Cisco DNA, SD-WAN Injected With More Automation, Security

‘These features very much excite me as a channel partner. Gone are the days of command lines and manually managing environments,’ one longtime Cisco partner says.


Cisco is building on its intent-based networking strategy with a series of software updates to give customers more advanced network segmentation, automation, and deeper visibility into IoT endpoints.

"Slow is the new broken for IT folks," Prashanth Shenoy, vice president of marketing, enterprise networks, IoT, and developer platform for Cisco, told CRN. Businesses, especially today, are prioritizing agile and resilient networks and are looking to drastically simplify as many operations as possible as employees work from anywhere, he said.

Cisco's network management dashboard, Cisco DNA Center, has been strengthened with two new software features. AI Endpoint Analytics will let Cisco DNA Center identify previously unknown endpoints at scale and then drawing from various contextual sources and AI, these endpoints can be segmented, grouped appropriately, and have policies applied, according to the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

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"More intelligence and insights let [businesses] run smarter operations, which has become even more crucial last quarter and heading into the new normal way of operating," Shenoy said.

The software updates will be critical for IoT infrastructures and customers wanting more automation baked into their environments, said Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based solution provider and Cisco partner.

"These features very much excite me as a channel partner. Gone are the days of command lines and manually managing environments," he said, noting that the updates will bring more efficiencies to end users and let them scale much more easily.

The new functionality will be available via a premier software license that can be purchased through channel partners this summer, Cisco said.

The vendor's location-based services platform, Cisco DNA Spaces, also got an upgrade with the addition of Indoor IOT Services. The new cloud-based service for WiFi-6 access points can help businesses deploy indoor IoT applications at scale because Cisco DNA Spaces can now simplify activation, configuration and management of a number of IoT devices, including Bluetooth (BLE) devices. Cisco is relying on its ecosystem of industry partners for additional services, including asset tracking, monitoring employee safety, and space utilization -- all of which are important in helping customers get back to business in a post-COVID-19 world, Shenoy said.

Cisco DNA Spaces has been a very popular and heavily-deployed solution. There's been about one trillion location updates and the platform is managing close to a million access points around the world, Shenoy said.

Indoor IOT Services will be available via an extended software license by early August, Cisco said.

Cisco also revealed an integration between its flagship Cisco SD-WAN offering, powered by Viptella, with its cloud-based secure internet gateway Cisco Umbrella. The combination, Shenoy said, is important for businesses as they move toward a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture.

"Now, partners and businesses can turn on cloud security for thousands of branch offices and do it in minutes, instead of months," he said. "The SASE platform is all about bringing cloud-native SD-WAN and security so you can enable services for all your offices."

Cisco's move to use cloud-based Umbrella to provide firewalling and secure SD-WAN at scale makes "a ton of sense," said Jason Parry, vice president of client solutions for Force 3, a Cisco Gold Partner.

"Especially in the environment we are in today, secure SD-WAN starts to become really critical in how you securely connect broad groups of people, remote offices and workers," Parry said. "Umbrella is a great, consistent platform to do that."

The Cisco SD-WAN and Cisco Umbrella combination is available today to customers via a single Cisco DNA premier license, without having to pay extra, Cisco said.

"It's a huge benefit to our partners, as well as our customers, to have a comprehensive solution that they can provide to their end customers with the best-in-class security and SD-WAN," Shenoy said.

Cisco Live, originally scheduled for this week, was postponed amid worldwide outcry over the death of George Floyd and resulting protests. Cisco said the virtual event will be held later this month.