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Can I automate my network without using C9000 switches?

JWHolm81891
Beginner
Beginner

First off, it was my understanding that the C9000 switches were the only SDN switches Cisco has. It was also my understanding that you need SDN switches to be compatible with DNAC and to automate the management of those devices. After talking with a rep from Presidio, he very condescendingly advised me that I don't need C9000 switches to be able to automate them. So, now I'm confused. I'm new to automation and all things SDN in the real world, but I thought I had a grasp of things at least. Maybe I don't.  

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Claudia de Luna
Rising star
Rising star

Hi @JWHolm81891 

 

I know it can be confusing and much depends on how people interpret acronyms and terms so let me try to give it a shot. 

 

With or without SDN, you can apply automation to your switches.  I work with Catalyst and Nexus switches daily and we can execute automation scripts against them.  We can use Zero touch (ZTP) scripts to provision them, get them on the network, and then push configurations to them.  We automate the configuration creation.  I personally have done most of this (ZTP has some dependencies and will not work on older switches) on Catalyst 2960s, 3750s, 3850s, 9300s, 9500s and Nexus switches.   I believe that is what your Presidio rep was trying to convey.

Now the trickier question.  Cisco has a few Software Defined Network options.  The two I'll highlight are:

- ACI in the Data Center (ACI is basically a turnkey VXLAN fabric for your data center entirely controlled by a cluster of controllers - very powerful)

- Software Defined Access or SDA for the Campus...similar conceptually to ACI (at least that is how I like to think of it)

There are ways to achieve a fabric in an automated manner with other management tools but I don't see clients doing that too much.

 

Now Managing your network infrastructure with a particular tool like DNAC.   There you are only limited by the DNAC Support matrix.

Notice in the Matrix below you have a couple of options (ignoring Prime): either DNAC (for management) or SDA (which requires DNAC for SDA).

 

DNAC Compatability Matrix

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/cloud-systems-management/dna-center/products-device-support-tables-list.html

If you have chance, play around with the options, for example select DNAC (not SDA) and look at all the "Applications" available.  you can see that the matrix starts with C2960s. 

dnac-2022-07-08_07-05-25.jpg

 

If you do the same with the SDA you can get a sense of the SDA applications and you will notice that the compatible hardware is more limited.

 

So on the face of it, do you need C9Ks to support automation (Python, Ansible, a 3rd party platform with support for your hardware): No

 

Do you need C9Ks to manage them with DNAC:  Yes, but DNAC also supports other models.

or

Can DNAC only manage C9Ks: No

 

Do you need C9Ks to deploy SDA (which includes DNAC): Yes, that would be my recommendation although today I believe the 3850s and maybe some 6800s are supported in some fashion.

I know, I've been pretty conceptual and the devil is in the details (and the compatibility matrix for what you are trying to do!) but I hope some of this helps to clarify a little.

 

View solution in original post

3 Replies 3

Claudia de Luna
Rising star
Rising star

Hi @JWHolm81891 

 

I know it can be confusing and much depends on how people interpret acronyms and terms so let me try to give it a shot. 

 

With or without SDN, you can apply automation to your switches.  I work with Catalyst and Nexus switches daily and we can execute automation scripts against them.  We can use Zero touch (ZTP) scripts to provision them, get them on the network, and then push configurations to them.  We automate the configuration creation.  I personally have done most of this (ZTP has some dependencies and will not work on older switches) on Catalyst 2960s, 3750s, 3850s, 9300s, 9500s and Nexus switches.   I believe that is what your Presidio rep was trying to convey.

Now the trickier question.  Cisco has a few Software Defined Network options.  The two I'll highlight are:

- ACI in the Data Center (ACI is basically a turnkey VXLAN fabric for your data center entirely controlled by a cluster of controllers - very powerful)

- Software Defined Access or SDA for the Campus...similar conceptually to ACI (at least that is how I like to think of it)

There are ways to achieve a fabric in an automated manner with other management tools but I don't see clients doing that too much.

 

Now Managing your network infrastructure with a particular tool like DNAC.   There you are only limited by the DNAC Support matrix.

Notice in the Matrix below you have a couple of options (ignoring Prime): either DNAC (for management) or SDA (which requires DNAC for SDA).

 

DNAC Compatability Matrix

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/cloud-systems-management/dna-center/products-device-support-tables-list.html

If you have chance, play around with the options, for example select DNAC (not SDA) and look at all the "Applications" available.  you can see that the matrix starts with C2960s. 

dnac-2022-07-08_07-05-25.jpg

 

If you do the same with the SDA you can get a sense of the SDA applications and you will notice that the compatible hardware is more limited.

 

So on the face of it, do you need C9Ks to support automation (Python, Ansible, a 3rd party platform with support for your hardware): No

 

Do you need C9Ks to manage them with DNAC:  Yes, but DNAC also supports other models.

or

Can DNAC only manage C9Ks: No

 

Do you need C9Ks to deploy SDA (which includes DNAC): Yes, that would be my recommendation although today I believe the 3850s and maybe some 6800s are supported in some fashion.

I know, I've been pretty conceptual and the devil is in the details (and the compatibility matrix for what you are trying to do!) but I hope some of this helps to clarify a little.

 

Thank you. That was an awesome explanation! Thank you for taking the time to pay it out. I can say I learned today and that's always good.

balaji.bandi
VIP Community Legend VIP Community Legend
VIP Community Legend

You can do Autmation any device - depends on what you looking to do ?

Not necessary to be CAT 9K (but cisco future is Cat 9K only towards)  - you do not need to have SDN, you can make your own frame work also (if you have internal expertice available ) - many cisco dev document offer this to do.

Cisco also offer Free DNA appliance part of package, but the question after 3 years, what is the cost to maintain is big question.

 

 

BB

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