There are many variations of the “Law of Constant Change”; while they all have their own spin on it, the common thread is that change is constant and that it needs to be harnessed. When looking at changes and disruptions in technology, it comes as no surprise that there are numerous transformations and trends which are reshaping the IT landscape. The megatrends and change drivers span a wide range of business changes and transformation agents such as:

Megatrends shaping digital transformation

To keep up with the rapidly changing IT landscape, many IT organizations have been able to ascend and transform into new operational paradigms with the xOps transformation. Conversations around agility, AIOps, NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps are an outcome of a combination of organizational behavior and tooling in the networking and infrastructure realms. Separately, Gartner has also identified four IT personas (NetOps, SecOps, AIOps, and DevOps) which Gartner defined as predominant roles in today’s network operations realm.

In looking at key challenges, organizations are struggling with:

  • Reducing time recovery objectives due to the reactive nature of traditional network operations practices.
  • Bridging the growing IT skill gap.
  • Keeping up with changing business requirements.
  • Delivery of secure services in the hybrid workplace.
  • Having to deliver more with less.

With Cisco’s years of expertise in designing, operating, and supporting networks of all sizes across the globe. Cisco has been an instrumental part in helping IT organizations move forward to the next operational level with tools to embrace and enable the xOps personas and embark on the transformation journey. This boils down to providing tools with analytics capabilities from the infrastructure and cultivating staff skills to use them effectively.

Speaking of how tooling can enable the transition, Cisco DNA Center is at the center of the IT/OT transition into the four IT personas, providing the digital agility to drive network insight automation and security while promoting key capabilities and tools to help in skill cultivation and changed operational models.

Network Operations or “NetOps” is the front line of administrators in the IT organization. The term NetOps is a way to classify the common tasks and responsibilities, or “Jobs to be Done,” by these individuals. With Cisco DNA Center at the heart of the network infrastructure, the NetOps persona is enhanced with varying levels of automation to simplify the creation and maintenance of networks with agile flexibility to move from manual tasks to AI-assisted to selectively autonomous network management. For example, the SWIM (Software Image Management) and network profiles feature not only save time but allow for consistency and elimination of human error with routine tasks. The NetOps automation brought into DevOps provides agility and scalability to IT organizations to keep up with changing demands and integration into the larger IT ecosystem. Gartner has stated that the next generation of Netops, which Gartner coined as “Netops 2.0” is the evolution of network operations towards automation.

Network, application, and user security is a key requirement for any enterprise network, and no network can operate safely without security. The security team is responsible for providing a safe digital experience in today’s connect-from-anywhere hybrid work environment and networks with countless numbers of endpoint devices. Also, many IT organizations in different market segments have various network security and architecture recruitments. Cisco DNA Center empowers the SecOps persona by enabling the complete zero-trust workplace solution with AI-driven security to classify endpoints and automated enforcement of security policies. This is achieved with Cisco’s fully integrated platform, which incorporates hardware and software designed to provide contextual security insights and automation. Cisco DNA Center SecOps can help eliminate security vulnerabilities with proactive security scans, automated security advisory alerting Cisco’s Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT), and proactive bug scans powered by Cisco AI Network Analytics engine to ensure the network is always secure.

The DevOps persona brings integration, automation, and orchestration together. Traditionally, DevOps teams focused on very specialized, proprietary, and home-spun applications. Today, these individuals are tasked with taking these apps and integrating them into a connected universe of corporate solutions. DevOps depends on manufacturer-supplied software tool kits (STKs) and standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs) in order to share information and intelligence between applications. With Cisco DNA Center, IT organizations can quickly utilize pre-built integrations to Cisco products and 3rd party enterprise applications such as ServiceNow, Splunk, PagerDuty, and a growing selection of partner integrations. Cisco DNA Center’s mature APIs enable the extraction of data and network management, leveraging and harnessing the power of Cisco DNA Center’s NetOps, AIOps and SecOps via the API interface.

AIOps defines the technologies that implement AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning) and the individuals that leverage these technologies. Evidently, AI/ML is being implemented in so many of our networking components that it has become imperative that a specialized team of experts manage and amplify the use of this intelligence. Cisco DNA Center provides a simplified view into the complexities of big data and machine learning so that your AIOps teams can make the most of this rich data.  Additionally, Cisco DNA Center provides best-in-class AI-driven visibility, observability, and insights, ensuring the health and experience of users, applications, and infrastructure. AI/ML is packaged within Cisco DNA Center in an easy consumption interface that can deliver value in minutes and allow IT teams to work smarter and elevate the level of service to the users and organization. Hence, with Cisco DNA Center AIOps, IT organizations can gain visibility and insights otherwise not attainable without AI/ML combined with Cisco’s deep networking knowledge. Simply put, this powerful combination makes the IT team more agile and smarter and helps bridge growing IT skills gaps.

The xOps Rings of power

While the four IT personas were explained as distinct roles, in many organizations, they are simply different hats that IT staff can wear at different times depending on the business need.  It is also essential to keep the perspective that each of the personas enables and provides services to other personas, yielding the “Rings of Power” for example, with AI centricity, Cisco DNA Center empowers, enables, and enhances the NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps personas by providing interactions with all personas in the ring. Similarly, NetOps persona-centricity enables and empowers DevOps, SecOps, and AIOps personas.

An example of the AIOps ring of power:

AIOps Ring of Power

AIOps discovers security vulnerabilities and recommends an upgrade.

NetOps performs the SWIM process to upgrade the software.

DevOps connects to ServiceNow for the change management and ticket creation processes.

SecOps reports the new network security posture, eliminating the security vulnerability from the network.

Leveraging Cisco DNA Center to enable and empower the new IT personas model, IT organizations can quickly and easily gain visibility, observability, insights, and out-of-the-box automation. While organizations with more modern operational models are also able to yield zero trust, and programmability from the Cisco Network infrastructure. This enables IT organizations to be more agile and transform into the new xOps operational paradigm, allowing the IT organization to progress on the operational maturity journey, become proactive and leave the reactive persona behind.

If you would like to learn more about Cisco DNA Center and the four IT personas, keep an eye out for more blogs about Cisco DNA Center personas.

Visit Cisco DNA Center web page for additional resources and information.

Additional Resources:

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

* Gartner “Market Guide for Network Automation Tools” Published 22 February 2022 – ID G00735443


Shai Silberman

Engineering Product Manager

EN-Software Defined Networking