Enterprises are increasingly adopting a multitude of applications delivered from the cloud. These applications not only promise to reduce IT costs but to enable key outcomes at scale to ensure business continuity and guaranteed SLAs. Enterprise IT is responsible for the seamless connectivity to these applications and ensuring their security and efficiency while maintaining low TCO.

Two recent cloud integrations with the Cisco Catalyst 9000 series switches ― Cisco ThousandEyes and Cisco DNA Spaces ― are powerful edge hosted applications that enable unprecedented value while delivering reliable and superior customer experiences at scale. These are both great examples of how intelligence at the edge can enable and accelerate cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) adoption.

Now, a third Cisco 9000 series integration, with NS1 cloud hosted DDI, allows customers to bolster security at the network edge. NS1 provides a cloud-managed, automated Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and IP Address Management (DDI) service to replace legacy, hardware-based DDI systems. It helps optimize application traffic with an intelligent network services DDI stack. Fully cloud managed, NS1 DDI automates network operations and mitigates risk by simplifying day-to-day IP Address Management (IPAM) activities. It lowers costs by bypassing expensive infrastructure in favor of flexible cloud services.

These three powerful cloud-based feature sets, deployed in lightweight containerized apps, are available to existing Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series customers with a Cisco DNA subscription license. Thousand Eyes and Cisco DNA Spaces are available at no extra charge.

The new integrations are a very big deal. Here’s why.

Hats Off to the Mighty Catalyst 9000

First, it’s worth noting that the Catalyst 9000 family (Figure 1) is a very special product, a perfect example of Cisco’s commitment to delivering ongoing innovation and value to our customers. The switches are the most widely deployed switches in enterprise campus and branches and have been an incredible success story.

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Portfolio
Figure 1. Cisco Catalyst 9000 Portfolio

The Catalyst 9000 series was introduced to address the digitization needs of the modern enterprise. Built with a programmable Cisco ASIC architecture and a modern Cisco IOS XE software stack, not only does the Catalyst 9000 provide best in class networking capabilities, it also delivers critical software innovations to address the demands of our customers as they address their growing requirements across security, mobility, IoT, and cloud services.

In just a few years after its launch, the Catalyst 9000 has been deployed by over 60,000 customers in leading global corporations, universities, governments, and different industry verticals industries. As Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has claimed: “Catalyst 9000 continues to be the fastest ramping product in the company’s history.”

Recent Cloud Integrations to the Catalyst 9000 – Cisco ThousandEyes and Cisco DNA Spaces

Cisco ThousandEyes enables a system of intelligent agents that can be hosted on the Catalyst 9000. The agents perform cloud-based monitoring of enterprise, network, application, and SaaS connectivity across the LAN and WAN, enabling service assurance for critical enterprise applications. The cloud-based, SaaS management dashboard, alerts, and reporting tools in ThousandEyes let enterprises see how the performance of their Internet and WAN connections impact applications. They can gauge performance through hop-by-hop path monitoring, BGP monitoring, and DNS and VoIP tests.

Cisco DNA Spaces is an open, unified cloud-based platform that delivers Indoor IoT services for organizations to digitize their physical spaces and gain insights into space usage and utilization by leveraging insights from a multitude of connected sensors. The integration of the DNA Spaces IoT gateway on Catalyst 9000 switches now creates the first unified wired and wireless indoor IoT platform. It allows a vast ecosystem of IoT endpoints (e.g., sensors, lighting systems, building management dashboards) and applications to interoperate over a common framework. The benefits include key smart building outcomes like enhanced safety, energy efficiency, emergency services, wayfinding, occupancy management, and air quality.

Cloud-Managed DDI with NS1 on the Catalyst 9000

To bolster network intelligence at the edge, Cisco has just announced the integration of NS1 to the Cisco Catalyst 9000 series switch family. The solution provides a modern, automated, software-based service that delivers DNS, DHCP, IPAM, and traffic steering without the limitations, cost, and complexity of traditional DDI technologies. NS1 is built on a modern, automated network services stack that connects applications with users and devices at the distributed edge to enable exceptional application performance and better user experiences.

NS1 DDI is also a software-defined API first solution that facilitates the delivery of scalable network services on premises, at remote branch locations, in the data center, and across cloud platforms (Figure 2). It’s DevOps Ready, eliminating complexity from the delivery of complex network services.

Cloud Managed DDI by NS1
Figure 2. Cloud Managed DDI by NS1

NetOps and DevOps teams can easily integrate network services into their development and operations workflow. NS1 DDI can be scaled for different deployment scenarios without any impact to queries per second (QPS), leases per second (LPS), and without the constraints imposed by hardware-based solution deployments.

NS1 lightweight containerized DDI applications have now been optimized to run on the Catalyst 9000. DNS, DHCP and IPAM are the most fundamental critical network services without which the network cannot function. For resilient operations and the smooth performance of these services, they must be locally hosted. As organizations look to scale their DDI operations across sites, instead of purchasing new hardware they can now use the application hosting infrastructure on the Catalyst 9000 switches to run their DDI stack.

As enterprises become more application centric this integration enables customers to seamlessly scale their DDI operations on the existing Catalyst 9000 switches, maximizing their ROI and improving network resiliency with blazingly fast DNS and DHCP performance. NS1 containers optimized for the Catalyst 9000 are available to download on Cisco Devnet. Additionally, NS1 software license can be purchased on the Cisco Global Price List (GPL).

More Integrations to Come

With the continued growth of cloud services and the emergence of 5G networking, the boundaries between cloud-hosted applications and the users and devices at the edge of the network will continue to blur. Users accessing applications across multiple clouds expect the same application performance as on a LAN. With an increasing focus on application performance, the edge has a vital role to play.

The integrations of Catalyst 9000 series switches with Cisco ThousandEyes, Cisco DNA Spaces, and now NS1 DDI results are all designed to provide a more intelligent edge. These cloud-based services, made available on the best-selling Cisco Catalyst 9000, are just the beginning of the innovations coming from Cisco to revolutionize the enterprise edge. If you need an automated, flexible, intelligence edge, Catalyst 9000 has you covered.

Stay tuned for more.


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Himanshu Mehra

Sr Director, Product Management

Enterprise Networking and Cloud