You know that feeling when you are right at the beginning of something big? A long-distance run perhaps, an extended vacation, or your first zip-line trip. You get this tingling feeling of anticipation. That was my feeling at Cisco Live when we unveiled the breadth of partner applications that have taken advantage of the new open platform capabilities of Cisco DNA Center. Partner applications, from power consumption analytics to automated onboarding of non-Cisco network equipment, are completely changing the way networks interact and exchange intelligence with the systems, applications, and devices around them.

In the process, partners are tapping into the new revenue opportunities this transformation is supplying, while also progressing on a journey that will result in a line of business solutions supplier relationship with customers.

360-degree extensibility

At the heart of these practice transformations are new automated network management capabilities using an open platform. The Cisco DNA Center open platform provides 360-degree extensibility so that an intent-based network can continuously align with the organization’s business applications, integrate with their IT processes, and deliver better network experiences.

Applications interact with Cisco DNA Center platform from all directions (or 360 degrees). Intent (or northbound) APIs abstract and automate previously manual network operations, such as managing network inventories, provisioning new or replacement devices, using network health statistics to monitor network operations, and perform management functions such as image upgrades and QOS changes. Integration (or east and westbound) APIs enhance interworking with core IT functions such as IT Service Management (ITSM), IP Address Management (IPAM), and reporting. They also integrate with other Cisco domain controllers, such as Cisco Meraki for wireless, Cisco Stealthwatch for security, and Cisco ACI for data centers. A southbound SDK enables anyone to connect any type of device to Cisco DNA Center just by developing a “device driver” like metafile called a device pack. These packs enable connections to third-party network devices as well as device types commonly used in IoT.

Cisco DNA Center’s 360 extensibility is especially useful for harmonizing policy and operations management of both conventional IP and IoT networks because intent policies are managed using northbound applications, and devices are connected using southbound interfaces.

Read the IDC paper on how to create revenue opportunities through service innovation.

Partner enthusiasm

The open 360-degree extensibility offered by Cisco DNA Center platform offers “ecosystem” value-add opportunities for partners. Creating applications and solutions around Cisco DNA Center enhances customer value of a practice and offers new revenue opportunities either as an Independent Software Vendor or as a solutions supplier. These solutions can be packaged and sold or offered as managed services. Regardless of the route to market and the motion, participating in the ecosystem can enhance your practice.

Many of Cisco’s top partners have already agreed with the visions and developed initial applications using Cisco DNA Center Platform. Here is a description of some of the applications demonstrated at Cisco Live in Orlando last June.

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Business and network intent APIs use cases

Recognizing that guest Wi-Fi access in enterprises or events usually suffers from neglect, are often abused and oversubscribed by unintended users, Dimension Data demonstrated their application that uses Cisco DNA Center’s intent APIs and use it to configure wireless access points with an SSID, start time, the bandwidth required, and end time. This allows event locations and organizations to better control deploying guest networks and the quality of experience while on the network.

One of the seemingly simple, but hard to get right, tasks in enterprise networking is ensuring that each type of traffic receives an appropriate priority classification. Wipro uses Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to identify users and groups and then uses intent APIs to make Cisco DNA Center configure the right QoS and security policies for users and applications across the network.

World Wide Technology built a mobile app for smartphones that communicates with Cisco DNA Center via the intent APIs to provide operators with a way to check on key network health indicators while on the go. They can receive push notifications when any detected issue and can even triage and discover solutions for those reported issues.

To satisfy global requirements of its large customers, IBM created an application that works off a common repository of configuration information for branch networks. With each branch having a similar network setup, the application customizes configurations for each branch and uses Cisco DNA Center to apply the right configuration to the right device.

Do you wish you had a better handle on port usage in your switches? Do you wish you could do this periodically to measure growth? In the past, you would have to log into each switch, issue CLIs and captured results to find out, and do this every so often. Conscia’s reporting application uses Cisco DNA Center to execute these steps automatically and makes this analysis simple.

