Cisco Opens Up DNA Center to Tech Partners, Developers

At Cisco Live, company officials said adding APIs and adapters to DNA Center makes the foundation of its intent-based networking strategy into a platform.

Cisco

ORLANDO, Fla.—Cisco Systems officials are opening up the company’s DNA Center to allow partners and developers to build applications and solutions atop the network management software and customers to manage third-party networking systems from competitors like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks.

The evolution of DNA Center is the company’s latest step in building its intent-based networking initiative into a programmable and open platform that can stretch from the network edge through the data center and branch offices and out into the cloud. Making the network open and API-driven will give more than 500,000 developers and 60,000 partners a platform on which to develop solutions.

David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of networking and security at Cisco, announced the latest version of DNA Center June 12 during his second-day keynote at Cisco Live 2018 here. Goeckeler said the aim is to essentially enable the network to run like software, making it open and easily programmable.

“The network now has APIs,” he said. “The network is now programmable. The network has code.”

The need for a more open and easily programmable network comes as enterprises are dealing with rapid changes, including the growth in the number of mobile devices being used, the increasingly distributed nature of computing and applications, and the rise of the cloud. Also, new workloads like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics are increasing the demand for faster and more responsive networks.

Cisco officials introduced its intent-based network strategy—called the Network Intuitive—last year. It was the latest step by the vendor to address the trend toward network virtualization and followed the launch over the past several years of such technologies as the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and the expansion of the effort to the branch office, the internet of things (IoT) and the cloud.

The goal is to create software-based networks that can determine the intent of network administrators, translate those intentions into policies and configure systems to meet the intent. Earlier this year, Cisco added software-based assurance capabilities to ensure the network is meeting the business intentions and that problems are being addressed.

Intent-based networking is not purely a Cisco technology; other vendors like Juniper Networks, Huawei Technologies and Apstra are pursuing similar initiatives. By opening up DNA Center to third parties, Cisco is expanding the innovation around its efforts and building a broad ecosystem to support it.

The APIs, network and domain adapters, and third-party software development kits (SDKs) being added to DNA Center address a broad range of network functions, from application policy and wireless provisioning to topology, security and network inventory. Already, 15 vendors have developed solutions, including IBM, Wipro, Presidio and Logicalis.

Accenture has leveraged ServiceNow to build a problem ticket resolution solution on top of DNA Center that can save companies time and money, reduce errors and ensure compliance. Jack Sepple, senior managing director and corporate technology of operations and Accenture Cloud, took the stage with Goeckeler, saying that such solutions were as much about innovation as they were about simply saving money.

Still, customers will see an 80 to 90 percent reduction in effort in dealing with problem tickets, Sepple said.

Cisco is also making it easier for developers in its DevNet community to leverage the open DNA Center platform. That includes the DevNet DNA Developer Center, which provides the APIs and other tools as well as such resources as use cases and learning materials to developers to make it easier to create applications and integrations, according to Susie Wee, vice president and CTO of DevNet.

In addition, the vendor introduced the DevNet Code Exchange, where developers can access sample code, adapters, tools and SDKs on GitHub that are written by both Cisco engineers and the DevNet community. DevNet Ecosystem Exchange is an online portal where developers can find or share applications and solutions that are built for Cisco platforms. It contains more than 1,300 solutions.

Wee said that since she founded DevNet four years ago, the community has swelled to more than 500,000 developers. It was pulled together in anticipation of the drive toward software-defined networks.

“The program was created because we knew the network was going to have APIs, because we knew the network was going to be programmable,” Wee said during the keynote address. “We knew it because we were working on it.”

The new capabilities in DNA Center will be available in the summer through existing subscription offers. The new DevNet programs are available now.