Cisco Launches New Digital Architecture That Will 'Change The DNA Of The Channel'

Cisco is changing its DNA from a hardware company to a software, service-centric leader with the launch of its new Digital Network Architecture on Wednesday, setting the stage for a new enterprise networking sales motion for its 70,000 channel partners.

"For Cisco, who had really a consistent approach for networking for the better part of 25 years or longer, this is a departure from a hardware-centric model," said Brian Ortbals, vice president of Advanced Technology at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner ranked No. 11 in CRN's 2015 Solution Provider 500 list. "This is going to create such huge services opportunity for partners, and it's going to reinforce the value of Cisco software proposition and leadership in that space."

Robert Soderbery, senior vice president of Cisco's Enterprise Products and Solutions, said every Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) will eventually become an expert at selling the new digital architecture.

[Related: CRN's Cisco Partner Summit 2016 Coverage]

Sponsored post

"We are absolutely going to change the DNA of the channel," said Soderbery, in an interview with CRN.

Digital Network Architecture (DNA) is an open, software-driven, service-centric solution based on automation, virtualization, analytics, managed services and open APIs that is aimed at enabling digital business. DNA is delivered within the Cisco One Software family and includes a new automation platform and applications, an array of cloud-based management services, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) targeting the enterprise.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant has been lecturing for years about digitization and businesses transitioning to the digital age. DNA appears to be Cisco's answer to digitization and shedding the notion that Cisco is still a hardware-centric company, according to WWT's Ortbals.

With DNA, Ortbals said, Cisco has recognized what customers are demanding in the market.

"Customers are looking for new methods to be able to create simplicity in management to deliver services more quickly, to create more automation and ultimately one of the best upsides with the overall model is the ability to gain insight and manage more readily the security compliance of an environment," said Ortbals.

DNA also opens the door for new opportunities involving the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market, which WWT is having more conversations about in 2016, he said.

"IoT creates new network traffic demand and new opportunities to do analytics at the edge, and the legacy model is not [conducive] to those types of customer requirements today, at least not easily. So they're allowing for new technologies to help provide solutions to those changing customer requirements," Ortbals said.

New technology inside DNA unveiled at Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego on Wednesday includes an automation platform, APIC-EM, which consists of a new version of Cisco's enterprise controller retooled for greater scale and resiliency, with a broad set of network services and device support. The platform has been deployed in more than 160 customer environments running up to 4,000 devices from a single instance, according to Cisco.

The digital architecture also consists of policy services including an enhanced Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) and a new Easy Quality of Service (QoS) that enables the network to update QoS settings consistently across the network in real time. Another service is Plug and Play, a cloud-based deployment service that sits on routers and switches talking directly to the network controller, which reduces deployment time from weeks to days, according to Soderbery.

"We believe automation and APIC-EM is so compelling, we want every customer and ever partner to take advantage of it. So we're distributing that completely free -- the platform and the base automation services are free ," said Soderbery.

Cisco also revealed Enterprise NFV, which decouples hardware from software. Cisco's NFV provides a full software stack including the virtualization infrastructure software, the virtualized network functions (VNFs) and orchestration services to enable branch office service virtualization. The infrastructure software can be hosted on Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) and eventually for x86 hardware. VNFs include routing, firewall, WAN optimization and wireless LAN services, and will be expanded to additional Cisco and third-party VNFs.

"Being able to virtualize your functions and run them in the cloud or on industry-standard hardware platforms has really been a service provider conversation -- we're now making it an enterprise conversation," said Soderbery. "Its an enterprise NFV as a package solution for enterprises that want of take advantage of NFV."

The final new technology launched around DNA is CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences) Cloud, a cloud-based management service for Cisco wireless infrastructures that allows customers to take advantage of location and presence analytics to provide businesses with insights and personalized engagement.

Nirav Sheth, senior director for Cisco's Americas Partner Organization, said DNA is giving channel partners the tools to become a digital leader for customers and a way to accelerate an install-based refresh. He said Cisco is also driving closer alignment between its internal sales teams and partners around DNA.

"Looking holistically, it's an opportunity for our partners to go deeper with their customers, to have more upfront professional services, there's recurring revenue opportunities and an opportunity for our partners to accelerate because they're going to be in lockstep with their Cisco sales team," said Sheth, in an interview with CRN.

DNA also complements Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology by extending the policy-driven approach and software strategy throughout the entire network -- from the campus to the branch, wired to wireless, and the core to the edge, said Soderbery.

Worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will grow to $2.1 trillion in 2019, with a CAGR of 17 percent, according to a recent report by market researcher IDC. Cisco plans to put its channel community on the front end of the transformation with DNA, said Soderbery.

"Partners are moving to the line of business or the digital conversation. … They're not just technology providers, but solution providers for managed services," said Soderbery. "I can't imagine anyone being able to compete with us."

Cisco is changing its certification strategy to have more focus around DNA in order to make every CCIE and CCNA a software specialist. DNA will be included in many Cisco incentive programs including VIP (Value Incentive Program), according to the company.

"We fully expect that every single partner driving enterprise networking is going to be on this DNA journey with us," said Sheth.