Cisco Injects New DNA Into Networking Products

At Cisco's Partner Summit, the company rolls out new data center and networking gear and new ACI strategy.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Mar 3, 2016
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Cisco is adding yet another acronym to the networking lexicon as it aims to increase agility and flexibility of its portfolio in the increasingly software defined era of computing. Cisco's Digital Network Architecture, DNA for short, debuts this week as a way to help expand Cisco's ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure).

"The digital network is the platform for digital business," said Rob Soderbery, SVP for Enterprise Products and Solutions, Cisco.

"Cisco DNA brings together virtualization, automation, analytics, cloud and programmability to build that platform," Soderbery said in a statement. "The acronym for the Digital Networking Architecture – DNA – isn’t an accident. We’re fundamentally changing the DNA of networking technology."

DNA is a strategy with concrete deliverables in both the technology and services categories. Part of the DNA rollout is the APIC-EM enterprise controller, the latest update to the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) that has been a cornerstone part of Cisco's ACI strategy since the controller first shipped in 2014.

The Cisco IOS XE operating system is also getting an update to support the DNA strategy. Cisco is now adding what it calls Enterprise Network Function Virtualization (Enterprise NFV) into IOS XE, providing Virtual Network Functions (VNF) including routing, firewall, WAN Optimization, and WLAN Controller capabilities that all run in software. Cisco IOS XE has been on the leading edge of Cisco's firmware for several years and is a Linux based network operating system. By supporting NFV and VNF capabilities that can run in software without specific hardware, Cisco follows a larger industry trend. In an effort to break down the silo walls of hardware-bound networking firmware, rival networking vendor Juniper announced its disaggregated Junos operating system in November 2015.

On the data center switching front, Cisco this week also announced a new generation of Nexus 9000 switches. The Nexus 9000 platform has been Cisco's go to market switching platform for ACI since 2014, when the company announced the Nexus 9516, a large 21 Rack-Unit (RU) chassis box with support for up to 2,304 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. This week, the new Nexus 9200 series gets a boost by supporting the emerging 25 Gigabit Ethernet standard.

Cisco is also expanding the Nexus 3000 data center switch series, which makes used of Broadcom silicon instead of Cisco's customer ASICs to support 25 Gigabit Ethernet networking as well.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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