Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cisco DNA Center Review

IT network engineers can spend hours and days troubleshooting bad connections, updating equipment, and optimizing data flow. As the number of devices grows and the hiring of experienced IT staff becomes more difficult, IT managers need a better solution for network management.

IT managers need a solution that can monitor, analyze, control, and secure the data flow through physical and virtual equipment on wired networks, wireless networks, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and cloud devices — that won’t take up the time of network engineers. Tools like Cisco’s DNA Center provide a unifying solution to control policy, automation, and assurance throughout an organization and most importantly, save time.

See below to learn all about Cisco DNA Center and where it stands in the network management category:

Review of Cisco DNA Center

See more: Top Enterprise Networking Solutions and Companies

Cisco DNA Center and the network management market

Cisco’s DNA Center competes in the network management market. Estimates by analysts on the size and compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of the market vary:

Competitors

Cisco competes with various companies in the network management market: including, Alcatel-Lucent; Aruba Networks; Avaya; BMC Software; CA Technologies; Cisco; Ericsson; Extreme Networks; Flowmon Networks; Hewlett-Packard Development; IBM; Juniper Networks; Manage Engine; Micro Focus; Netscout System; Praessler; Riverbed Technology; and Solarwinds Worldwide

See more: The Networking Market

Cisco DNA Center key features

Cisco sells DNA Center as an appliance. Support for a virtual appliance is in development, but so far, the DNA Center can only be installed physically and on-site.

The Cisco DNA Center features include:

Automation features

  • Physical and virtual branch deployment automation
  • Cisco device plug and play
  • Device replacement and workflows
  • Network compliance audit and remediation
  • Policy creation and application for specific network sections
  • Wireless automation

Assurance features

  • Application experience performance data for critical business applications
  • Automated ticket resolution for connected ServiceNow and other IT service management platforms
  • Network and client health dashboards that provide high-level overviews of all network devices and clients, both wired and wireless
  • On-device analytics
  • Wireless network services analytics
  • Wi-Fi client analytics for Apple and Samsung

Software-defined access features

  • Continuous trust verification
  • Enhanced visibility into endpoints and traffic patterns
  • Granular multilevel segmentation

Cisco DNA Center key benefits

IT managers who implement a network management solution such as Cisco DNA Center expect to realize benefits, such as:

Implement zero trust

Network managers need to be able to deploy, analyze, and enforce security policies across the network infrastructure. Cisco DNA Center supplies artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled analytics of individual and group policies to help managers quickly and easily view the status of source and destination pairings.

Improve efficiency

Using a network manager can help to improve operations with optimized workflows for networks, security, software development, and artificial intelligence. Cisco DNA Center offers built-in workflows for various roles, such as DevOps, to guide IT teams to improve operational efficiency as well as troubleshoot suggestions to accelerate repairs.

DNA Center also automates regular workflows and deployments to eliminate mundane tasks and minimize human error. Using a single unified tool to deploy equipment not only reduces the time for completion, but it also ensures uniform configurations and eliminates security gaps.

Scale, troubleshoot, and test wireless networks

Network managers provide insights into wireless network performance, interference, and networking equipment status. Cisco DNA Center generates 3D wireless maps that intuitively show coverage, bandwidth, and blind spots to enable effective growth of the wireless network and scaling of capacity for user needs.

DNA Center also supports the new Wi-Fi 6 standard and can check wireless clients and wireless equipment for Wi-Fi 6 capabilities and their projected performance once the standard is adopted. IT managers can gauge current demand, current readiness, and estimate the budget to improve equipment.

Cisco DNA Center use cases

DENSO Corporation

DENSO supplies the world’s automotive industry with advanced technical capabilities such as powertrain systems and air-conditioning systems. It needed to connect its factory equipment to its networks and adopted Cisco DNA Center to enable more effective and efficient management of network equipment.

“Among the networks, factory networks, which require exceptionally high reliability and availability, are not easy to update in terms of firmware,” says Yutaka Matsunaga, chief of NW service section, IT service office, DENSO. 

“Basically, we didn’t update it, and even if we did, it was once every few years. However, the risk of factories being exposed to cyberattacks has increased recently, and we wanted to increase the frequency of updates. After verification in the test environment, … we succeeded in updating all the network devices in the factory simultaneously, without any errors, such as devices failing to update and stopping.”

