Cloud computing, more networked devices through the Internet of Things (IoT) and higher security risks – the demands on corporate networks are increasing. Network automation is the solution. To deliver this, Cisco relies on Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) as the basis for Intent Based Networking (IBN). This software-controlled network architecture simplifies and automates IT processes, ensures high security, and develops continuously via machine learning.
IT teams face various challenges when it comes to networking: they have to cope with the increasing number of networked mobile and IoT devices, deal with rapidly growing data volumes and various cloud scenarios – and all this with stagnating IT budgets and a lack of qualified specialists. In addition, security risks are on the rise due to increasing attacks by cyber criminals. In short: networks are becoming more complex and the administrative effort is increasing. As a result, many IT teams are reaching their limits when it comes to managing and controlling networks, especially since many processes are still run manually.
This can be remedied through extensive automation of network management. To achieve this, Cisco has singled out Digital Network Architecture (DNA) to provide the basis for Intent Based Networking (IBN). It records the intent of the administrator, who defines what the network should do. The administrator’s requirements may relate to application service quality, security policies, compliance requirements, operational processes and other business objectives. With the help of automation and machine learning, the IBN implements the desired state of the network, monitors it continuously, alerts the administrator in the case of problems or solves them itself. You can read more about IBN here in our blog post.
Cisco DNA Center
The Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) is an open, software-based architecture that brings together virtualisation, data analysis and security in enterprise networks. The DNA Center is the control center and focal point of digital network architecture. This management portal is used to administer the network, the branch offices and the WAN. Administrators can install and configure any network devices within minutes. In the DNA Center, they determine how the network should be designed, determine the basic parameters of the network design and set the guidelines for access or communication permissions, quality of service, etc.
Cisco DNA Center then automatically distributes and activates the specified functions, configurations and software. This allows daily tasks such as configuration, resource provisioning and troubleshooting to be automated. This is the only way for companies to manage the constantly growing number of networked devices.
Assurance: Monitoring and fast troubleshooting
Cisco DNA’s second important pillar is its assurance capabilities for monitoring network devices and applications in real time and quickly correcting errors – with the help of AI and machine learning. For this purpose, Cisco DNA Center actively and passively collects data from all network components as well as from integrated systems such as the Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) or external solutions. Using this information, the system finally calculates the Health Score of the network, the end devices and users, and the applications. For example, the network recognises which data is used by whom, at what time, where and in which way.
Machine learning is also used in the analysis of network behaviour to anticipate potential problems that might occur in the future (predictive analytics). Cisco DNA correlates user, device, and application data and provides insight into business processes. This allows proactive detection of anomalies, bottlenecks and performance losses within the network along with their causes. Companies can use it to continuously check whether the network is working as intended and – also thanks to AI technologies – to quickly solve problems. The constant monitoring of network performance ensures that business requirements are met.
Advantages of Cisco DNA
Cisco DNA offers a number of advantages:
• Comprehensive automation: Network administrators must be able to manage an increasing number of users, devices and locations, and scale their networks quickly and easily. Cisco DNA maps these processes automatically. As changes can be centrally configured and automatically transferred to the corresponding network areas, for example, the manual effort involved in network management is minimised. Centralised management also simplifies the delivery and availability of network services.
• Transparency through permanent monitoring: With Cisco DNA, companies maintain an overview of what is happening in their network at all times. This comprehensive view opens up detailed insights into user behaviour, the devices and the applications used. Since the status of the network is permanently analysed and monitored, problems can be detected quickly and network failures avoided.
• Scalability: Companies can supply network services across platforms and locations within minutes. Therefore, it is possible to scale systems and applications flexibly, as required, and to implement new business requirements more quickly. Cisco DNA prepares the network for new functions and adaptation to digital developments. Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches provide companies with purpose-built programmable platforms with full fabric control for security, mobility, IoT, and the cloud.
• Security and compliance: Network visibility also makes it easier to identify, contain and defend against threats. Cisco DNA segregates devices into user groups, meaning that the IP address is no longer the deciding factor, but the identity and permissions of the user. Because the policies applied here determine who or what can access the corporate network, entire groups of users and devices are protected. Suspicious activity is even detected in encrypted data traffic.
• AI-supported troubleshooting: With machine learning and automation, the network is able to respond quickly to potential performance issues and troubleshoot problems.