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Cisco DNA Center OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Cisco DNA Center is the #3 ranked solution in our list of top Network Management Applications. It is most often compared to Cisco Prime: Cisco DNA Center vs Cisco Prime

What is Cisco DNA Center?

DNA Center is the network management and command center for Cisco DNA, your intent-based network for the enterprise.

Provision and configure all your network devices in minutes. Use advanced analytics to proactively monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize your network. Integrate with third-party systems for improved operational processes.

Cisco DNA Center is also known as DNA Center.

Cisco DNA Center Buyer's Guide

Download the Cisco DNA Center Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

Cisco DNA Center Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Cisco DNA Center pricing:
  • "I do know that Cisco does offer some really good promotions for DNA Center to bring the costs down."
  • "Our licensing agreement is for three years."

Cisco DNA Center Reviews

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FL
Senior Network Engineer at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Robust, zero-day configuration with wireless assurance and telemetry, with outstanding support

Pros and Cons

  • "I think that their LAN automation is a very good feature."
  • "The task failure reporting or provisioning failure reporting could be a little bit better in the UI, with more information given to the user."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for network assurance and automation, network segmentation with ISE integration, and LAN automation deploying new devices out into the switching estate.

This was for a TSA project that we were doing for a client.

How has it helped my organization?

It relieved some of the operational burdens on the IT staff. It makes troubleshooting a lot of issues much quicker from a central single pane of glass, whether it's a switch issue or authentication issue with ISE, or a wireless connectivity issue. 

DNA center is very capable of being able to address well, identify the issue, suggest remediation steps, run remediation, run commands against a switch to check the proper connectivity for example, and also address all our remediation steps that the IT person could take.

Rather than having to log into the individual switch DNA center, you can basically run your commands, run your troubleshooting, all from DNA and attempt to remediate the problem.

What is most valuable?

I think that their LAN automation is a very good feature. It takes advantage of the plug-and-play capability from the catalyst switches. 

We'll do a zero-day configuration, which is a good feature. 

Also, wired and wireless assurance, client health, and network health are valuable, especially with the wireless sensors deployed. It can give you a good idea of what's going on in the RF environments.

The template feature is really good, you have free templates and then associate those templates to a tag, tag a device with a certain role, and just program devices that way rapidly.

It's pretty robust. The wireless assurance and telemetry, as well as the security and the segmentation capabilities, are outstanding.

They deploy rapidly. They are scalable throughout the entire organization. With just a few clicks, it really removes a lot of the human error that you would normally have with access control lists.

It takes a lot of the human element out of configuration.

You can create VRS and VNS and deploy those system-wide, application policies with a few clicks and segmentation with a few clicks.

What needs improvement?

With their provisioning status, if there's a failure in provisioning or in some type of task that DNA is trying to push out to a switch or whatever device, sometimes the task status errors or the provision errors are a little bit big. 

I think they could provide a little more detail to someone when a task fails. It's an error code that tells you that this task has failed, but it doesn't get too deep into why it failed. The task failure reporting or provisioning failure reporting could be a little bit better in the UI, with more information given to the user.

From the CLI you can get much more information from MagLevs.

Also, the UI could use a little bit of improvement. I know that things have gotten a lot better in version 2, but I haven't worked with version 2 yet.

A feature that I would like to have seen is the true debt disaster recovery, which is now available in the 2.2.1 version.

More detailed information would be helpful, but you can get that information from the CLI but not everyone is comfortable working in the Linux shell.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Cisco DNA Center for approximately two years.

The last version that I worked with was Version 1.3.3.6.

Currently, the latest is version 2.X.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. I would rate the stability an 8.5 out of 10. 

We had an issue with the DNA center database. 

With the DNA center, you have to be a little patient. 

We may have been trying to ask it to do too much at one time, and it created a problem with the database that escalated to the business unit to get cleaned up.

That was really not so much an issue with the DNA sensors, it was because we had spooled up a lot of tasks and you have to be a little patient with DNA.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

My impression of the scalability is all positive. 

It's highly scalable. DNA itself is deployed as either a single node or a three-node cluster.

We were deploying it in a single node state, but my impression of it is quite positive. I like it a lot.

DNAC itself is an orchestrator and its collecting audit assurance, and telemetry. The entire IT staff of the end organization will be using the DNA center. It's probably a staff of 15 to 20 people. 

In terms of endpoint end-users, that DNA is collecting assurance and telemetry from several thousand. It's being fully utilized.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had a fair amount of interaction with technical support. I would rate them outstanding. Their DNA team is solid.

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

I didn't use any other solution previously.

How was the initial setup?

Standing up the DNAC appliance itself is pretty straightforward.

The deployment was a phased approach. We did three DNAC appliances across three regions globally. 

To stand up the appliance itself doesn't take long at all. It takes a few hours, but it was a phased migration strategy, one site at a time over a period of several months, we would do one or two site migrations a week.

