Partners: Customers Are Buying Into Cisco's New DNA Architecture

Channel partners and Cisco executives say the company's new potentially game-changing Digital Network Architecture (DNA) is already generating sales and changing how customers view and purchase networking products in the digital age.

More than 11,000 Cisco customers have already adopted DNA through Cisco ONE Software, representing 45 percent of Fortune 500 companies, according to Prashanth Shenoy, senior marketing director of Cisco's enterprise solutions. Cisco's DNA controller – the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) – has seen nearly 200 deployments in production since launching in September 2015.

"We're selling quite a lot of DNA," said David Chandler, practice manager of Enterprise Network Solutions at World Wide Technology, a top Cisco solution provider that's ranked No. 12 on the CRN Solution Provider 500. "If you look at one of the foundation elements of DNA, with APIC-EM and the applications on top of it, it's allowing customers to really consume new technologies a lot faster and consume more complex technologies a lot faster."

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"DNA is definitely selling in the market," said Mark Melvin, CTO of ePlus Technology, a Herndon, Va.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner, ranked No. 34 on CRN's SP500. "It's a new concept for a number of customers, but it's resonating. It really makes sense to have systems that are integrated and talking to each other and can observe behaviors in the infrastructure as a whole."

Cisco touts DNA as an open, software-driven, service-centric architecture containing automation, virtualization, analytics, security, managed services and open APIs that is the networking giant's answer to enabling digital businesses.

DNA received a shot in the arm on Monday at Cisco Live in Las Vegas as Cisco unveiled several new security tools being added to the architecture and introduced a new Network Readiness Model for partners and customers to help them navigate and adopt DNA. The model identifies the network readiness of a customer's environment to become a digital organization, then builds out a plan and recommended steps towards transforming their network.

Cisco is adding new Stealthwatch threat detection technology to DNA and beefing up security capabilities inside Cisco Meraki MX and its Integrated Services Routers (ISR).

"The more we talk about DNA and think about security from an architectural perspective, the more it's resonating with our customers," said Melvin. "This will definitely help that conversation."

DNA is simplifying how customers can deploy, manage and consume the network, say partners. For example, APIC-EM and Cisco's Intelligent WAN application (IWAN) together inside DNA cuts down deployment and configuration time for businesses. What previously took two to three weeks to get up and running, now only takes a day or two, said Chandler.

"So DNA really is facilitating the consumption of the services that are available inside the operating system and making things easier to integrate and also allows customers to do more around the lifecycle of their devices," said Chandler.

Jason Gallo, Global Director of Cisco's Partner Business Development for software and collaboration, said DNA is helping partners move from a hardware-centric way of building, managing and deploying solutions to a software-centric, programmable sales model as Cisco moves towards a software monetization model.

"Monetizing DNA through Cisco ONE and the ability to sell it like software, is providing a lot of opportunities for partners as they look to monetize the network with a software-led model," said Gallo, in an interview with CRN.

Gallo says the new security additions bridge the network and security conversations so partners can now "build a security strategy across their customer's entire infrastructure" with the ability to wrap profitable advisory and management services around DNA.

"Cisco is definitely heading in the right direction by introducing DNA and bundling those concepts and doing continual releases of additional features under the DNA banner," said Chandler. "They're pivoting from being a hardware reseller and starting to use the knowledge around software to advance themselves in this new market."