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Cisco DNA Center Platform Solution Overview

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Updated:December 5, 2019

Save up to 25% with a Cisco DNA Starter Kit bundle. You'll get a Cisco DNA Center appliance plus eligible Catalyst switches and access points.

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Updated:December 5, 2019


The network is open for business – with an open platform for intent-based networking that provides 360-degree extensibility.

In today’s world, the network connects everything. It has the potential to constantly adapt, protect, and inform across all IT and business processes. But how?

Only with an intent-based network. By capturing business intent, and activating and assuring it networkwide, you can bridge the gap between what your business needs and what your network delivers. At all times. But only if it’s based on an open platform.

Cisco DNA Center is a complete network automation and assurance solution and is the dashboard for control and management of Cisco’s intent-based networking system, Cisco DNA. Using the Cisco DNA network controller and APIs, Cisco DNA Center provides an open and extensible platform. It provides broad support for external applications and systems to exchange data and intelligence and to build upon Cisco DNA Center’s native policy, automation, and analytics functions. Using these open platform capabilities, organizations can make sure that the network is continuously aligned to IT and business priorities.

With new software subscription offers to choose from – Cisco DNA Premier, Cisco DNA Advantage, and Cisco DNA Essentials—you can benefit from all these open platform innovations today, and all the new possibilities this open platform will deliver in the future.

Benefits of Cisco DNA Center open platform capabilities

     Bridge business and IT: Continuously align the network to IT and business applications via open interfaces

     Streamline operations: Integrate with other IT and network systems and processes to remove operational bottlenecks

     Manage heterogeneous networks: Simplify the monitoring and management of third-party vendor network devices

     Unlock boundless possibilities: Continue to build IT and business innovation, based on an open platform and vibrant ecosystem

An open platform is a requirement for intent-based networking

To realize the full potential of intent-based networking, you need an open, controller-led platform that can exchange information and intelligence with applications and systems outside of the network domain. Here are a few reasons why:

     Intent needs to be communicated to the intent-based network controller in order for it to be acted upon networkwide. This can be done by IT teams manually setting up policies. But a more effective way is for the external IT and business applications and systems to communicate their intent programmatically via intent APIs. That way the applications can take full advantage of the network resources.

     For best results, intent needs to be applied and maintained across multiple technology domains. The exchange of policy and assurance information allows for the consistent deployment of intent from client to workload, and from anywhere to anywhere.

     To be most efficient, an intent-based network needs to communicate beyond its own operational domain, with other domains, such as IT Service Management (ITSM), IP Address Management (IPAM), security operations, and workplace resources. These interactions will be most efficient and error-free when the network integrates with these systems.

     While IT teams can choose to deploy their intent-based network with a single vendor for reasons of simplicity, a consistent feature set, and more robust interoperability, very often networks encompass heterogeneous devices that need to be supported by the intent-based networking system. So an intent-based network controller needs to offer tools that allow for the management of third-party network vendor devices.

Cisco DNA Center open platform capabilities

Cisco DNA Center is extending its core policy, automation, and analytics capabilities to external applications, systems, and processes via a broad set of APIs, Software Development Kits (SDKs), and adapters.

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Figure 1.       

The Cisco DNA Center open platform provides 360-degree extensibility

The Cisco DNA Center open platform for intent-based networking provides 360-degree extensibility across multiple components, including:

     Intent-based APIs leverage the controller to enable business and IT applications to deliver intent to the network and to reap network analytics and insights for IT and business innovation. These enable APIs that allow Cisco DNA Center to receive input from a variety of sources, both internal to IT and from line-of-business applications, related to application policy, provisioning, software image management, and assurance.

Through open interfaces, IT can better align the needs of business applications such as Oracle, Microsoft Exchange, and Salesforce.com, and IT applications such as billing and compliance, to help ensure that each is getting the appropriate resources from the network.

These APIs also allow Cisco DNA Center to share network insights that can provide important intelligence related to business and IT operations, security, compliance, and the worker and customer experience.

     Process adapters, built on integration APIs that allow integration with other IT and network systems to streamline IT operations and processes. Process adapters provide a set of integrations with specific service types, such as ITSM, IPAM, and reporting systems.

