In this episode of our ongoing DNA Center Automation Series, we will focus on PnP Preparation and setting up a lab or production environment to enable this capability. As this lab is the first one in a series of labs, it aims to understand the various concepts required to support Plug and Play (PnP). The labs referenced within this series, as was previously mentioned, were designed for use in the DCLOUD environment; however, you may equally utilize them as part of a Proof of Concept setup at a customer’s lab. These procedures may also help form part of a deployment or implementation. You may use these procedures to ensure that all the necessary steps are complete before onboarding any devices within DNA Center.

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 DNAC 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

What will I learn in the PnP Preparation Lab?

We will gain a thorough understanding of the various services required to support Plug and Play with DNA Center during this lab. Some of those concepts on which we have previously discussed in either the DNA Center Template repository or via other Cisco Blogs written by Adam Radford. Within the lab, we will concentrate our efforts on a practical understanding of how to set up the environment to ensure successful testing and facilitate an easier adoption of automation.

The PnP Preparation lab will guide you through setting up the various requirements of Plug and Play. The explanations and the various configuration snippets will ensure that you can have a device successfully discover DNA Center. The labs have been built using dCLOUD, as explained in part one of this series. For connection details:

PnP Preparation schematic
Figure 1. PnP Preparation schematic

Seed Device

Initially starting with the upstream device, we set up the required layer 3 and layer 2 connectivity with various examples. Additionally, we set up a seed device to provide direct connectivity to the target. We consider the seed device as a distribution switch with an SVI for the management network in our examples. Moreover, all the configurations are in the form of snippets that may be used in a standalone way or as part of a larger script to aid with PnP Preparation.

DHCP and DNS Services

The guide will walk you through setting up the required services, which Plug and Play Onboarding utilizes. DHCP is required to automatically configure an address for the device to connect to DNA Center. During the lab, we will set up DHCP either on a Switch or on a server. The lab walks through both methods and gives configuration snippets for you to choose from.

Discovery Methodology

Depending on the environment you are working with, you may prefer one discovery method over another. Within the lab and within the other sections of the GitHub repository, we discuss one method over another and give configuration snippets allowing you to quickly set up the desired method ensuring the supporting services are additionally in place. The various methods of discovery range from:

DHCP with Option 43  – ASCII connection string giving the Target device the address to DNA Center Option 43DNS lookup – pnpserver host entry allowing Target to resolve the address to DNA Center

DNS Discovery

Each of these methods has dependencies and configuration, and we cover those equally within the lab.

Testing Methods

The lab then ensures success through various testing methods, which you can utilize to ensure each service is working. Additionally, the device lands on DNA Center as the lab concludes.

How can I get started?

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. In addition, 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. In addition, the sample templates and JSON files supplied are for easy import into DNA 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. Finally, the lab PnP Preparation content explains the overall Plug and Play setup steps.

Where can I test and try these labs?

dCLOUD Lab Environment

To help customers succeed with Cisco DNA Center automation, you may utilize the above labs as they have been designed to work within dCLOUD’s Cisco Enterprise Networks Hardware Sandbox Labs. 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.

Lab Connectivity

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.


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

Additional Information

DNAC Template LABS

Additional labs aim to guide you through the typical steps required to enable the various automation tasks delivered by DNA Center. This lab will give examples of templates used in DNA Center to modify 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 DNA 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 DNA 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. Finally, 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.

Additional Labs

Please use this menu to navigate the various sections of this Github repository. Within the multiple folders are examples, explanation readme files for reference.

  • PnP Preparation – The lab covers setup for Plug and Play (allow 1.5 hrs)
  • Onboarding Templates – The lab covers in depth how to deploy Day 0 templates (allow 1.5 hrs)
  • Day N Templates – The lab covers Day N template constructs and use cases (allow 0.5 hrs)
  • Composite Templates – This lab covers building a composite template on DNA Center (allow 0.5 hrs)
  • Application Policys – This lab covers Application Policys & SDAVC in DNAC (allow 1.0 hrs)
  • Telemetry – This lab explains how to deploy Telemetry for assurance (allow 0.5 hrs)
  • Advanced Automation – This lab will explore Advanced Automation examples (allow 1.5 hrs)
  • Dynamic Automation – This lab will use many Advanced Automation techniques discussed previously (allow 2.0 hrs)

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

In conclusion, if you found this set of labs and repository helpful,

please fill in comments and 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