As corporate data centers are on the decline, cloud-first and cloud acceleration initiatives are adding pressure on IT organizations to virtualize and move to the cloud. Furthermore, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will shut down their traditional data centers, with many electing to accomplish data center modernization by leveraging colocation facilities and the public cloud.

As part of the modernization and sustainability efforts, in many IT environments, 90% of all IT services are virtualized in some form. With the maturity of the hybrid cloud to extend the virtualization reach to the public clouds such as Amazon, Google, or Microsoft, IT organizations are finding themselves with a multitude of virtualization options and the ability to move workloads to the cloud.

In keeping pace with cloud acceleration trends and customer goals, Cisco DNA Center can now join the virtualized environment with the rest of the virtualized IT ecosystem. Cisco is offering two virtualized options for Cisco DNA Center;

  • AWS cloud using an AMI image
  • VMware ESXi using an OVF image

Cisco DNA Center Virtual Appliance

Both virtualized form factors mirror the medium DNA Center appliance for the scale and have feature parity with the physical appliance with a few caveats.

Figure 1. Virtual Cisco DNA Center Specifications and Scale
Figure 1. Virtual Cisco DNA Center Specifications and Scale

Moving to a public cloud like AWS has its advantages, providing a secure, reliable enterprise-grade environment with built-in features such as geolocation diversity, high availability, disaster recovery, and rapid deployment models.

The Cisco DNA Center virtual appliances are a zero-dollar cost with optional support for each virtual appliance for TAC supportability. Customers are still required to license their network devices with a DNA subscription license.

Sustainability and Time To Value

Virtualization has long been recognized as a more sustainable method to run applications; however, with Cisco DNA Center, it accelerates the time to value as the installation from start to finish can be completed in less than 2 hours, at which point customers can start adding network devices, monitoring and managing their network estate.

Cloud Deployment Models

While the new Cisco DNA Center form factors are considered cloud options, it is essential to note that Cisco DNA Center is not a SaaS deployment but rather a cloud-hosted and managed instance of Cisco DNA Center on the customer’s private or public cloud instance. Customers looking for a SaaS solution should look at the Cisco Meraki Cloud Monitoring offerings.

Figure 2. Deployment Models
Figure 2. Deployment Models

Cloud Migration

Cisco has migration paths for customers with physical appliances who would like to move to the virtual appliance form factor. For Prime Infrastructure customers, there are several tools and services available to help migrate your network infrastructure from Prime Infrastructure to Cisco DNA Center (physical or virtual).

To get started with Cisco DNA Center on AWS, please contact your sales representative to place an order for the software.

For customers who are interested in the VMware ESXi version of Cisco DNA Center. The Cisco DNA Center ESXi EFT (early field trial) is planned to start in April 2023 with General Availability (GA) planned for the end of summer 2023.  (Note that future dates are subject to change). Join the EFT for the EXSi EFT


Visit Cisco DNA Center to learn more!

Additional Resources:

Learn More about Prime to Cisco DNA center migration

Cisco dCloud to experience and demo Cisco DNA Center via your Cisco log-in credentials

Cisco DNA Center Communities to connect with your peers and Cisco specialists

Meraki documentation for details on Meraki Dashboard features and functionality


Balaji Venkatraman

VP, Product Management

Product Management - DNA - US