Fukui-ken Saiseikai Hospital 

Medical device digitization helps produce better results for health care but managing a large increase in connected devices and users could overwhelm Fukui City’s Fukui-Ken Saiseikai Hospital. The hospital’s IT team adopted the Cisco DNA Center and quickly recognized significant time savings in setting up secure network segments, managing network traffic, and troubleshooting issues.

“The control console of Cisco DNA Center detected a malfunction in a wireless access point, and the investigation found that it was down due to poor contact of a power cable,” says Hiroki Tanaka, medical information division operations leader, Fuikui-ken Saiseikai Hospital.

“Until now, identifying the causes of complaints has been difficult. Cisco DNA Center provides strong responses regarding the speed of correspondence and failure protection.”

REWE Group

The REWE Group, based in Austria, is one of Europe’s largest supermarket chains, and it selected Cisco DNA Advantage to take advantage of the built-in artificial intelligence diagnostics. The IT team enjoys how DNA Advantage eliminates trivial alerts, highlights important issues, and offers suggestions for remediation.

“The time to resolve a ticket has been reduced dramatically. … My team has more time to focus on new projects and innovations,” says Hans Vasters, senior network architect, REWE Group.

Cisco DNA Center differentiators

When customers choose Cisco DNA Center, they do so for some of the following differentiators:

Brand name

A leader in networking, Cisco holds a 39.8% share of the Ethernet switch and router market. Many companies only use Cisco products and would prefer to use a Cisco network management solution that will natively integrate with their primary equipment.

The DNA Center Compatibility Matrix primarily lists support Cisco products, but this is more a testament to the position of Cisco in the market than incompatibility. Cisco DNA Center is an open platform and APIs and SDKs can also be used for other third-party technologies to integrate with the system.

Advanced features

Cisco DNA Center supports a number of proprietary features that make IT network support more efficient and more secure. For instance, for security, Cisco Adaptive Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (aWIPS) provides threat analysis and details of rogue access points and threats to wireless networks. For troubleshooting, Cisco AI Network Analytics uses artificial intelligence to develop network-specific baselining, detect anomalies, and assist with remediation.

User reviews of Cisco DNA Center 

Review site Rating
Gartner Peer Insights 4.5 out of 5
TrustRadius 8.6 out of 10
G2 4.3 out of 5
PeerSpot 3.8 out of 5

Cisco DNA Center pricing

Cisco does not publish prices for their DNA Center appliance on their website, but some resellers do publish list princess for standard configurations. ITPrice.com lists prices dated May 11, 2022 including:

DNA Center Appliance $79,265
DNA Center Appliance Gen2 (44 cores) $104,619.79
DNA Center Appliance Gen2 (56 cores) $174,018.26

In addition to the hardware costs, not including installation, customers also need to purchase DNA software subscriptions for each device to be connected to the DNA Center. As with the hardware, Cisco does not publish costs on their website, but representative costs can be found on reseller partner websites, varying between $250 and $2,500 per license.

The actual cost paid may be very different, because Cisco permits bulk discounts, and the license fee varies by the term, customer, level of license, and type of product:

  • Term: Licenses may be purchased with three-, five-, and seven-year terms.
  • Customer: Education and government discounts may be available.
  • Level of license: Essentials (basic) or Advantage (premium).
  • Type of product: Switches, wireless, or SD-WAN products.

The features supported by the level of license can be viewed through the type of product links above.

Cisco understands that hardware configuration may change over time, so it offers Smart Licensing and Smart Accounts that allow for licenses to be transferred between devices.

Conclusions

Companies with sprawling networks, multiple sites, and a mix of software-defined, wired, and Wi-Fi infrastructure need more capable solutions to avoid wasting network engineer time with lower-level tasks. Advanced solutions such as Cisco DNA Center harness AI to deliver better visibility and better understanding of the networking environment. Network engineers can save time and complete more tasks with embedded features that provide initial diagnostics to pinpoint issues and suggest solutions. Organizations with growing networks need to consider a solution such as DNA Center to improve their operations, compliance, and security.

See more: Top Networking Trends

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