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Networking Done Right: Our Vision Behind DNA-Center


February 27, 2018 - 5 Comments

The transportation industry is undergoing unprecedented disruption that we read about in news every day.  Several companies are envisioning how transportation of humans and cargo will work in the future – from self-driving cars to magnetic levitation trains. Due to this renewed technology-driven reboot, the transportation industry is at such an exciting juncture of digital transformation.

The network is the foundation that fuels such digital transformations. However, in order to enable such transformations, the network must transform itself as well.

Cisco has been working on digital transformations in a variety of different ways. Our vision was to culminate all our efforts to build the network of the future–a closed-loop system that’s self-learning, self-correcting and self-contained, delivering true intent-based networking. We want to vastly simplify networking and integrate with other parts of IT to enable digital transformation. Bringing this vision to life necessitated a single touch point on top of the network – DNA Center – that abstracts the entire complexity of the network underneath.

With DNA Center, we translate business intent into IT policy, activate it across the entire network, and ensure that the network is behaving as it should. DNA Center moves us away from the traditional manner of manually operating the network, but instead automates it, gleans information from it and uses the information to improve it. We brought it to market in two parts –  the unveiling of our intent-based networking portfolio last June and the introduction of network assurance last month.

Achieving such a profound vision required a foundational set of guiding principles. Here are the top few we worked on to make DNA Center a reality –

Principle #1: Hide complexity In the past, networking was centered on box-level interoperability and was operated manually. This was complex, difficult to operate, inefficient, error-prone and non-scalable. We engineered DNA Center to hide the complexity and make the network easy and efficient to operate at scale.

Principle#2: Break silos Traditionally wired, wireless, and WAN were operated as silos even though together they form an integrated network. DNA Center breaks these silos and enables the network to be operated as a cohesive whole – spanning campus, WAN, branch across wired and wireless, and even IoT products.

Principle #3: Cross-domain interworking For digital transformation to truly take flight, we need multiple domains including campus, data center, security, collaboration and more to successfully interwork. DNA Center connects with all these domains enabling smooth cross-domain interworking.

Principle #4: Bridge to the past DNA Center has been purpose built to hide the complexity of networks built with different generations of networking gear. The goal with DNA Center is to seamlessly bridge your current and future networks by supporting greenfield and brownfield deployments.

Principle #5: Tethered to the cloud Tethering DNA Center to the cloud allows us a virtuous cycle of continuous delivery of innovation. This is a radical shift from the traditional networking upgrade cycle. Customers no longer need to wait years for the next upgrade cycles to access new innovations. Everything is available continuously from the cloud.

Principle #6: Scale as you grow DNA Center is architected to manage and automate tens of thousands of devices and millions of end points. It is built with micro services that enable true horizontal scaling as needed.

Principle #7: Single point of integration Digitization requires applications and other components of IT to be integrated with the network to deliver business outcomes. It is not possible to achieve it by bespoke integration of discrete networking elements. With a rich set of APIs, SDK and a developer ecosystem, we have engineered DNA-Center to be the single integration layer to the network.

Principle #8: Creating a hassle-free third-party developer environment We wanted to enable app developers to achieve their end outcomes, with the network, without having to learn networking. With DNA Center, we have created a mechanism for app developers to write apps that reside on top of the network and that can take advantage of network data. This is an industry-first in many ways and we’re proud to make this capability available to app developers. We look forward to build several extensions off DNA Center in the years to come.

DNA Center was born out of a vision to fundamentally fix all that ails modern networking. We’re hiding all historical complexity without rendering the network useless. Grounded in rock-solid engineering principles, we have created a single point of automation in a closed-loop system with a rich developer ecosystem on top of it.

To conclude, with digitization, network connectivity is only becoming more mission-critical for businesses. In an era, where robots perform tele-surgery and retail stores are getting fully automated, we need the network to be able to intuitively understand intent, cohesively respond across multiple platforms and keep itself safe. This is the future that makes me as excited as when the Internet came into being in the early 1990s or when the first self-driving car was recently launched. This is the future, we’re driving towards.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Interesting transformational times in the networking industry and Cisco leads the way with path breaking innovative products like DNAC. The writeup reflects clear and crisp vision.

  2. Great advantages!!!

  3. This blog post is beautifully written. The only thing I would add is that DNA center is able to capture the network as a whole, and how it changes over times. The goal is simple. DNA center will understand how the network has operated now and in the past, and with machine learning, can now see how the network can be made even better. Automatically.

  4. It has been a privilege to see this happening from up close and in continuous cycles. Cannot wait to see massive DNAC adoption in next few years.

  5. Great article