Cisco's DevNet Comes of Age

People who work hands-on with Cisco gear finally understand it's time to reskill, and DevNet can help.

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I've been following Cisco's developer efforts since the company acquired Metreos in 2006 and kicked off the Cisco Technology Developer Program, or CTDP. The ensuing years brought failed attempt after failed attempt to build up developer environment, so by the time Cisco launched its DevNet program in 2014, my first reaction was to chortle, with the thought, "Here we go again."

However, four years later, I admit to having been wrong.

DevNet has flourished, as evident at this week's Cisco Livecustomer and partner event (see related No Jitter post, "Cisco Opens Up on Programmable Future"). CEO Chuck Robbins gave a nod to the DevNet community during his opening day keynote, and DevNet CTO Susie Wee, the mastermind behind this incarnation of Cisco's developer efforts, discussed the state of the program from the mainstage on day two.

DevNet success factors

During her presentation, Wee proudly reported that DevNet just hit a significant milestone, with 500,000 registered users -- both application developers as well as a significant number of network engineers who are using the programmability to do their jobs better. For example, instead of using a command-line interface (CLI) to do something like create a VLAN, a network engineer could instead set up an API call. This is an important difference, as an API call is faster, can be embedded into applications, allows for the use of standard orchestration tools, and removes all the human errors plaguing companies today.

Some of DevNet's success is attributable to the fact that Cisco is building all new products with APIs. The rise of software-defined networking ushered in a new era for networking, and almost all new network devices, from Cisco and its competitors, have exposed APIs to make the infrastructure more programmable. If Cisco required developers to write custom scripts that needed to infuse CLI commands, it'd have a hard time getting their interest. So, it's building its products with programmability in mind.

The other factor contributing to DevNet program's early success is its assumptions that most network engineers have never programmed a lick in their lives and that app developers know nothing about networking. The intersection of networking infrastructure and software development can be intimidating on both sides, and DevNet has programs to address each.


About the Author(s)

Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst with ZK Research

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He spent 10 years at Yankee Group and prior to that held a number of corporate IT positions. Kerravala is considered one of the top 10 IT analysts in the world by Apollo Research, which evaluated 3,960 technology analysts and their individual press coverage metrics.

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