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Enabling Mobile Applications with Cisco Digital Network Architecture (#CiscoDNA)

- January 17, 2017 - 5 Comments

I’d like to share some of my favorite things inside Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA). Before we get going, I thought it would be fun to just spend a moment on what DNA is, from a layman’s perspective. Cisco DNA revolutionizes the way you deploy and manage your network for the digital era through a software-driven architecture focused on automation, security, and analytics. The diagram below may not be perfect, but it should suffice to explain this perspective.

Picture1Cisco DNA creates a platform that makes it so you can connect everything from the data center to the IoT device, with security and high performance. Furthermore, the parts that are not readily apparent in a network diagram, are actually even cooler than the parts you can see. While all of the networking is handled superbly, in typical traditional Cisco fashion, there’s a few extra really interesting things that I want to talk about:

First, and my favorite thing in DNA, if you add CMX to this network, you can create indoor location services. Imagine you walk into a big hardware store, and you want to find the electrical expert. Now imagine that you bring up the store’s app, and you see a store map. The map has a blue dot showing where you are and a pull down menu to select what you want.  You select “Electrical” and up pops a dot showing where that expert is. You walk up and say, “Hey are you the electrical expert?” And, now you are connected! Fast and efficient, life made easier by a mobile application. Here’s the question: if you didn’t have a Cisco DNA platform, with CMX and its Hyper-Location services, how would you actually do that? Yeah, good luck, their locator feature doesn’t work like this.

Second, if you have a mobile application that requires some priority in the network, you can set that up lickity split with APIC-EM. Maybe you want to prioritize video over Wi-Fi inside the app and you want it to be high quality. Or, maybe you just want to push a bunch of data back and forth with high performance. Whatever the reason might be, if you want to make sure that when someone goes from using their phone as a guest, and then logs into your app, that their network traffic gets first-class treatment, APIC-EM can do that for you.

Finally, let’s talk about security. Cisco DNA has a robust set of security features designed into it. One example of that is Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). Cisco ISE is easily configured to work with your Mobile Device Management software and it has an API that makes it easy to use from within your mobile application. So, if you want your application to be secure, the DNA platform and its security APIs make that possible. Below, is a diagram of what that might look like.

Picture2

Moving forward, I’ve just explained three elements of Cisco DNA, which can be utilized by a mobile application to make it more innovative, more secure or higher performance. What do all of these things have in common? They all have the high-level architecture diagram, below, in common. As you can see in the simple diagram, at the bottom of the stack is a Cisco DNA platform. Above that is the “middleware”, depicting the APIs that are part of Cisco DNA. And on top of that, is the application, which makes calls to the various APIs in order to work. Obviously, there are going to be other APIs, like customer databases, which are not part of DNA, required. But this platform, developers, is why you should check out Cisco DevNet – where you can learn all about these APIs.

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For me, mobile application development is awesome. In one of my recent blogs, written to describe how partners could accelerate innovation with Cisco DevNet, I brought up this data point: The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation says that about 40% of businesses will fail because of digital disruption by 2020. The full report is available on their web site.

Picture4

We know this digital disruption is critical. But, what does it look like? Well, the way I see it, mobile applications are the primary way digital transformation is being done. As I’ve shown in other blogs; healthcare, retail and food services are all seeing heavy digitization via mobile applications. Auto insurance companies are also modifying the way you do business with them. I heard a commercial the other day where a woman “moved a tow truck 25 miles with a couple fingers”– using the insurance company’s mobile app to get a tow. At any rate, after 35 years in the technology industry, I’m just loving what companies are doing with their digital transformations – and how mobile applications improve my life.

I’ve discussed three specific APIs built into the Cisco DNA platform, which show how the network can truly be more than just the network. I’ve also shared some data that shows why innovating for your business is going to be crucial over the next few years. And finally, I’ve proposed an idea that this digital transformation is highly likely to need a mobile app. I think that’s adequate reason to see if the Cisco DNA platform might be just what you need to make your mobile application more innovative.

If you would like to take a look at these APIs, I would like to invite you to visit Cisco DevNet. That is where you can learn about these APIs and many others, which might help you you’re your digital transformation. If you want to jump right in, you can go directly to the APIC-EM, ISE or CMX pages on DevNet.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or tweet me at: @coggerin.

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5 Comments

    AN interesting read Chris. Mobile apps are the way of the future.

    Hi Chris, for me some of the most exciting outcomes that Cisco DNA can provide are in the area of Analytics and Insights (your excellent CMX example). Leveraging the huge amount of visibility that the network has of an organisation's connected devices and applications, and transforming that raw data into actionable insights is key to helping our customers succeed in their own digital transformation. The fact that we can access all of this goodness via programmatic interfaces will lead to new innovations, many driven by our customers and partners rather than us a Cisco. For me, THAT is an exciting position to be in!

      Thanks Scott, We are developing a stack of very specific use cases, which show how people have done innovative solutions on top of various Cisco platforms and APIs. I can't wait to start showing those as follow up to this blog. The first ones will start coming out commensurate with Cisco Live Europe this month. Stop by the DevNet Zone and I would be happy to show you a couple. Chris O

    Chris, Great blog post. One of the things I like about being a Cisco Developer Partner is the end to end solution that Cisco provides. For example, in the electrical expert example, it's possible to improve the solution integrating that mobile app with Jabber Guest SDK and being able to call the expert while I walk to his/her location. Also, they way that Cisco is approaching this digital transformation is great for partners. Being able to take business decisions using APIC-EM API is very flexible for solution partners.

      Thanks Jose! We really love working with you and our great relationship.

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