Part 2 of the 2-part series – Campus and Branch Network Management Platforms

In my last blog, Campus & Branch Network Deployment Flexibility, Part 1, I highlighted digital transformation trends and some of the driving forces behind the IT landscape shift we are seeing today, such as:

  • Network complexity
  • The growing number of devices and users
  • Rising cybersecurity threats
  • IoT adoption
  • Hybrid workspaces
  • Cloud migration

These trends impact the way customers approach network design, deployment, and management. Cisco has on-premises and cloud deployment solutions that help you simplify network operations while lowering your IT costs.

Cisco on-premises deployment options

For on-premises deployments, covered in part 1, Cisco offers two flavors of network management platforms to increase visibility into campus or branch networks from a single pane of glass:

  • Cisco DNA Center physical appliance gives you the ability to deploy a physical appliance to manage wired and wireless networks
  • Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for ESXi deployment for on-premises deployment flexibility if you have a virtual-first, on-premises strategy.

Cisco cloud deployment options

Why cloud? In part 1 of this blog, I shared the fact that a lot of applications are moving to the cloud, and many customers are embracing the industry’s cloud-first strategy. In this blog part 2, I’ll focus on Cisco’s cloud deployment options, specifically cloud-based management platforms for campus and branch networks that can help you remain innovative while moving to a hybrid cloud world.

With cloud-based deployment options, you can now tackle the challenges of hybrid work and more distributed network environments with simplified network management. You can help address the most challenging enterprise use cases in a simple, cloud-native way with the goal of improving operational efficiency, reducing infrastructure complexity, and enhancing network security.

Cisco On-premise & Cloud Management Platforms Options
Figure 1. Cisco On-premise & Cloud Management Platforms Options

For cloud deployment flexibility, Cisco offers two network management platform solutions:

  • Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Cloud Monitoring/Management for Catalyst

Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for Amazon Web Service (AWS)

At Cisco Live in Las Vegas in June 2022, Cisco announced the upcoming Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance. For cloud-based deployments, the Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance runs on AWS. This deployment is not a SaaS solution; the virtual appliance is deployed in the customer’s virtual private cloud (VPC) environment, where all services are managed by the customer. The deployment process takes less than an hour from start to finish. Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance offerings in cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are planned. Our developers’ team has worked hard to embed flexibility for end users deploying the virtual appliance of the Cisco DNA Center on AWS. Deployments can use a launchpad to automate the installation or a manual mode if the end-user already has a custom AWS environment. As of this article, the Cisco DNA Center Virtual Appliance for AWS is currently in the early field trial stage. Reach out to your Cisco team for more details on how to get started.

Customers who might prefer the Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for AWS

  • Customers who have a cloud-first strategy
  • Customers who already leverage cloud applications such as AWS
  • Customers who are skilled in cloud design and deployments

Cisco DNA Center appliance physical & virtual appliances
Figure 2. Cisco DNA Center appliance physical & virtual appliances

Cloud monitoring/management for Cisco Catalyst products in the Meraki dashboard

     Cloud monitoring for Catalyst

Another Catalyst announcement that was made at Cisco Live in Las Vegas in June 2022 was that customers who currently have Catalyst 9000 series switches can now onboard them into the Meraki dashboard to gain visibility, troubleshoot, and take advantage of the single pane of glass with a unified cloud-based view. This feature is called cloud monitoring for Cisco Catalyst switches. This is yet another breakthrough innovation to provide our customers with options to embrace hybrid cloud solutions.

Cloud monitoring for Cisco Catalyst switches allows existing and new Cisco Catalyst customers to onboard and monitor Cisco Catalyst 9000 series switches using the Meraki dashboard. In the Meraki dashboard, customers can view Cisco Catalyst switch statistics, configuration, and troubleshooting capabilities, and monitor the infrastructure in one place.

For the moment, the Meraki dashboard has read-only access to the switches, which means that configuration management and changes still must be done using other tools. The switch IOS XE features such as CLI access are still supported and accessible. As of this writing, the following platforms can be monitored in the Meraki dashboard. The minimum recommended Cisco IOS XE version is 17.3.1 and later:

  • Catalyst 9200 series switches (including 9200L models)
  • Catalyst 9300 series switches (including 9300L and 9300X models)
  • Catalyst 9500 series switches

Monitoring for the remaining platforms such as modular switches as well as IOS XE wireless platforms is on the roadmap.

     Cloud management for Catalyst

Today we support cloud management of Cisco Wi-Fi 6E Access Points (APs) via dual management mode. You can manage Cisco Catalyst 9160 series APs with either Cisco DNA Center or Meraki. Cisco Catalyst 9162, 9164, and 9166 Access Points support a Cisco DNA mode that enables management through Cisco DNA Center or a Meraki mode that allows management through the Meraki dashboard like any other Meraki MR Access Point. The cloud management for Catalyst switches feature, which will allow full control and configuration changes of Cisco catalyst switches, is coming soon. With this feature, Cisco Catalyst 9000 series switches will be compatible with Meraki MS switches from feature parity and functionalities in the Meraki dashboard. Customers will be able to make configuration changes on Cisco Catalyst switches as they do with Meraki MS switches.

  • Cisco DNA management mode applies to Catalyst Wi-Fi 6E Access Points with Cisco DNA Software for Wireless licenses and Cisco DNA features.
  • Meraki management mode applies to Catalyst Wi-Fi 6E Access Points using a Meraki license with Meraki features.
Table 1: A table summarizing the availability of different management platforms

Benefits of Meraki cloud monitoring/management deployments

  • Centralized monitoring of Catalyst and Meraki devices
  • Unified topology view of network devices and network device status
  • In-dashboard alerts for switch or port issues
  • Port-level packet and error counters
  • Remote troubleshooting and diagnostics tools
  • Having the ability to choose either Cisco DNA Center or Meraki dashboard as a management platform

Customers who might prefer the Meraki cloud monitoring/management deployment option

  • Customers who already have Meraki platforms; upon refresh, they can choose to adapt Catalyst switches into their existing infrastructure.
  • Customers who are running a hybrid network of Meraki and Catalyst: benefit by moving Catalyst hardware into view on the Meraki dashboard with monitoring.
  • Catalyst customers not using Cisco DNA Center as the operational platform: gain immediate value with cloud monitoring, providing a view of your network from anywhere, anytime, giving you an easy way to experience Meraki dashboard.
  • Customers who have a cloud-first strategy
  • Customers with branch topology without central connectivity (WAN)
  • Customers with non-IT Catalyst applications such as smart buildings and power over ethernet (PoE) applications

The following articles compile everything you need to know about cloud/management monitoring for Cisco Catalyst products to help you get started today:

In this article, you learned about cloud-based solutions we have available for campus and branch network management:

  • Cisco DNA Center Virtual Appliance for AWS
  • Cloud monitoring and management for Catalyst products using the Meraki dashboard

You were able to learn about Cisco DNA Center for AWS deployment, and how this makes it possible for customers to scale and leverage their existing cloud environments to continue to enhance their network operations while minimizing costs. You also learned about cloud monitoring and cloud management for Catalyst devices to help customers who are adopting a cloud-first strategy to have a single pane of glass for their network operations.


Join the experts from the Cisco DNA Center business entity team for an

Introduction of the Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for AWS



Additional Resources:

Deployment options expand with Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance

Meraki: Getting started with cloud monitoring for Catalyst quick start guide

Meraki: Cloud monitoring overview and FAQ

Witches and Switches: A New Era of Trick-or-Treating

Cisco DNA Center virtual appliance for AWS FAQs


Alphonsine Anderson

Technical Solutions Architect