Cisco Engineers Enterprise Genome for Software

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Digital Network Architecture (DNA) maps network sequence to virtualization, ease of operations

 SAN DIEGO – Cisco this week introduced a software-driven architecture designed to extend policy throughout an enterprise wired and wireless network, from branch to edge to core.

Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) is a blueprint for building an enterprise network with virtualization, automation, analytics, cloud service management and programmability for ease of operation and management. It is delivered through Cisco ONE software licensing on a variety of Cisco platforms, and is anchored by the company’s APIC-Enterprise Module SDN controller, which has been slow to emerge from development and trials.

Despite APIC-EM’s delays, Cisco says it has over 100 customer deployments of the enterprise SDN, and that a single APIC-EM instance can support up to 4,000 devices. DNA was announced at the Cisco Partner Summit here.

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As customers digitize their business operations "it's imperative to start this transition" to the DNA architecture, says Rob Soderbery, Cisco senior vice president of Enterprise Products and Solutions.

The DNA services controlled and orchestrated by APIC-EM include Cisco Plug and Play automation software and Easy Quality-of-Service. Plug and Play is agent software on Cisco routers intended to remove the need for any staging for pre-configuration or truck roll-outs to remote locations to reduce deployment time and cost.

EasyQoS enables dynamic updating of network-wide QoS settings based on application policy so applications are appropriately prioritized.

Another DNA strand is the Intelligent WAN Automation Services application. This software automates deployment and management of Cisco ISR and ASR routers that comprise its IWAN product portfolio. Cisco says IT departments can configure and deploy a branch office network, with application prioritization, path selection and caching, in 10 mouse clicks with IWAN Automation Services.

For virtualization, DNA includes Evolved IOS-XE and Enterprise NFV. Evolved IOS-XE is a network operating system optimized for programmability, controller-based automation and serviceability. It includes APIs for third party application development, software-defined management, application hosting, edge computing, and abstraction from the physical hardware to enable virtualization.

Included in the operating system is Enterprise NFV, a software stack that includes virtualized network functions for routing, firewall, WAN optimization and WLAN controller, and orchestration. It enables branch office service virtualization on a customized Cisco hardware platform – like an ISR branch router – a server or any x86 platform.

Evolved IOS-XE runs on Cisco Catalyst 3850/3650 switches and ASR 1000 and ISR 4000 routers, and will be expanded across the enterprise network portfolio, Cisco says.

Lastly, DNA includes a cloud service management application called CMX Cloud. CMX Cloud provides location and presence information from Cisco wireless infrastructure for insight into customer behavior that can be used for personalized engagement. It can also be used for Wi-Fi onboarding, Cisco says.

CMX Cloud provides a Meraki-like experience for enterprise users of Cisco's wireless LAN products, Soderbery says. Meraki is a provider of cloud-based WLAN management Cisco acquired for $1.2 billion in 2012.

Customers can blend Meraki services with CMX Cloud through DNA's programmatic interfaces, Soderbery says.

APIC-EM, Plug and Play and Easy QoS are available now at no additional cost for customers with Cisco SmartNet Total Care or partner support services. Intelligent WAN App is provided through Cisco ONE Foundation software and is also available now.

Enterprise NFV will be provided through the Cisco ONE WAN suite as an annual subscription. It is in controlled availability through the first half of the year.

Cisco ONE Foundation offers list pricing starts at $1,200 for WAN and $200 for Access. CMX Cloud will be available as an annual subscription through the Cisco ONE Wireless software suite, starting at $250. A free 60-day trial offer is currently available in the US, and coming soon to other countries.

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