Cisco Opens up by Committing to REST APIs

Cisco Live 2016 Img001 6

By: Michael Vizard

Cisco yesterday at a Cisco Live! event announced it is publishing more than 100 open REST application programming interfaces (APIs) and associated toolkits for Cisco DNA Center as part of an effort to encourage developers, partners and end customers to develop complementary applications and services. Cisco is also pledging to resell some of those applications on behalf of the companies that develop them.

Cisco DNA Center is the control plane through which Cisco is unifying the management of its network services. By standardizing the APIs, Cisco is attempting to provide a level of open interoperability that renders much of the debate surrounding open networking moot. 

So long as Cisco provides access to well-defined northbound, southbound, eastbound and westbound APIs, most organizations are not going to be concerned about being locked into any given platform, says Prashanth Shenoy, vice president of marketing, enterprise networking, and mobility at Cisco.“We’re trying to elevate the open conversation,” he says. 

IT vendors and service providers that have already committed to incorporating Cisco DNA APIs in their offerings include ServiceNow, SAP, Accenture, Presidio), Italtel Netwrapper), WWT, and HCL.

The open Cisco DNA APIs also provide the added benefit of making Cisco networking infrastructure more relevant within the context of emerging DevOps processes. Many IT organizations are increasingly embracing agile programming methodologies that are made possible by implementing DevOps processes. But all too often an application can now be developed in weeks still winds up waiting for networking services to be provisioned. Open APIs will make it more feasible for IT organizations to dynamically provision a well-defined set of network services on their own without the direct intervention of a network administrator being required, says Shenoy.

Although Cisco has been slow to embrace some of the trends in open networking, it appears to now be moving more in that direction after years of resistance. Earlier this year, Cisco unbundled its IOS operating system from its hardware after AT&T announced plans to deploy 60,000 white boxes in its network. White boxes allow network operators to run any network operating system on open, commodity hardware.

The move to embrace open REST APIs follows a Cisco decision to also embrace the Kubernetes container platform, a move that Cisco this week reiterated as being a strategic imperative that it is undertaking in collaboration with Google. Historically, Google has always demanded key partners embrace at the very least open interfaces.

Obviously, Cisco to a certain degree is embracing REST APIs to derail any momentum that proponents of open source networking may be gaining. But regardless of the Cisco motivation, an arguably overdue embrace of open REST APIs is significant step in the right direction for all concerned.

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