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Cisco is partnering with AWS to offer the ability to run Cisco DNA Center

Cisco is partnering with AWS to offer the ability to run Cisco DNA Center

With an increasing thirst for cloud services, cloud migration, and cloud-first strategies, IT organizations are changing their operating model to be largely cloud-based, leveraging the capacity and elasticity of the cloud and moving to flexible consumption models. Another revealing data center fact is that 10% of global IT organizations will go serverless before 20231.

Cisco is partnering with AWS to offer the ability to run Cisco DNA Center
Figure 1. DNA Center install screen on AWS

Leveraging both Cisco and Amazon Web Services technologies, Cisco DNA Center can now be deployed on the customer’s AWS environment in approximately 90 minutes from the start of deployment to the ability to log in to the Cisco DNA Center UI and begin to monitor and manage the network. To help illuminate the value of a virtual Cisco DNA Center, it is important to explain what Cisco DNA Center is:

  • AI/ML Driven network monitoring and analytics platform delivering best-in-class network assurance and visibility with customized baselining and analytics enabling both active and proactive monitoring.
  • AI/ML Automation and Orchestration Engine, which provides the ability to automate complex workflows and ease troubleshooting with Machine Reasoning Engine.
  • Complete Network Management System with end-to-end life cycle management ranging from day zero onboarding, inventory, configuration, conformance, and device refresh capabilities.
  • Endpoint Identification with the ability to identify, classify and segment network devices with continuous monitoring and automated policy enforcement.
  • Software-Defined Network Controller that provides for a fully automated fabric configuration for zero trust with segmentation and the ability to manage the infrastructure as software leveraging APIs
  • User/Application Experience Monitoring and Management leveraging Cisco’s Full Stack Observability and integration with ThousandEyes and AppX to fully monitor and manage application performance across the network estate.
Cisco is partnering with AWS to offer the ability to run Cisco DNA Center
Figure 2. Cisco DNA Center AI Network Analytics Screen

While in the past, it has been common to run these functions on-prem, there are several distinct advantages to running Cisco DNA Center as a virtual appliance on AWS.

  • Eliminated the need for a physical server; this not only eliminates the need for hardware but also the data center space, power, and cooling, which helps reduce operational costs and contributes to the sustainability of the network operations.
  • Virtualization provides multiple forms of high availability. While some customers have opted to deploy a 3-node cluster for high availability of the physical appliances, the cloud infrastructure simplifies the high availability since it is part of the virtualization platforms and can seamlessly move the workload in case of a failure.
  • Ability to run globally at all AWS regions, many companies have a global presence and geographical administration boundaries, and some regions, such as the EU have strict guidelines about data location with cloud-based applications. This global deployment eases many of these constraints while at the same time bringing the management platform closer to the infrastructure.

Embracing the cloud first, along with Cisco DNA Center, the C9800-CL WLC cloud controller, and ISE 3.0 in the cloud, it is now possible to virtualize the WLC, policy, and management/orchestration platforms into AWS. It is important to note that this new form factor enables Cisco to extend the same code and feature set parity from the 2.3.3 (Guardian) release and above that is currently available on the physical appliance to the virtual appliance with a few exceptions:

  • Scale is limited to the medium appliance (44 core) scale with the ability to support:
    • 25K Endpoints
    • 5K Devices (Combination of Switches, Routers, Controllers, APs)
    • 1,500 Sites
  • The virtual appliance does not support clustering.
  • The virtual appliance does not support FIPS compliance, customers who have FIPS requirements need to continue to run Cisco DNA Center on a physical appliance.

While there is no cost for the virtual appliance from Cisco, customers will incur AWS costs to run the appliance on the AWS environment. Customers will need to purchase a support contract, and all network devices such as switches, routers, and wireless require their own DNA license (essentials or advantage) to be monitored and managed with Cisco DNA Center. Starting in March of 2023, you can subscribe to the Cisco DNA center virtual appliance from the AWS marketplace and use the cloud foundation template to deploy and use Cisco DNA Center in about 90 minutes.


For additional resources and information, visit

Additional Resources:

Learn More about Prime to Cisco DNA center migration

Cisco dCloud to experience and demo Cisco DNA Center via your Cisco log-in credentials

Cisco DNA Center Communities to connect with your peers and Cisco specialists

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