What is Cisco DNA (Digital Network Architecture)

By | March 25, 2021

Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) is Cisco’s architecture for enterprise networks – across the campus, branch, WAN, and extended enterprise. It provides an open, extensible, and software-driven approach that makes the network simpler to manage and more agile and responsive to business needs. Cisco DNA is an intelligent system that encompasses policy, automation, analytics, and open platform capabilities to deliver on all required aspects of an intent-based network.

Cisco DNA

Why should IT leaders adopt Cisco DNA?

Cisco DNA provides an extensible, strategic platform that allows IT to streamline operations, reduce costs, detect and contain threats, and continuously align the network to business needs.

Built upon an open, intent-based networking model, it is constantly learning, adapting, and protecting to make sure applications, users, and devices receive the service they need. As an extensible open platform, it offers integration with other IT and technology domains such as data center and security, support for multivendor networks, and the investment protection expected of a strategic platform.

How does Cisco DNA relate to intent-based networking?

Cisco DNA is how Cisco delivers intent-based networking across the campus, branch, WAN, and extended enterprise. Cisco defines intent-based networking as “a network that continuously aligns to business intent.” It does this by capturing and translating the intent your organization has for your network, then activating the intent, enforcing it, and ensuring that your network is operating as intended. Cisco DNA realizes the promise of intent-based networking.

What is the difference between Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Cisco DNA? How do they relate to each other?

Cisco DNA allows IT to move beyond SDN and transcend the automation-focused network technologies that make up SDN. Cisco DNA uses a holistic systems approach to align the network to business intent. This approach combines automation with translation, policy, and assurance capabilities.

Through its intent-based networking principles, Cisco DNA provides a way to make network services effective and agile as well as easy to use in an enterprise architecture journey to digital transformation. It is an architecture that includes ready-to-use applications as well as easily consumable APIs.

Why should organizations build their networks using Cisco DNA-ready solutions?

Organizations looking to digitize their business will need to evolve to a network that operates at digital speed:

  • Speed for business data and insights that provide real-time and historical information for better decision making or for building new business models.
  • Speed for IT by simplifying the network and automating processes, enabling IT to quickly adapt to new business requirements while meeting service-level agreements.
  • Speed for security by quickly identifying threats through real-time networkwide visibility and rapid threat containment, while achieving sustainable compliance.
  • Speed for innovation by allowing IT teams to integrate with other IT systems or develop customized code that further boosts their network’s agility to keep pace with business initiatives.

By designing a network using Cisco DNA-ready solutions, customers can leverage the power of the network to streamline operations, reduce costs, detect and contain threats, and continuously align the network to business needs.

What makes the Cisco DNA security approach different from traditional perimeter-based security?

In the past, security has typically been predicated upon a perimeter defense composed of technologies such as firewalls, intrusion detection, VPN, and access control. As threats become more prevalent in the increasing number and diversity of attached endpoints, this model becomes more difficult to defend unless you have advanced security on every network port to both see and control every activity on the network.

The Cisco DNA approach enhances your ability to see every communication on the network and cloud using the NetFlow data created by network devices. This data is analyzed to detect and identify threats using solutions such as Cisco Stealthwatch ®, Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE), and Cisco Umbrella cloud-based security.

Cisco DNA also allows IT to take instant action by directing Cisco TrustSec to rapidly contain a threat right from the Stealthwatch management console. The result is an integrated solution with visibility and control for virtually every communication, which could be missed with a traditional perimeter security approach.

How does Cisco DNA enable easy adoption of Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT adds new responsibility for network managers who, in addition to keeping people’s computers online and secure, are now also responsible for maintaining a broad set of devices.

Cisco DNA helps IT manage the changing extent of networks and expand the benefits of intent-based networking to IoT in three ways:

  • Security: Automatically recognize and classify devices as they connect to the network by using Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) that recognizes commonly used industrial and building devices.
  • Scale: Cisco SD-Access fabric can be extended to Operations Technology (OT), connecting industrial-grade network equipment typically used in outdoor environments and simplifying their deployment at scale.
  • Insights: Allows you to locate and track assets and act on notifications sent from sensors.

How does Cisco DNA accelerate digital transformation?

Cisco has reimagined the network to become open, extensible, and software driven through programmability, 360-degree service extensibility, and virtualization.

This allows IT to quickly adapt to the ever-changing demands of business with innovative services that provide:

  • Intent-based policies: Translate business intent into policies that govern access control, application delivery, and various network functions such as creation of virtual networks.
  • Insights and actions: Understand user behavior and application performance to make better business decisions and support new experiences.
  • Automation and assurance: Dynamically adapt policy across the entire network, monitor service levels, and automatically adjust to the demands of digitization.
  • Security and compliance: Gain a strategic vantage point into risk and threats by using the network as a sensor and enforcer to quickly identify and mitigate threats.
  • Distributed data and applications: Optimize user experience as they access applications that increasingly reside in public and private clouds with path optimization and application prioritization.

What is the role of Cisco DNA Center within Cisco DNA?

Cisco DNA Center is the central dashboard for the management, automation, and assurance of your Cisco DNA network. It provides an intuitive and simple overview of network health and clear drill-down menus for quickly identifying and remediating issues. It is also the control point for all automation, orchestration, assurance, and analytics functions provided by Cisco DNA.

What is Cisco DNA Spaces?

Cisco DNA Spaces simplifies how location services are consumed by bringing all Cisco location solutions together onto a single cloud platform. Cisco DNA Spaces synthesizes location data across your properties and wireless investments to deliver location-based services at scale.

Is Cisco DNA Spaces integrated into Cisco DNA Center?

Cisco DNA Spaces provides insights into the behavior of people and things in physical spaces. The two solutions are not currently integrated.

However, when Cisco DNA Spaces identifies a connectivity issue in Business Insights, Cisco DNA Center users can then link to Cisco DNA Center to analyze potential root causes.

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