Cisco DNA Center Review

Reliable and great automation, but should be easier to integrate

What is our primary use case?

The solution is mainly used for setting up SPN or intent-based networking for the customers.

How has it helped my organization?

In day-to-day operations, especially post-pandemic, the majority of our customers have to work from anywhere. It's not just work from home, it's work from anywhere. Due to this work from anywhere concept, the traditional silos of a network for the data center architecture, and managing everything from anywhere, and having that single integrated dashboard for each and every activity while being able to correlate those activities in line with a business objective, has been very well addressed by Cisco DNA.

What is most valuable?

The solution's most valuable aspect is its simplicity and the complete automation of the network workflow, which we can use that correlate with the business. It's not only limited to STXs or a data center. It completes everything, which really helps us.

If a user is comfortable with Cisco technology, the initial setup is pretty straightforward. 

Cisco is extremely reliable.

The solution has the capability to scale. 

Technical support is always excellent.

What needs improvement?

The architecture should not be limited only to the USXC as a platform. Let's say if I'm referring to the Catalyst 1000 Series or an MB Series of an SG or FX. Due to the fact that there are mid-market and commercial customers who are using such kinds of product lines apart from the Catalyst 9000 or Cisco UCS architecture, they should all come under a single pane of glass. Any new product should be added right from Cisco itself.

The network automation should not be limited only to Cisco, as there may be customers who are using Palo Alto firewalls, or they might be using Ruckus for wireless. There has to be some sort of integration with a third party. 

The integration of Cisco DNA with a couple of leading CRMs or ticketing solutions would be ideal. 

The solution can be quite pricey.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been dealing with the solution for three to four years or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is never an issue with Cisco. It's reliable. there are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability isn't really an issue. However, it all depends on the version or the flavor that you are selecting. We don't see a challenge. All options are available to us.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support on offer from Cisco is always excellent. it would rate them at a ten out of ten. they are helpful and responsive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We are using Cisco DNA as well as Ansible as a platform. We don't have that much experience working on other product lines. While Cisco is on the cloud, Ansible is on-premises.

How was the initial setup?

If the engineer is good enough to understand the Cisco terminology, and if they have past experience working with Cisco, I don't see a challenge working with Cisco DNA as a platform.

Deployment may take maybe five to seven working days. However, the real process is all about fine-tuning. It's a continuous improvement process as we need to align DNA with the business objectives. It's not that product where we actually talk to the customer on a technicality. It is more about how best we can ensure the business outcome via the automation tool. There is always lots of engagement that happens at the customer experience level. That's the reason it takes some more time to find units.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is quite expensive. It'd rate it at a two out of ten in terms of affordability.

We have customers who would like to deploy DN architecture, however, DN architecture requires a DNF appliance. For the mid-market customer who is investing hardly a few thousand dollars, if they have to deploy an appliance, it is very costly. Ideally, to address the need of SMB or mid-market customers, Cisco should offer something on a cloud basis where it could be more affordable. 

My feedback to the Cisco product team is that technology is fantastic. There are no issues. The only thing is that they have to make the technology at an affordable price point, which should be affordable to SMBs and not just enterprises. Enterprises don't mind spending money. However, for mid-market and commercials, working out a pricing model which is more on an OPEX base rather than on a CAPEX base would be ideal.

What other advice do I have?

We are a system integrator and we are providing network automation solutions and services to our customers. 

Overall, I would rate the solution at a six out of ten. It's quite good, however, it's not ideal for smaller organizations as it's cost-prohibitive.

This solution is best for customers who are end-to-end, Cisco customers. For the customers who have a heterogeneous environment where security comes from let's say CrowdStrike or Palo Alto or Ruckus we would suggest that a customer goes with Ansible. Cisco has limitations in terms of integration and automation when working with solutions outside the Cisco family. Some sort of API interface has to be available. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: partner
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