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Cisco DNA and EfficientIP IPAM Integration, For Easy Access Network Deployment

July 15, 2019 | Written by: EfficientIP | ,

When focusing on zero touch automation, orchestration and automated network deployment are in the landscape. For maximizing the efficiency of this process, an IP address management (IPAM) solution is a key component that will ensure coherence of this automation, provide error-free configuration and bring significant administration savings. This is why EfficientIP offers Cisco DNA customers strong integration on automatic IP address provisioning for access networks.

What is Cisco DNA?

Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) is an open, extensible, software-driven architecture that accelerates and simplifies enterprise network operations.

By combining a Software Defined Network solution (SDN) and network automation solution, DNA brings agility for faster network provisioning. As well as reducing installation delays, it eases application deployment for end users while taking advantage of micro-segmentation for security purposes. Allowing fast deployment of access networks for fixed and mobile users also enhances agility when it comes to transition of business. With continuous monitoring and greater information on resources required and consumed, the network is able to adapt itself for optimal behavior, in the best interest of users.

To enable its SDN, DNA relies on the Cisco DNA Center platform (DNAC) as an open solution which proposes multiple interaction points for either: a) providing information on the topology, on connected clients and on SDN fabric to third-party applications, or b) connecting to a specific service provider solution like IPAM or ITSM. This kind of best-of-breed approach at network level greatly enhances user experience when accessing applications. Three types of interaction points are offered: 1) a northbound API to gather information contained in DNA, 2) a set of normalized APIs enabling communications between DNA and external applications such as IPAM, ITSM or reporting and telemetry, and 3) an SDK allowing core product enhancement.

SOLIDserver in the Cisco DNA Ecosystem

EfficientIP’s DDI solution is utilized by DNA for helping with operations related to micro-segment administration. This partnership is, therefore, key in zero trust architecture. DNA uses the rich set of EfficientIP APIs to ensure error-free and cost-effective administration of access networks. Every action is performed directly from the DNA web interface and all DDI operations automated in the background.

By making all requests for subnet addresses from IPAM, the availability of DNA in the IP plan is assured. As a consequence, full coherence of the IP plan is respected. Network administrators are not required to be experts in IP plans, nor in the way the IPAM is organized. Bi-directional real time communication between both services guarantees that mistakes are avoided. The SDN could thus create and manipulate subnets that are directly available to end users, with DHCP and DNS services provisioned.

In order for DNA able to be able to take advantage of the IP plan view, a simple authenticated API link towards SOLIDserver™ is required. Once the configuration phase has been performed at the DNA application level and credentials validated, all features become available through the standard user interface without any need to use the IPAM configuration interface.

Any IP address pool created in DNA will be reserved in real time in the SOLIDserver IPAM after a coherence and availability check. There is a direct mapping between an IP pool at the upper level of the DNA hierarchy and a block in the IPAM. In the same way, there is a mapping between a sub pool and a subnet. This cross coherence authorizes actions to be executed on the IPAM without impacting the way DNA obtains future access network subnets. Two-way communication is key in this integration.

The Benefits for Access Networks

Coupling SDN with an IPAM solution is mandatory for ensuring micro-segmentation can be enabled in the enterprise network without impacting network administration teams. Zero trust networking demands reduction of the number of connected device on each network in order to improve security for clients and applications. Migrating to an SDN solution imposes network teams to adopt fully automated life cycle management of subnets. Having a large amount of manual operations in the network management process will impact the ability to use smaller subnets and to dynamically respond to business needs. Remember that digital transformation implies deep changes in the way people work together.

The IPAM solution could also take advantage of the northbound interface proposed by DNA Center platform, allowing information on all the provisioned access networks and connected clients to be gathered. This helps reinforce the consistent view of the IP environment in the IPAM, which should be considered as the central repository of IP golden records.

Leverage the IP Golden Records

Since the IP address management is the network “single source of truth” with regards to all IP information, it is highly recommended to use it as much as possible for maintaining a fully coherent network. The integration capabilities of EfficientIP SOLIDserver and rich ecosystem plugins are built for this purpose.

What is true with Cisco DNA on the management of the IP subnets also applies when working with DHCP and DNS services. Any access subnet referenced in the IPAM through DNA will be populated via the DHCP process whenever a device requires an IP address. In addition, its information will be synchronized in the DNS reverse zone in order to ease log analysis. And since telemetry is a key component of the zero trust approach, the analysis process of SIEMs will be simplified as they are able to benefit from real names rather than IP addresses.

Helping Zero Trust Strategy While Moving Towards Zero Touch

Having a rich DDI solution fully integrated with Cisco DNA is a real asset for deep diving into SDN network automation and increasing enterprise network security. This combination is a linchpin for enabling zero trust architecture. It brings full automation of the IP information linked to access networks, providing error-free configuration and time saving capabilities desired in zero touch approaches.

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