Difference Between Cisco DNA and ACI

Cisco is the leading network equipment industry and provides a varied range of network solutions. Cisco DNA and ACI are technical terms and people often get confused with its configuration.


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DNA stands for Digital Network Architecture and ACI stands for Application Centric information. These are the latest technology networks for the server infrastructure.

Cisco DNA Vs ACI

The difference between Cisco DNA and ACI is that Cisco DNA is internet-based networking that includes certain features that lead to the automation of IWAN administration and deployment whereas Cisco ACI is software-based networking that creates, customizes the network policies.

Cisco DNA Vs ACI

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Cisco DNA goes beyond the technology-centric collection of network technologies and focuses on integrating these technologies into a holistic architecture that achieves business goals.

In an enterprise architectural path to digital transformation, Cisco DNA is a technique to make network services relevant and easy to use.

The Cisco ACI architectural approach weaves security into the fabric of today’s dynamic, application-oriented data centers continuously and ubiquitously.

Cisco ACI provides visibility across the whole application and service-oriented environment, as well as across the attack lifecycle.

Cisco ACI Security enables businesses to install security controls more quickly and effectively where and when they’re needed. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCisco DNAACI
DefinitionCisco DNA is a software-based solution for automating and ensuring operations across wide area networks, campus networks, and local networks.Application-centric infrastructure, or Cisco ACI, is a comprehensive design with centralized automated and policy-driven application profiles.
TechnologyEdge configuration that can be tailored to each edge.Edge configuration along with centralized configuration from APIC GUI. 
FeaturesCustomized border nodes, manually configured ISIS on each device until automated LAN is present, switch mode can be of any type as long as Cisco DNA is enabled.All switches and controllers must be running the same version of the software, the configuration of all spines is the same, APIC is used to push ISIS to all devices.
ApplicationsWAN or campusDatacenter
Platform DeliveryManagement and Control PlatformApplication-oriented platform

What is Cisco DNA?

Cisco DNA serves as a link between your team and an intent-based network. It’s a software-driven, open, extensible architecture that speeds up and simplifies enterprise network operations while lowering costs and lowering risk. 

Only Cisco can bring automation and assurance across your whole business at scale, thanks to a single network fabric powered by deep intelligence and integrated security. 

Cisco DNA frees IT, staff, from time-consuming, repetitive network configuration procedures, allowing them to focus on the innovation that their company requires.

Cisco DNA automation and security are based on an SDN controller, sophisticated contextual analytics, network virtualization, and the cloud’s infinite extensibility.

Cisco DNA is available in three subscription packages: Cisco ONE Advantage, which is SD-Access and Assurance ready;

Cisco DNA Advantage, which is SD-Access and Assurance competent; and Cisco DNA Essentials, which provides basic monitoring and automation. 

Cisco ONE Advantage is the most comprehensive offer, combining policy-based automation with SD-Access, Cisco DNA increases assurance and security. Cisco ONE Advantage allows customers to enable all Cisco DNA usage cases.

Advantages of Cisco DNA:

  1. Deliver distinctive experiences using contextual insights to accelerate innovation.
  1. With faster network service provisioning, you can increase your business agility.
  1. Reduced network installation time and faster troubleshooting results in lower expenses.
  1. Reduce risk by detecting threats faster.

What is ACI?

Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) is a cutting-edge architecture that streamlines optimizers and speeds the whole application deployment process.

Cisco ACI has a holistic systems-based strategy that includes tight integration of physical and virtual aspects, an open ecosystem concept, and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), hardware, and software innovation. 

This novel strategy employs a uniform policy-based operating model across network and security aspects to enable Cisco ACI (computing; storage in the future), breaking down IT silos and lowering costs and complexity.

To support on-demand provisioning and dynamic scaling of applications, enterprises must automate security rules as they migrate to next-generation data centers and cloud environments. 

The manual, device-centric approach to security management is insecure and prone to errors. 

The security policies must be transported with the application endpoints as application workloads are added, modified, and migrated in an agile data center environment. 

To safeguard east-west traffic and handle application mobility, dynamic policy development, and deletion are required. 

Visibility into traffic is critical for detecting and mitigating emerging advanced targeted threats as well as securing tenants.

To meet security concerns for next-generation data centers and cloud settings, Cisco ACI Security Solution takes a holistic, systems-based approach.

With previous overlay-based network virtualization security devices, which have limited access and scalability and require extra control of underlay and overlay network elements and security protocols, this solution provides both transparency and scalability.

The Cisco ACI Security Solution uses an application-centric approach and a common policy-based operations model to address the security needs of the next-generation data center,

ensuring compliance and reducing the risk of security breaches.

Main differences Between Cisco DNA And ACI

  1. Cisco DNA is designed to support internet-based networking whereas Cisco ACI is designed to expand the performance of network automation.
  1. Cisco DNA is more of a technology architecture but Cisco ACI is a network architecture.
  1. Cisco DNA doesn’t include any policy infrastructure controller whereas ACI includes an APIC, (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller).
  1. In the case of underlay in Cisco DNA ISIS is manually configured whereas ISIS is automatically published in the case of Cisco ACI.
  1. In Cisco DNA if we have to upgrade the controller we have to download the image from the cloud while to upgrade the controller in ACI we have to download the image from CCO.
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=SmyBDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT52&dq=cisco+dna+and+cisco+aci&ots=T1p3onglxH&sig=3Hhq6ZWBb9TgD3N1IrPhQaY-w_0
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/8883558/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352864820302418
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