There were an existing network infrastructure and a new network infrastructure that we were standing up in parallel to the old and then cutting it over on a weekend.

We have a handful of people who have access to the regional appliance made up of network admins and help desk personnel.

Once it's deployed and built out, it runs on its own. There is not much to with it unless you need to do a package or a software upgrade for the appliance itself.

There is no further deployment unless they are going to stand up a new site and integrate that into the DNA architecture. As it is now, everything is already up, which is what we did.

We did the deployment, the integration, and the site migration from start to finish. Then we do a low-level design and handover and workshops.

We have approximately 10 users that would have some type of operational role in DNA.

It's being highly utilized and leveraged in the organization.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use a consultant or an integrator. I completed it myself. We are Cisco Partners.

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

This is taken care of before I am involved. It's handled by our presales engineer, and I work on the project delivery.

I do know that Cisco does offer some really good promotions for DNA Center to bring the costs down. But again, I don't really know the details of those promotions. I just hear about them and I know they're out there, but I don't have specifics on that.

What other advice do I have?

Cisco DNA does not have a Cloud solution. It's an on-premises appliance.

They may stand up if they bring in another heritage. They may have some heritage or legacy sites that they may bring over to the new network.

We are multi-national. Our organization is based in London, New York, and Sydney. Our clients are all multi-national global clients.

We do have some regional clients as well, but we are well-positioned to serve multi-nationals across three regions.

My advice is to read the release notes thoroughly. Understand how to deploy, in a single or three-node cluster. Most importantly be aware of release notes and read the documentation.

Do your homework, read the manual, it's there for a reason.

Be patient when standing up a new fabric site. Don't do too many tasks at one time.

The biggest lesson that I have learned is to be patient. When you have a series of tasks that you need to do, don't initiate too many at one time, initiate three or four, allow those to finish, and then continue on.

From when I first started working with DNA, it's come a very long way.

From a programmability standpoint, it really is quite solid. I really like the LAN automation capabilities.

In terms of software-defined networking, I think it's an outstanding product. I would rate Cisco DNA Center a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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MM
Network and Data Center Supervisor at a educational organization with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Good security and analytics, easy to manage, and scalable across buildings and campuses

Pros and Cons

  • "It is simple to manage and it is all done from a single dashboard."
  • "The network, data center, and SD-WAN are all being treated as different services, but I would like to have only one solution to manage all of them."

What is our primary use case?

We are an educational environment that is similar to a university, but we only teach management and leadership. We have a variety of visitors every day, more than 2,000 of them, and they are unknown to us. This makes it very difficult to centrally manage using a traditional network.

We are currently in the second round of the implementation phase for this solution. We have two buildings with the solution implemented now, and we are working on other buildings. We are on the same campus but we are doing the work in four phases. Now that two are complete, we have two more that we are about to finish.

Everything is secure in our environment, so we are using the overlay of the DNA Center to separate the visitors and the employees and the trainers. We are using a multi-segmented network, so DNA was a very good solution for us to deal with this type of environment.

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to implementing DNA Center, it was very difficult for us to create a large number of VLANs for our switches. This has made it possible for us to meet the need of maintaining connections when people move between buildings on the campus or travel to another campus.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the DNA analytics, which is very good for us.

It is very important for everyone to be able to see everything that is happening in the network from one location. It is simple to manage and it is all done from a single dashboard.

We set up the identity service and it is amazing for us to have an identity for each user. All of the network policies are set according to one's identity.

The ability to trace attacks if they occur is very good in terms of security. The security is part of the network layer. Generally, security has been improving with Cisco solutions because it was not as good in the past.

If a device is lost then it is very easy to replace. I just drag and drop the configuration from the old device to the new one and after a few seconds, the new device is working with the same configuration that we had before. It does not have to be configured manually.

What needs improvement?

The network, data center, and SD-WAN are all being treated as different services, but I would like to have only one solution to manage all of them. Data is traveling from the inside to the outside layer, and I want to be able to fully control all of the data going in and out. It should not be set up as multi-service, but rather a single one.

If you have old Cisco hardware such as switches or access points, or they are from another vendor, then they will not work with this solution. The hardware will still function but you will not be able to control it with DNA.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with Cisco DNA Center for two months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution has been stable since it was installed two months ago.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is one of the reasons that we chose Cisco DNA. We have ten buildings within the same campus and when we implemented the PoC, Cisco said that scalability is very important for us.

We have had about 3,000 people using this solution to this point, but we are not yet at full capacity. We expect to have more than 4,000 concurrent users.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not been in contact with technical support.

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

Prior to using Cisco DNA Center, we had a traditional network. We had switches and routers from Cisco, HP, and Dell. We switched because we are joining all of the buildings together and given their size, the number of visitors, and the scalability that we need, we had to switch to DNA.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward except for the issue that this solution is incompatible with switches or access points from other vendors. That is very bad.

It takes us about two weeks to deploy this solution in one of our buildings. This includes installing the hardware, software, access points, and everything.

