure your next question is, “How does it make my job easier and what about the network?” We’ve got you covered, check this out:  

  • Privacy – Currently, when users connect to an enterprise network, they see all of the devices on the networknot just their own devices. With Cisco UDN, they get the peace of mind that only they can see their personal devices which they have registered through mobile app. And the flip side is no one can see their devices (see below) 
  • Control – Currently when users authenticate to the shared network, anybody could take control of their devices because they see those devices in the network. With Cisco UDN, malicious users cannot see other devices on network, so they cannot take control of your users personal devices.
  • Manage home device proliferation – You can only say no so many times to your network users to bring their home devices to the network. You know the reasons why not, but they’re not going to listen to you. To add to this frustration, this holiday season there’s a new launch of Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5. Good luck getting anyone to keep these at home, so these devices on your network are only going to increase in numbers.
  • Sharing – With Cisco UDN, network users can now share devices and services with each other like they used to do at home with their family and friends. So, whether it’s playing multiplayer on your game consoles, printing on a wireless printer, playing music on your roommates’ new wireless speaker or dropping files to your friend, Cisco UDN makes it just an invitation away. 

So, how does it make all of this possible? When users register their devices through the Cisco UDN mobile app, it creates a personal network for each user like a partition. Only the devices which are present in the partition can recognize each other. Users will not be able to see other devices present on the shared network. So, now they cannot start streaming to other device accidently or share something unless they absolutely want to. If they now wish to share devices with other users, they can invite those users and their selected devices to their UDN and start sharing with them. Cisco UDN gives control to invitee as well as invited user on when they want to join or leave the UDN. 

Figure 1: User Defined Networks in a shared network


Cisco User Defined Network not just helps your network users but also takes into consideration needs for an IT Admin as well in the following ways – 

  • Prevents flooding – By containing multicast traffic such as Bonjour, UPnP, and others inside their UDN partition, it prevents flooding of such packets to entire network as the traffic is now contained within a particular UDN. 
  • Easy registration of devices – Cisco UDN provides multiple options to register the devices through mobile app via camera scanning, image scanning and other flexibilities to register from anywhere on-prem and off-prem. This gives IT admins peace of mind as they don’t have to handle registration requests when everybody tries to deploy their devices to the network.  
  • Enablement on location of choice – Cisco UDN provides the option to be enabled only in one part of the network and need not be enabled on entire campus such as in a residential building only or only on specific SSIDs. 
  • Provide service to subset of users – Through the integration with Active Directory, you can provide the Cisco UDN service to subset of users and not need to enable to everyone on the network. Basically, you get to choose who can use the UDN solution. For example – you may want to enable only for students living in a dorm and not for all students.  

With Cisco User Defined Network, now you can think about allowing your users to bring any device they want to the enterprise network without having to worry about flooding or privacy. Your users can enjoy a premium homelike user experience even when they are connected to enterprise network. 

To hear what Cisco customers are talking about UDN solution, please refer to below link – 


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Chandan Mehndiratta

Vice President of Product Management

Catalyst Switching and Software Solutions