These adapters can be customized for use in specific use cases or with specific system vendors, so that ITSM systems such as ServiceNow, IPAM systems such as InfoBlox, and reporting systems such as Tableau can be tightly integrated to streamline workflows between these systems and Cisco DNA Center.

     Domain adapters, built on integration APIs, that allow integration with other infrastructure domains such as data center, WAN, and security to deliver a consistent intent-based infrastructure across the entire IT environment.

Domain adapters provide integrations with other network domain controllers, data center domain controllers, security systems, etc. The first domains to be integrated with Cisco DNA Center are the Cisco® Meraki® dashboard and Cisco Stealthwatch® security analytics system.

     SDKs that allow management to be extended to third-party vendors’ network devices to offer support for diverse environments.

These southbound SDKs allow for the creation of device packs that allow Cisco DNA Center to recognize and manage previously unknown devices. In their first iteration these SDKs support level 1 operations such as discovery, inventory, topology, availability and health scores.

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These Cisco DNA Center Platform capabilities are available to all IT organizations that have deployed Cisco DNA Center with the Cisco DNA Essentials, Cisco DNA Advantage, or Cisco DNA Premier software subscription. IT teams can build the skill set to develop their own integrations with other applications and processes using developer tools, or they can work with their partners – Value-Added Resellers (VARs), Systems Integrators (SIs), or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) – or with Cisco Services to help them create customized integrations.

Cisco partners and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can access the Cisco DNA Center API catalog and other resources that will enable them to build customized solutions via the resource center on DevNet, Cisco’s developer network.

Service providers and MSPs can also use the platform capabilities to simplify the deployment and management of networks for their enterprise customers.

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Figure 2.       

Open platform capabilities supported by Cisco DNA Center

Cisco partner use cases

Several Cisco partners have started building innovative solutions on the Cisco DNA Center open platform to better enable their customers’ IT teams. These partners have integrated across a broad set of APIs, adapters, and SDKs to deliver customer value that was never available previously. Learn more about these solutions on the Cisco DNA Center Platform on DevNet hub: developer.cisco.com/dnacenter.

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Figure 3.       

Cisco DNA Center Platform example partner solutions

Getting started

Get started with delivering additional value to your customers by developing customized integrations and developments through Cisco DNA Center’s open platform capabilities. To take the first steps, get acquainted with the Cisco DNA Center Platform on DevNet resource center, which offers access to training, sandboxes, sample code, use cases, and much more.

Cisco DNA Center Platform capabilities are delivered through three software subscription offers: Cisco DNA Premier, which is SD-Access and Assurance ready; Cisco DNA Advantage, which is SD-Access and Assurance capable; and Cisco DNA Essentials for basic monitoring and automation. The most value-rich offer, Cisco DNA Premier, delivers policy-based automation with SD-Access, Cisco DNA Assurance, and enhanced security. Customers can enable all Cisco DNA use cases with Cisco DNA Premier.

You can start your journey today to an intent-based network on our current portfolio of network equipment and then continue to adopt network innovations in the months and years ahead through the power of software. Get software details.

Cisco services

IT organizations can accelerate the journey to intent-based networking with Cisco Services at all stages of the network lifecycle. In addition to offering a full portfolio of services that help IT plan, design, deploy, and operate their intent-based networking environments, Cisco Services enables customers to build on the Cisco DNA Center open platform capabilities. Together with Cisco partners, the Cisco DNA Center Advise and Implement Service can help you accelerate and secure your deployment of Cisco DNA Center and integrate it with your other IT and business applications, systems, and processes.

View all services.

Cisco DNA promotions

Going digital has never been easier. Check out the latest promotions to help you get started on your journey to a digital-ready network. Learn more.

Cisco Capital

Flexible payment solutions to help you achieve your objectives

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Why Cisco?

You need a network that is constantly learning. Constantly adapting. Constantly protecting. This is the future of networking.

With our deep understanding of technology and relationships with IT, Cisco can help bring your IT and the boardroom together to work effectively toward better outcomes for IT and the business. With Cisco DNA, we can help you create revenue opportunities, lower costs, reduce risks, and achieve regulatory compliance. And we can help you simplify your network operations and accelerate your network’s response to changing IT and business needs.

Together with our partners, we help you innovate, manage market transitions, and turn technology into business advantage.

Next steps

For more information, visit the Cisco DNA Center website at:


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