What about the implementation team?

We have a technician from Cisco to do the implementation for us.

During deployment, there were eight people from our staff and five people from Cisco.

For maintenance, for each building, we have two or three technicians at various levels. We have other administrators as well, although they are responsible for different solutions such as SAP and ERP. The same person is responsible for multiple technologies.

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

Our licensing agreement is for three years.

What other advice do I have?

The Cisco Digital Network Architecture is the first solution with these types of capabilities that I have used. It allows me to monitor everything in the network, including end-to-end packet travel and tracking the specific packets.

This solution is really stable and scalable.

My advice for anybody who is considering this solution is to consider the size of the environment. If there are a very large number of switches or visitor access points then I recommend DNA. However, if there are a small number of switches and access points then I would recommend the Cisco Meraki because it is fine for small and medium-sized networks.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from working with this solution is that this technology is much easier now. I think it's a revolution in networking and wireless communication where it is becoming easier and nothing like traditional networking. It is now an overlay and an underlay network. All of the people working in this field have to be up to date with the technology. It is very new and there are many capabilities when it comes to network control, analytics, and security compliance. IT people have to adapt to new technologies.

I have not yet tested the IoT for our smart building because we don't use it in our current location.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Cisco DNA Center. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
540,984 professionals have used our research since 2012.
NK
Managing Director at Allot Group
Real User
Top 20
Reliable and great automation, but should be easier to integrate

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution has the capability to scale."
  • "The solution can be quite pricey."

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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BR
Solution Selector Communication and IT Security at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Reseller
Top 20
Provides network visibility to assist with troubleshooting and fixing problems

Pros and Cons

  • "People like to use the dashboards to get an overview of their network."
  • "There is a limitation with the number of VRFs that you can have in your network, and this has caused us problems with some customers."

What is our primary use case?

My experience with Cisco DNA Center is with selling it and receiving feedback from my customers. I have not personally done any configuration or management with it.

I have worked with the demo and also presented it to customers.

My clients use this solution to give them more visibility into their network, and the management mode helps with to troubleshoot and fix problems.

What is most valuable?

People like to use the dashboards to get an overview of their network.

If you have a bottleneck in your network then this solution can fix it.

DNA Center is easier to use than Fortinet FortiManager.

What needs improvement?

The pricing of this solution could be improved.

There is a limitation with the number of VRFs that you can have in your network, and this has caused us problems with some customers.

This solution does not support IP version 6.

I would like to see better integration with Cisco Meraki.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with this solution for about a year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to expand this solution because it is easy to configure, add new sites, and get bigger because you already have the plan. With the configuration already done, it's just plug and play.

The only problem with scaling DNA Center is that it doesn't support IP version 6 yet.

Our clients have between 3,000 and 8,000 users.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not been in touch with technical support for this solution.

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

I have experience with several solutions including FortiManager. Cisco DNA center is easier to use. Also, competitors like Fortinet and Aruba do not have a similar system. They are working on it and trying to get it, but they just don't have a DNA Center.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy and straightforward if you follow the steps and you have a normal network. However, if you have an advanced network and a lot of things to think about then it can be an issue. For example, if you have a network with a lot of VRFs then it may be an issue because DNA Center can't handle it. If you are starting from a greenfield rather than a brownfield then it should be easier.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anyone who is looking into implementing this solution is to start with Cisco Assurance and do the mapping of the network. I would suggest asking for help from the partners to help with the installation. You can do it on your own but you will easily save the money that you spend on the consultants because they are experts. You will not waste time getting it up and running, and you will be back on track quickly.

This is a good solution but nothing is perfect. That said, they are ahead of the other vendors. 

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer:
Umar Hanafi
Presales Engineer at PT. Mastersystem Infotama
Real User
Top 10
Good monitoring, analytics, and technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "The monitoring features are very useful for network engineers."
  • "DNA Center has been on the market for a few years and they need to update it."

What is our primary use case?

We are a solution provider and this is one of the products that we implement for our customers.

Our clients use this solution to manage their network, including their access points.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the integration with Cisco devices and infrastructure.

The Wi-Fi analytics are helpful.

The monitoring features are very useful for network engineers.

What needs improvement?

We have had a lot of problems with the Cisco switches and have needed to upgrade the operating systems, which means that we have to upgrade the DNA. When we upgrade the DNA it means that we have to upgrade the ISE, also. If it is a large cluster then this process is painful.

DNA Center has been on the market for a few years and they need to update it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with DNA Center for about two years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco's technical support is good. We have had problems and still have an open case but this has been related to the switches. Cisco is good at helping both the partners and the customers, too. 

What other advice do I have?

Cisco DNA Center is something that I recommend. We do not sell just the product, but rather, the entire DNA solution. We don't just upgrade a switch. Instead, we upgrade the entire network. DNA is definitely good for the customer.

Overall, this is a good solution but it has been a few years since it has been updated.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner