Cisco Live is the annual event that network professionals look forward to for gaining insights that their enterprises need to ensure their digital business flourishes.
One of the most exciting and most energetic section of Cisco Live is the World of Solutions, which is the place for any attendee to get insights into what Cisco and its partners are innovating. The World of Solutions at Cisco Live has exciting sections, including Investment Village, Collaboration Village, Security Village, ThinkTank Theater, Cisco Campus, Enterprise and Mobility Village, and Innovation Theatre and Solutions Showcase. This place provides a unique opportunity to explore the partner ecosystem, find answers to ongoing network challenges, and interact with product development engineers.
This year, the top three highlights of the World of Solutions were:
- Cisco Campus: It showcased Cisco’s solutions, products, services, and technologies. It provided an excellent opportunity for one-on-one discussions and interactive activities
- DevNet Zone: It offered opportunities for DevNet developers to get hands-on with every element of the DevNet developer program
- Enterprise Network and Mobility Village: It presented an excellent opportunity for partners to showcase their development on Cisco platforms and the value they are bringing to the entire ecosystem
Thanks to the pace at which IoT is being implemented, Gartner predicts 20 billion “connected” devices by 2020. IoT networks bring with them a lot of issues on the table from the networking perspective. These include the scale of management, security, interop, and standardization.
To cater to the growing needs of IoT, among other things, Cisco launched the Digital Network Architecture (DNA) last year. Since then, DNA has become the center of Cisco’s strategy of intent-based networking because of its automation, assurance excellence, and policy-based segmentation capabilities which are critical for any enterprise network today.
It is evident that Cisco is going to ramp up its development but from the variety of solutions being developed in its ecosystem, the adoption of DNA-C is also going to be exponential. "DNA Center as a platform really opens up the ability for our partners to build incremental intellectual property,” Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said in an interview. "Providing a set of APIs that customers and partners can then write their own applications that take advantage of the information we can extract from the network, or dynamically can initiate a provisioning activity inside the network, this is hugely different than anything we've ever done before."
As per Sachin Gupta, senior vice president of product management for enterprise networking at Cisco: “We’re going to open the platform up and expose all the APIs so an entire new ecosystem can build on top of the network.”
Let me try to decode what this announcement means to a partner like HCL.
For Cisco, the concept of intent-based networking was born as early as the launch of ACI in 2013. In ACI, applications tell what datacentre resources they need, who will access them, who will not access them, etc. With ACI, the story is not just restricted to the on-premise datacentre; this continued in their products like Cisco Cloud Center and Tetration. With DNA-C, the company has attempted to bring the strategy of ‘intent-based networking’ to campus branch and remote office.
This is an excellent shift in Cisco’s strategy from generating revenue by selling hardware to working closely with partners to ensure that Cisco hardware and partner apps give the best value to the end customer.
For partners like HCL, there is an opportunity to consume APIs as well as connectors and adaptors to enable integrations with entities that are most common in any enterprise network. The common examples are ITSM tools, element monitoring tools, IP address management tools, visibility tools, security tools, etc. HCL has already developed a connector that can help an existing customer to utilize the power of DNA-C even if it has a heterogeneous network like Juniper and HPE.
What lies ahead is to make these apps available on Cisco DNA-C app store. The end customer can consume this app directly with little friction. Second, HCL can consume other apps in this ecosystem, bundle those with homegrown apps and create an end-to-end story that will bring greater value to our customers.
While Robbins is very positive about the Catalyst 9000 series and mentioned 5800+ new customers in a year, HCL’s way of looking at intent-based networking is more holistic. Enterprise networks are no longer going to be hardware-defined and innovations in software can bring unique differentiation. In line with this, we have developed a network automation framework called NetBOT.
Enterprise networks are no longer going to be “hardware defined” and innovations in software can bring unique differentiation. In line with this, we have developed a network automation framework called NetBOT.
We have already deployed NetBOT for Cisco devices using APIC-EM. As a next step, we developed a model where we developed functionality on top of Cisco DNA-C to support heterogeneous environments (Cisco, Juniper, HPE, etc.) and “third-party configuration push” use case using it as the underlying platform. Our ability to control third-party devices from DNA-C opens up areas like EasyQos on a heterogeneous network, which is unavailable currently.
Cisco had put up a DevNet area at Cisco Live where visitors could experience the ease of using Meraki APIs and attempt use cases like provisioning. While this presented an excellent opportunity for participants to win some fancy prizes, making Cisco Live memorable, this also ensured that the partner’s vision is in line with each other.
Finally, Cisco CCIE is and will always remain relevant for anyone who aspires to be in the networking industry. I am always happy to see those CCIE tags attached below my name, but I wish to see one more tag indicating the excellent DevNet work done by a network engineer.