Simplify network management with the BlueCat Cisco DNA Center integration

BY Ben Ball

Cisco DNA Center uses intent-based networking to dramatically simplify network management. An intent-based network (IBN) captures business intent and aligns the network continuously and dynamically to changing business needs. An intent-based network depends on a programmable network. But network programmability is not just about writing applications that help in network provisioning and troubleshooting. APIs that let network services coordinate among themselves are a key part of a programmable network enhancing IT workflows.

By automating back-end configuration and deployment steps, Cisco DNA Center offers users the ability to stand up and manage large-scale operations with just a few clicks. Furthermore, Cisco DNA Center’s open platform capabilities offer REST-based APIs that allow programmatic integrations with external business applications and IT management systems.

Integrating IP address management

IP address management is one area in which Cisco DNA Center depends on external systems.  Most small to medium-sized networks use decentralized solutions for IP address management which do not support the automated functionality Cisco DNA Center requires.

In the absence of an automated solution for IP address management, Cisco DNA Center requires users to statically assign IPs and subnets manually.  More often than not, this requires help desk tickets, discussions with the network team about which IP addresses are available, and the need to “block off” IP addresses specifically for use by Cisco DNA Center. 

Many organizations are now moving to centralized, automated solutions from BlueCat to manage their DNS, DCHP, and IPAM at an enterprise level.  An API based integration with this single source of truth for IP address management and support for automation in place, Cisco DNA Center can extend the reach of intent-based networking deeper into enterprise operations, eliminating manual steps in the process of network management.

The integration with BlueCat allows for seamless, automated allocation and validation of IP addresses within Cisco DNA Center.  This saves users the need to assign IP addresses manually or confirm the availability of IP addresses with the network team.  It also prevents IP addresses used by Cisco DNA Center from being mistakenly assigned to other network devices, eliminating a source of errors which can bring down the network.

How it works

The BlueCat integration with Cisco DNA Center operates through the BlueCat Gateway automation platform.  Users can download a freely available workflow from the BlueCat Labs GitHub repository.  Once that workflow is deployed in Gateway, it connects through Cisco DNA Center APIs to create a bi-directional information flow between the two systems.

When Cisco DNA Center users perform a task with IP address implications, the software reaches back to the BlueCat Address Manager to assign an available IP address.  The IP address is marked as “in use” within the BlueCat Address Manager, ensuring that it is not assigned to any other device.  Complete information about how the IP address is being used, the device assigned to it, and other metadata resides in the Cisco DNA Center user interface.

Fulfilling the promise of IBN

The spread of intent-based networking increasingly depends on the ability to reach into back-end systems like DNS.  With the integration of Cisco DNA Center and BlueCat DNS solutions, core network functions can at last support the promise of simple, easy to use, enterprise-grade orchestration tools.

“We’ve heard it loud and clear:  administrators want the convenience and visibility that comes with managing the network from a single pane of glass,” says Andrew Wertkin, CTO at BlueCat.    “That’s why this new integration with Cisco DNA Center is so great for our users.  They can orchestrate even more of their network, with the confidence that their actions are reflected accurately across the enterprise.”

Learn more about the integration on Cisco DevNet, and then download the Cisco DNA Center-BlueCat integration on the BlueCat Labs GitHub repository.

Ben Ball

Ben Ball is a Government Market Manager at BlueCat, handling business development and marketing outreach in the Federal, State, and local government markets. Ben served for ten years as a Federal employee, with three tours as a Foreign Service Officer (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan), and five years at the Department of Homeland Security, where he focused on immigration issues. A graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Pitzer College, Ben lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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