Cisco DNA Center takes intent-based networking to IoT

Cisco has introduced IoT-enabled hardware that companies can manage through Cisco DNA Center. The connection between products takes intent-based networking to IoT deployments.

Companies that use Cisco DNA Center can now tap the Intent-based networking software for managing IoT devices connected to the network edge.

This week, Cisco made DNA Center a more significant player in the company's IoT portfolio by adding support for a new line of ruggedized industrial switches, called the Catalyst IE 3x00 Series, and an industrial router, called the Integrated Services Router (ISR) IR1101. Both have features specially designed to support networks of IoT devices. Pricing for the Catalyst series and the IR1101 start at $1,035 and $1,700, respectively.

The new IoT gear runs Cisco's IOS XE network operating system, which is a core component of Cisco's emerging intent-based networking (IBN) portfolio. IBN is a developing area of technology that incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate administrative tasks across a network.

DNA Center uses IOS XE to provide IBN features such as automated provisioning and configuration of network gear. Engineers can also use the software console to create and distribute policies that govern traffic to and from devices to prevent unauthorized communication.

Cisco DNA Center with IoT

Companies use DNA Center today mostly to manage Catalyst 9000 switches on campus and branch networks. Adding IoT-enabled gear to software already familiar to network operators is "a big deal for customers," said Vernon Turner, an analyst at Causeway Connections, based in Framingham, Mass.

"They can use DNA [Center] and other things to scale via automation," Turner said. "In this way, IoT devices and apps just got simpler to deploy and manage."

A company, for example, could use DNA Center to create a security policy that places restrictions on traffic flowing to surveillance cameras or medical devices connected to the Catalyst IE 3x00. Along with policy distribution, DNA Center can track IoT devices by providing an inventory of all hardware attached to networks.

"DNA [Center] becomes this centralized platform for having visibility into what's happening across your entire network and having control over those environments," said Brandon Butler, an analyst at IDC.

The ISR IR1101 takes DNA Center to use cases different than the new Catalyst line. For example, Innogy SE, an energy company based in Essen, Germany, uses the router in secondary substations to access devices that measure and control electricity to homes, according to Cisco. Innogy, however, uses network management software for service providers, called Cisco Prime, instead of DNA Center.

Cisco unveiled the new hardware at Cisco Live in Barcelona, Spain, where the vendor also introduced more resources for the 40,000 companies that use its IoT technologies. The releases included blueprints for IoT deployments, which Cisco called Validated Designs. The plans include a bill of materials, configurations, security best practices and system design.

Also, Cisco introduced an IoT Zone in its developer portal, DevNet. The IoT developer resources include sandboxes for testing and code application developers can run on Cisco switches and routers.

Cisco is second behind Huawei among the four largest IoT platform providers, according to IHS Markit. Microsoft is third, followed by PTC. Other significant players in the market include Alibaba, AWS, General Electric, IBM and SAP.

IDC predicts worldwide spending on IoT will reach $745 billion this year, an increase of more than 15% over 2018. The analyst firm forecasts double-digit growth through 2022, when spending will surpass $1 trillion.

Singularity acquisition

In other Cisco news, the company announced this week it would acquire Singularity Networks, a network analytics company founded in 2014 and based in Lone Tree, Colo. The company has less than 10 employees, according to Crunchbase.

Singularity software collects traffic data, logs and infrastructure performance metrics to provide network intelligence to enterprises and services providers. Cisco appeared to be more interested in the latter, as it planned to integrate the technology into its Crosswork Network Automation software portfolio for service providers.

Cisco expected to complete the acquisition by the end of April. The company did not disclose financial details.

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