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Cisco Launches Network Development Push

With increased network programmability as a key tenet of emerging software-defined networking (SDN) technology, Cisco Systems Inc. is actively courting developers with its DevNet site, hoping to get them onboard with its SDN vision.

Launched last December, the developer portal has now reached critical mass, a spokesman told this site, with 80,000 registered developers, a number projected to exceed 1 million by 2020.

"Traditionally, developers struggled to marry software applications with networking hardware; the network simply wasn't software-friendly and programmable," said Cisco exec Susie Wee in a blog post today that served as the official coming out party for DevNet. "Today the development environment is rich and ready to take advantage of the open and intelligent network. As a result, developers now have a huge opportunity to monetize and differentiate their offerings using the network."

Cisco said DevNet has grown at a rate of 40 percent since it went live and now features more than 100 APIs. The company is predicting year-over-year growth of 55 percent en route to the projected 1 million participants.

The big picture.
[Click on image for larger view.] The big picture. (source: Cisco Systems Inc.)

"Core to the Cisco developer strategy, Cisco DevNet is a new and growing developer community that offers the tools and resources for them to integrate their software with Cisco infrastructure," Wee said today. "Developers can tap the DevNet ecosystem and use the tools and community to create innovative network-aware applications.

"DevNet helps developers drive productivity and innovation by lowering barriers of entry and by providing a variety of resources, including engineering platform APIs, SDKs, ready-to-use code samples, a developer sandbox, developer support, and community management."

Wee also announced that DevNet will serve as the delivery vehicle for Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC EM) for building network-aware applications. The SDN controller is a key component of the company's flavor of SDN. The controller -- currently in beta -- will work with other components to "improve" upon SDN as part of the Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) initiative.

The APIC EM was originally forecast for release in the second quarter of this year, according to reports. The APIC EM page on the DevNet site says the final API for the controller will be released "early this summer."

In addition to the APIC EM page, DevNet features color-coded Dev Centers under the main categories of Networking, Collaboration, Data Center and DevNet Developer Services.

Drilling down into Networking, for example, reveals details of the APIC EM preliminary APIs:

The APIC EM API allows the deployment and execution of application policy across your networking infrastructure. This document contains the details of the northbound REST API that is designed for use by developers within Enterprises. APIC EM features a southbound API that communicates with individual routers and switches in the network that uses the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI) over protocols such as SSH, HTTP, Telnet and others.

Wee capsulized the DevNet site thusly:

  • API development: In areas such as SDN, Internet of Things (IoT), collaboration, connected mobile experience and security, Cisco is investing in API development, providing developers with everything required to build Cisco technologies into their applications quickly and efficiently, and enhance our core offerings.
  • API management: Cisco is building API management capabilities through a partnership with Mulesoft to enable developers to more easily access REST-based APIs.
  • Development tools: Cisco is investing in SDKs, API tutorials, and a developer sandbox so developers can easily integrate with Cisco technology with minimal investment. Cisco’s DevNet sandbox program eliminates the cost and time of acquiring lab equipment and the technical staff to maintain it. Additionally, it allows developers to test application use cases before deployment.
  • Shared expertise: To fuel and support the DevNet community, Cisco is building a team of developer evangelists, community managers, and developer support engineers. These resources provide networking professionals with guidance on programmable networks and how to best utilize DevNet for developer productivity.

An earlier version of the site came in for some strong criticism from developers such as Colin McNamara, who penned an "Open letter to Cisco about DevNet" in February, but Cisco has tried to address such concerns.

"DevNet is impossible to use," McNamara said in the long and detailed letter. Wee and others from Cisco responded and made some changes that McNamara later applauded. "Susie and her teams responded to public feedback and [improved] the developer experience," he wrote in March.

Registering for DevNet requires a Cisco ID.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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