Cisco on Monday formally unveiled its developer program, DevNet, which provides tools and other resources to build software for Cisco infrastructure.
"As Cisco shifts to a software and services company, we realize that developers give Cisco the ability to scale and help create the value that our customers consume," Susie Wee, vice president and CTO of Networked Experiences at Cisco, wrote in a blog post.
The DevNet initiative has actually been in operation for about nine months, but Cisco now has a renewed focus on it and is investing more heavily in it, Rick Tywoniak, director of DevNet, told us in an interview. The program also features new technologies and APIs, especially in the areas of software-defined networks and the Internet of Things (or the Internet of Everything, as Cisco calls it).
Altogether, the DevNet portal provides more than 100 APIs. Other areas include collaboration, security, and Connected Mobile Experience (CMX). The portal also provides SDKs, code samples, and a developer sandbox. The site has been redesigned to make it easier for developers to find APIs, says Tywoniak.
Cisco plans to make its Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) Enterprise Module, which extends SDN functionality across campus and branch networks, available to developers and customers for free via DevNet. The company did not provide a specific timeline for that.
Networkers meet developers
One of DevNet's major goals is fostering the DevOps model by bringing the traditional CCIE networking community together with software developers. In the past, developers have had a tough time trying to rapidly deliver applications for the network, Tywoniak says.
"Part of what we're trying to do with DevNet is create an environment where we bring those communities together so you can build applications rapidly, but leverage and optimize the network for those applications."
Wee says DevNet aims to give both networking engineers and developers the tools they need to succeed in a DevOps model.
"We need to give those CCIEs who know how to run infrastructure -- and they're really smart, but software isn't their day job -- the coding tools and make everything accessible in a way they really understand," she told us. "[We also] let developers know what they need to know about the infrastructure, then we pair them up."
That's what happened at Cisco Live in May. The DevNet Zone at the conference included a hands-on coding class that proved popular with engineers and a 24-hour hackathon that attracted teams of CCIEs and developers.
Adapting to industry change
Brad Casemore, research director of data center networks at IDC, says DevNet reflects Cisco's strategy of being an IT leader, rather than a networking giant. Being an IT leader means not just branching out into new technologies, but also reaching out to different constituencies as the industry evolves and new market realities take hold.
"Cisco wants to engage more directly with developers, and change developers' perception of Cisco as a company. That's the bigger picture of DevNet," says Casemore. "It's part of Cisco's evolution as a company."
At the same time, Cisco wants to help its core constituency of network engineers get up to speed on developer-friendly technologies, such as scripting and virtualization, as organizations move towards more collaborative IT departments, he says.
A recent IDC survey indicated a lot of interest in shifting away from the traditional enterprise IT model of "silos and tickets that get passed around," Casemore says, noting that organizations are interested in a new type of collaborative structure, not necessarily a pure DevOps model.
DevNet's cloud-based sandbox for testing applications is just getting up to speed, but the goal is to give developers a quick way to test their software, Tywoniak says. The lab also will be used to test and validate applications.
He adds that Cisco also plans to incorporate an enterprise app store in DevNet in order to help developers market their applications.
Cisco's goal is to grow its developer community by 55% per year to a million developers by 2020.