Customers are saying that network automation is becoming a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. According to a recent IDG survey[1] of IT leaders, automation is fast expanding into areas such as network provisioning and orchestration (56%), policy configuration (54%), and issue resolution (50%).

That’s not totally surprising. Today, there is an exponential rise in the number and type of devices, users and things getting connected to the network. And to fulfill that increasing demand, networks are getting more complex & deployments getting massive. Network Automation plays a very crucial part in not only simplifying the Day-0 deployment process, but also simplifying day-to-day operations & maintenance at Day-1, 2, & n. Cisco DNA Center is built ground up to offer network automation, policy automation, provisioning, segmentation & assurance from a single unified dashboard. Miercom evaluated the network automation capabilities of Cisco DNA Center and how it stacks up against HPE-Aruba & Huawei.

As an integral part of delivering intent-based networking to our customers, Cisco DNA Center offers automated hierarchy-based workflows for network design, on-boarding devices & provisioning of devices/ services. With Cisco DNA Center, you can simply design the entire network for various locations, sites within locations, building & floor maps. Common configurations & services like device credentials, DNCP/ DNS, NTP, SNMP, telemetry and software management can be globally configured once, and then automatically trickled down to desired sites & sub-sites.

This saves lots of time and also reduces errors significantly. Even common configurations like wireless enterprise SSID & guest SSID with web-portal can be configured directly using Cisco DNA Center’s seamless integration with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). Cisco DNA Center follows best practices for optimal configuration based on device type or its role in the network. For example: when you define a switch port for connecting a wireless access point, Cisco DNA Center automatically pushes down 10-12 lines of commands to those switch ports to optimize for AP connectivity & functionality. Similarly, Cisco DNA Center’s LAN automation capabilities simplify the entire campus Software Defined Access (or SD-Access) deployment with just a few simple clicks.

We asked Miercom to carry out impartial tests on the network automation capabilities of Cisco DNA Center versus HPE-Aruba and Huawei. According to the resulting Miercom report, “Cisco offers automation for the end-to-end network, which saves time, resources and money for IT operations, as opposed to HPE and Huawei, which involves many steps and touchpoints”. For example, HPE-Aruba only offers hierarchy-based workflows for wireless (not wired).

So, for switching you have to rely on a separate NMS management dashboard (Aruba AirWave) with its traditional template-based configuration push for wired. Miercom also found that with HPE-Aruba you have to go through hundreds of pages of a config & best practices guide to optimize your network and touch multiple dashboards, which is time consuming and prone to errors. No tight integration with ClearPass is offered to abstract the workflows like in the case of Cisco DNA Center and Cisco ISE.

Miercom also found that Huawei offers no hierarchy and extremely limited automation capabilities which leads to old traditional template-based configurations for the entire wired & wireless network. Moreover, with Huawei you have to go through 4 different dashboards (Easy Operations, eSights, Agile 1.0, Agile 3.0) and also rely on CLI for network configuration & optimization. And since there is no hierarchy, you have to repeat these steps multiple times which is time consuming, OPEX intensive & susceptible to errors…just like HPE-Aruba.

Summary of Automation Capabilities from Miercom report:

Cisco HPE-Aruba Huawei
Automated Process Manual Process Manual Process
Duration: 1-2 hours Duration: 5-6 hours Duration: 1-2 days
Single Touch Point Multiple Touch Point Multiple Touch Point
Cisco DNA Center AirWave, Mobility Master, ClearPass CLI, Easy Operations, eSight, Agile Controller

Cisco offers simplified operations via comprehensive network automation capabilities, extending beyond basic day-zero configuration and helps the administrator convert business intent to an automated network configuration which saves time, resources and money. HPE-Aruba’s & Huawei’s automation story is very rudimentary and fragmented for different elements of the network like switching, wireless, users, devices etc. and requires multiple touchpoints as it’s based on manual, rigid, template-based provisioning instead of modern workflows.

For comprehensive comparison of network automation capabilities and much more, download the complete Miercom report here.

With the rise of connected users and devices, how will Cisco propel the future of wireless? Find out in our Wired for Wireless virtual event.



Kshitij Mahant

Technical Marketing Engineer

Enterprise Networking Group