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Unpacking Cisco DNA Center (Part 1 of 3): Base Automation Use Case – Network Plug and Play & RMA

November 11, 2019

Note: The following is the first of a three-part technical blog series focusing on some of the main use cases behind Cisco DNA Center – the network management, command center, and analytics platform for Cisco DNA (Digital Network Architecture)

When it comes to Cisco DNA Center, we tend to typically associate this with Software-Defined Access (or SD-Access) as its primary use case. And just so we’re on the same page, SD-Access is a fantastic architecture that simplifies network segmentation and user-based policy, and ultimately allows you to build, deploy, and manage networks faster.

But we know that different organizations run at a different pace, and not everyone requires the same features and functionality—networks aren’t exactly ‘one size fits all’. What if we you are not yet ready to deploy SD-Access in your network? Can we you still leverage Cisco DNA Center in your traditional campus and branch environments?

The answer to this question is absolutely! Cisco DNA Center dramatically simplifies the way we roll out services in our network and the way we find and solve problems. In this blog, we will be focusing in on a simple yet effective use case: how to automatically onboard new devices into our networks. Using some quick tutorial videos, we will then follow with a common and much-requested functionality: how to automatically replace a defective device.

Let’s get started…

With Network Plug and Play (PnP) we can get a new router, a new switch, or a new AP, connect it to our network, turn it on and simply allow Cisco DNA Center to work its magic; pushing the right OS and the right config to such each device. In short, the PnP application provides a way to automatically and remotely provision and onboard any new network devices with minimal network admin and field personnel involvement. Users find this use case feature very attractive since it allows them to save costs associated with pre-staging devices, shipping costs, and sending IT savvy technicians on-site.

Here’s a better look at how Network Plug and Play works in real-time (click to watch demo):



The second piece to this use case is around defective device management and how we’ve drastically simplified the process directly within Cisco DNA Center. With DNA-C 1.3.1, Network Plug and Play is now supporting Return Material Authorization (RMA) workflows – which means when we encounter a defective device in our network, we simply just need to flag it as a candidate for replacement in the dashboard, and then select the replacement device—allowing Cisco DNA Center to take care of the rest.

Let’s walk through this one in more detail…


Hope that helps provide a better understanding of Cisco DNA Center use cases in the traditional campus and branch. Stay tuned for my next blog on how to greatly simplify the upgrade of images within your infrastructure where we will cover how to cover the end to end platform upgrade process including selecting and importing your image, to performing checks and software maintenance updates. More to come!



Liking this type of content? Click here for more Cisco DNA Center ‘how-to’ videos and technical resources



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  1. Awesome article Lila! I wasn't aware of the RMA workflows feature. Looking forward to read the next two parts 🙂