Expenditure on power consumption by endpoints, servers, and devices, especially in large networks, can quickly add up. Presidio with their Honeycomb applications taps into power usage data provided by Cisco DNA Center; cross-relates it with the location, time, and prevailing energy rates, and proposes power usage optimizations by equipment selection and workload scheduling.

Italtel Netwrapper uniquely ties together IP network, IoT, and Collaboration technology domains to achieve common policy management. Netwrapper can monitor networks and enact policies enforced through Cisco DNA Center for quick response time with low OPEX. For example, Netwrapper is capable of detecting physical security breaches via events from smart devices channeled through Cisco DNA Center, and create video sessions using WebEx Teams between plant and operator who can monitor the situation live and take corrective actions as necessary.

IT and network systems process adapters use cases

Accenture presented how they have automated the process of software image updates in conjunction with ServiceNow. As soon as Cisco DNA Center detects any anomaly in software version in any device, it triggers a ticket creation in ServiceNow, which automatically schedules an update to the device, saving hours of manual workflow steps.

Logicalis focused on the healthcare vertical for their integration of Cisco DNA Center and ServiceNow. They added the contextual information that is required to resolve any issue automatically detected or reported by a user.

In yet another compelling use-case, ServiceNow removes the manual and tedious process of creating incident records, collecting data and debugging, and then resolving the problem.  With interaction with Cisco DNA Center, ServiceNow provides the IP address of a crashed or degraded device, the nature of the flaw in the device, a list of its neighboring devices (giving the operator an impact analysis), and a suggested remediation action. This saves hours of manual workflow steps and back-and-forth communication between different IT teams.

Until Infoblox linked their DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI) solution to Cisco DNA Center, IP address management, and network management operated in silos of their own. With this integration, operators can use a single interface to configure address pools, control their allocation, and monitor their usage.

Tableau created a reporting application that obtains raw network data collected by Cisco DNA Center and turns it into actionable insights into network usage and growth. It also merges Cisco DNA Center data with data obtained from other sources to provide a comprehensive view and uncover potential correlations.

Simplifying operations is the primary focus of Micro Focus’s IT Operations Management solutions (Network Operations Management and Operations Bridge). By integrating with Cisco DNA Center, this application will help customers manage their networks with the best of deep Cisco specific insights, in the context of the broader customer IT ecosystem and processes.

LiveAction showed three ways in which they integrate with Cisco DNA Center to provide enterprise-wide multi-vendor visual analytics. To simplify SD-WAN deployments, LiveNX presents a unified view for Viptela, Meraki, and IWAN domains, shows health scores from Cisco DNA Center for enterprise service quality, and aggregates issue counts for unifying the design, verification, and operations. This greatly helps in the troubleshooting of network workflows for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Multivendor SDK use cases

Enterprises sometimes have network equipment from different vendors, which can complicate their management. HCL NetBot, using Cisco DNA Center’s multivendor SDK simplifies management of such deployments by creating device packs for devices from several non-Cisco equipment vendors. These packs plug into Cisco DNA Center and allow uniform monitoring and controlling of all devices from a single dashboard.

What’s next

Cisco is investing in practice transformation for all our partners. Start learning about Cisco DNA Center open platform and join the pioneers who are defining the future of networking. For a directory of partners who have already built solutions with Cisco DNA Center, visit our Cisco DNA Center Ecosystem Exchange, and get involved in the community.

Further reading

Learn the importance of an open platform in an intent-based network: https://engage2demand.cisco.com/LP=11211?ccid=cc000006&oid=anren009196

See how intent-based networking can spark business innovation: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/enterprise-networks/intent-based-networking-business-innovation.html

Read the Cisco Focus Magazine special issue on Intent-Based Networking: https://newsroom.cisco.com/focus/2018/jun/intent-based-networking



Vivek Bhargava

Product Marketing Manager