Value Proposition of Cisco DNA … Part 1

In this Blog (First one in Cisco DNA); I would like to share some of the Value Proposition offered by brand new Cisco Solution for Enterprise industry, i.e. Cisco DNA (Digital Network Architecture).

Last week; my few colleagues and I were discussing over a cup of Tea (In India also known as “Chai Pe Charcha”), and suddenly This topic popped up; All of us started talking about this technology :- one said, this might be another Marketing/technology Jargon and does not help much in the real world. Blah…Blah…Blah.

Coincidentally I don’t agree with their thoughts & said, there must be something interesting with this product/technology because the whole Enterprise industry is shifting towards it. If most of the companies are adopting and doing pilot installation or early field trials, in that case, It must be solving some purpose. Therefore, I decided to do some research on it & share some gained knowledge among us.

Before I start with the DNA; Let’s understand the Business requirement of Enterprise Network Architecture.

Based on the industry trend most of the Organizations are in the phase of digital transformation to gain Competitive benefits. Since, the network infrastructure serves as a common point among all elements of digital change, including users, end devices, applications, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Let’s take a look at the below picture:-

In a typical Enterprise environment, We can flex the “Compute” at any point in time similarly We can flex the “Storage” very quickly, but when it comes to network, it is not that easy. It will require numerous efforts to plan, design, implementation, Testing, and handing over to operations.
Therefore, the network plays one of the most significant barrier to business evolution. Traditional networks are disconnected from growing businesses, end users and application needs. Therefore we need to evolve these networks such that these are secure, agile, flexible, intelligent and simple to operate.

These evolving requirements demand a new architecture and design approach that can add significant Business value to the enterprise. There could be many business requirements for digitally transforming networks, but these all can be categorized into four categories.

  1. Cost Reduction & Innovation
  2. Risk Mitigation
  3. Meaningful Insights driving experience
  4. Agility

1. Cost Reduction & Innovation

There are two major costs associated with Network
1) Operational Expenditure (OpEx)
2) Capital Expenditure (CapEx)

Based on 2016 McKinsey study of Network Operations for Cisco – Companies spend over $60B in network operations and labor. Imagine this cost if we consult recently study on IP Traffic, IP traffic will increase by more than 2.x folds by 2020 (per the Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts); and with the addition of more and more IoT devices; these numbers are going to increase drastically. Traditionally managing these devices is going to be a cumbersome job for IT infrastructure operation. Hence, operational cost is increasing day by day.

As the businesses are evolving, infrastructure is increasing and thus require the scale of a network as well. For example, capital expenditures can also be economized by network infrastructures that are elastic, flexible, and agile. Such gains realized when scalability is flexible and easily achieved, with seamless ability to make moves, adds, and changes (MAC) as specific network demands shift.

In the coming years, the network must operate to comply with the evolving application needs. Hence, we need an agile network which can reduce cost without the need for expensive hardware, installation man-hours.

In this article, innovation specifically refers to move resources into new business or organizational areas to drive new business. Due to the reduction in the time spent on network operations enterprise can now focus on further investment in innovation.

Another measure of innovation could be an increase in the percentage of network staff time allocated for new projects. What did those organizations do with the additional time? e.g.

  • Employees can focus on more trending technologies such as Cloud and SDN.

2. Risk Mitigation

As more and more IP devices including IoT are onboarding on networks; therefore new security challenges/threats arise. A malicious actor can exploit one of the vulnerability and breach enterprise networks to harm the organization.

However, with the rapid growth of public/private cloud–hosted applications, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and mobile workers, threat actors, find multiple ways to the network from both the inside and the outside; it mandates the requirement for network security to take a 360-degree approach.

Also, the Organization must comply with regulatory compliance such as PCI-DSS. Failing to do this can result in harsh fines and penalties which may further impact productivity. In such a case, organizations may benefit significantly by having an automated and systematic approach to enforcing compliance through their architecture.

Reliable and secure operations are essential not just for risk mitigation but also for enabling the organization to further its digital transformation. Another significant benefit that can provide the organization that level of confidence to roll out new digital capabilities and services with minimum risk (on-time delivery, compliance, service levels, etc.)

3. Meaningful Insights driving experience

In today’s world, every enterprise is having tons of data which is increasing very rapidly. However, very few enterprises get any meaningful insights out of it. These insights are constructive for Customer experience. For example for a retail customer might be interested to know

  • Who is buying our products?
  • Where are our customers buying it?
  • When are they buying it?
  • Why are they buying it?
  • What do they like about it?
  • What don’t they like about it?
  • Is our product or service meeting their needs?
  • Are there customer needs that our product or service doesn’t meet?

Similarly, the same customer might be interested to know insights which will help to understand employee experience.

  • Are our employees able to achieve their work goals?
  • What applications are our employees using to meet their goals? the Categories of applications could be one of the below
    • Unified communications (voice, video) and collaboration applications
    • Cloud-based/SaaS business applications
    • Mobile applications
    • IoT applications
    • Business transactions applications
  • Where are they using these applications?
  • Are these applications meeting their needs?
  • Are there any needs that are not addressed?
  • What do they like about these applications?
  • What don’t they like about these applications?
  • How well are these applications performing?
  • How much does it cost to run these applications?

Similarly, there could be many insights which could help IT Network operations team such as Compliance & Security purpose.

4. Agility

So, Do you think; just insights would help the enterprise in today’s world? – The answer is “No.” Because the enterprise wants to take certain actions to improve its employee/customer experience. It is something like; you visit a doctor and doctor tells; you got an infection, but Doctor does not tell you “which medicine to take”

Hence, we need to know the right set of actions that need to take if there is any abnormality. Term “Agility” varies differently with a different context. Refer to below picture to understand the Agility to different layers of Enterprise.

@ Infrastructure layer; Agility refers to Self-defending/Self-healing networks such as

  1. If one of the Access Point goes down; another access point should be able to increase their power levels automatically.
  2. Resolving the error-disable interface
  3. Patching/fixing on the known bug knowledge base.
  4. Fixing memory leak/CPU utilization issue.

@ Application layer; Agility refers to the applications interacting with network infrastructure to deploy services

  1. QoS policies for Enterprise VoIP application
  2. WAN policies for Critical Application data replication, i.e. backup and restore.

@ Operate layer; Agility refers to Automation which can help to automate the Mundane tasks. Few examples could be

  1. Executing a command script to all routers and switches.
  2. Taking a compliance report
  3. Rebooting a set of devices

@ Business layer; An agile organization can reduce the time needed to deploy new business-enabling applications and services and bring new products and services to market faster and more reliably with a higher customer acceptance rate. Below could be the examples

  1. Time to bring new branch online
  2. Time to market new product and services

Please stay tuned for my next blog in this series; We will look at How does DNA meet above mentioned Business Requirement.

Till then, appreciate your comments/feedback; I will update this blog based on your inputs.

3 thoughts on “Value Proposition of Cisco DNA … Part 1

  1. Pingback: Intent Based Networking (IBN) – mrcissp

  2. a crisp overview and precise point of flexiing network, but what is the value proposition for business here? is it high availabiility or resiliency


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