Over the years, as new technology has been introduced, there has always been a barrier to adoption. While automation is powerful, we need to test it fully. Delays in getting started are typically caused by the wait on lab equipment. If it’s not lab equipment, it’s licensing or the time required to set up and cable the equipment. This, together with the development time, resources, and scheduling, makes the whole activity painful. This typically causes a gap between the time technology is launched to the time it is adopted. It also means that there is a learning curve which typically adds even more delay to adoption by organizations. This leaves one to ask exactly how do I get started with Catalyst Center Templates.

But what if there was a better way?

DCLOUD is a Cisco environment that provides curated content labs. DCLOUD allows the user a new way of experiencing the Cisco portfolio. It allows the user to try out the new technology in a safe environment. It also helps to save time, reduce shipping costs, licensing issues, power, and cooling needs. All this and while still allowing an environment to test various features and functions.

The Catalyst Center Automation Series

We will explain each of the labs in our ongoing Catalyst Center Automation Series, The labs are set up to help you learn more about templating, Plug and Play, and Day N automation. Together with helpful labs and guided examples that can be downloaded and implemented within DCLOUD or modified for use in your own lab environment.

Within this series, we cover the following;

  1. PnP Preparation – explains the overall Plug and Play set up steps
  2. Onboarding Templates – explains in-depth how to deploy Day 0 templates
  3. Day N Templates – dives into Day N template constructs with both regular and composite templates and use cases
  4. Application Policys – explores Application Policys and SD-AVC in Catalyst Center and their use
  5. Telemetry – explains how to deploy Telemetry for assurance
  6. Advanced Automation – explores Advanced Automation techniques
  7. Dynamic Automation – a deployment lab for dynamic automation

Within DCLOUD, several sandbox-type labs are available. These self-contained environments are there to allow you to use them as you please within the time scheduled. This allows us a place to start practicing various concepts without fear of impacting production environments. Therefore, to aid customers in the transition toward automation, we have put together a set of small helpful labs within a GitHub repository.

As a result, we hope to demystify some of the complexities of setting up plug-and-play and help guide customers through the complexities and caveats. In this way, these self-guided labs provide a glimpse into the fundamentals of building velocity templates and provide examples that you can download and expand from. The sample templates and JSON files supplied are for easy import into Catalyst Centers’ template editor for quicker adoption. Lastly, some scripts are ready-made excerpts of code that allow you to build the environment to test.

First, in a practical lab guide, we step by step delve into the concepts of building templates and methodologies for using both Onboarding and DayN templates. Second, we provide answers and explanations to many of the questions that come up during automation workshops. Our hope is that you find the information both helpful and informative. Thus, we hope to give a well-rounded explanation of automation methods and concepts that we can easily expand upon for production purposes.

The lab content is located within the existing DNAC-TEMPLATES repository, giving you a one-stop-shop for all the necessary tools, scripts, templates, and code samples. Within it are four labs, which build upon the tutorials allowing you to test the methods in a lab environment. The repository was featured in a previous post on Cisco Blogs about Catalyst Center Templates earlier in May 2021.

Catalyst Center Template Labs

The previously named DNAC Template LABS within the DNAC-TEMPLATES GitHub repository aim to guide you through the typical steps required to enable the various automation tasks delivered by Catalyst Center. This lab will give examples of templates used in Catalyst Center that we can modify for our use and test on equipment within the LAB environment. Additional information within the lab provides a well-rounded explanation of Automation methods with Templates. Lastly, the lab allows for customers to use Catalyst Center workflows to practice deploying Onboarding, DayN Templates, and Application Policy automation on both Wired and Wireless Platforms.

The goal of this lab is for it to be a practical guide to aid engineers to rapidly begin using Catalyst Center automation and help them work towards a template strategy. Additionally, this lab will give customers a permanent place to try out the templates and include configurations for various use cases. This environment will enable engineers to reduce the time and effort needed to instantiate the network.

As a result, you will gain experience in setting up Plug and Play onboarding and templates. Additionally, you will use advanced templating methods and troubleshooting tools. These may help during faultfinding to determine what is failing in a deployment.

Catalyst Center Labs

Please use this menu to navigate the various sections of this GitHub repository. Within the multiple folders are examples and explanation readme files for reference. There are now two sets of labs, and these are being continually expanded upon.

New Catalyst Center Lab Content

This newer and more modular lab approach is designed to deal with and includes concepts from the legacy labs in a newer more modular format.

  1. Lab 1 Wired Automation – Covers green and brownfield use cases (allow 4.0 hrs)
  2. Lab 2 Wireless Automation – Covers traditional wireless automation (allow 4.0 hrs)

Legacy Lab Content

In this section you will continue to find all the existing labs which deal with specifics in separate easy to do labs.

We will share additional labs and content in an ongoing effort to fulfill all your automation needs with Catalyst Center.

DCLOUD Lab Environment

To help customers succeed with Cisco Catalyst Center automation, you may utilize the above labs as they have been designed to work within DCLOUD’s Cisco Enterprise Networks Hardware Sandbox Labs in either:

  1. Cisco Enterprise Networks Hardware Sandbox West DC
  2. Cisco Enterprise Networks Hardware Sandbox East DC

The DCLOUD labs allow you to run these labs and gives an environment to try the various code samples. You may choose to develop and export your code for use in production environments. Also, this gives you an environment where you can safely POC/POV methods and steps without harming your production environments. The DCLOUD environment also negates the need for shipping equipment, lead times, and licensing issues needed to get moving rapidly. Please do adhere to the best practices for the DCLOUD environment when using it.

Keith Baldwin dcloud environment
Figure 1. DCLOUD environment

The DCLOUD environment consists of the following:


Catalyst Center or better
Identity Services Engine (ISE) 3.0 Patch 4 or better (Not Configured)
Stealthwatch 7.4 or better
FlowCollector 7.4 or better
Cisco Prime Infrastructure 3.10 or better
Wireless LAN Controller - C9800 running IOS-XE Amsterdam 17.3.3 code.
Windows 10 Jump Host 
Windows Server 2019 - Can be configured to provide identity, DHCP, DNS, etc.
Windows 10 Clients 


ISR 4451 Router - 17.06.01a IOS-XE Code
Catalyst 9300 Switch - 17.06.01 IOS-XE Code with Embedded Wireless Controller (EWC) and ThousandEyes Enterprise Agent
9130AX Access Points
Silex Controller (2 NIC's)

The environment allows for use with a web-based browser client for VPN-less connectivity, access as well as AnyConnect VPN client connectivity for those who prefer it. You may choose from labs hosted out of our San Jose Facilities by selecting US West. Choose the Cisco Enterprise Network Sandbox. To access this or any other content, including demonstrations, labs, and training in DCLOUD please work with your Cisco Account team or Cisco Partner Account Team directly. Your Account teams will schedule the session and share it for you to use. Once booked follow the guide within GitHub to complete the tasks adhering to the best practices of the DCLOUD environment.

If you found this set of labs and repository helpful, please

provide comments or feedback on how it could be improved.

We’d love to hear what you think. Ask a question or leave a comment below.
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Keith Baldwin

Solutions Engineer

Campus Automation CoE for Enterprise Networking