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Device onboarding made simple with Catalyst 9000 Day Zero Solutions

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manshar4
Cisco Employee

Enterprise Networking is constantly evolving and a significant number of new devices in wired, wireless, and IOT segments are being added. There is a need for a solution which provides a secure, reliable, and agile way to onboard and provision network devices. Deploying and provisioning new devices in the network has always been challenging since the expectation is to make more network changes in shorter time and with less resources. Manual changes have many times led to unplanned network outages and automated solutions are a great way avoid these types of outages.

 

Why is a Day 0 Provisioning Solution needed?

  • As high as 70% policy violations are due to human error
  • Manual configuration is much slower and prone to simple mistakes
  • Automation can reduce OpEx costs on network changes and provisioning

 

The Catalyst 9000 Series Day 0 Solutions have been designed to overcome all these difficulties. The modular and open IOS-XE software and UADP ASIC on the Catalyst 9000 series switches provides faster and easier deployments compared to traditional solutions.

The Catalyst 9000 series switches support the below features as part of Day 0 Onboarding:

  1. Network Plug and Play
  2. Zero Touch Provisioning
  3. iPXE
  4. Web User Interface(Web UI)

Network Plug and Play : The Cisco Network PnP solution provides a simple, secure, integrated and complete UI based offering for enterprise network customers to ease new branch, campus device rollouts or to provision updates to existing network. Network PnP solution typically requires a server running  PnP protocol such as DNAC and the switches to be provisioned work as PnP Agent by default. In order to enable PnP, first a DHCP server with option 43 must be configured

          

                      For example:

                      ip dhcp pool <name>

                      network 192.168.1.0  255.255.255.0

                      default-router 192.168.1.1

                      option 43 ascii “5A1N;B2;K4;I<DNAC_IP>;J80”

 

When a Catalyst 9000 switch boots up with no configuration it automatically attempts to pull down a DHCP address and leveraging DHCP option 43 configured on server the device initiates PnP communication to download  the configuration. The PnP solution provides complete UI based workflow and the communication is secured by SUDI based authentication. Customer can also leverage the use of PnP Connect which is an optional cloud component for automatic PNP server discovery if the DHCP or DNS methods are not available.

                          Picture1.png

Learn More in the PnP Feature Guide

 

Zero Touch Provisioning :  The ZTP solution is designed to work with standard protocols like TFTP and HTTP.  When a Switch boots up with no configuration it locates the DHCP server, starts the Linux Guest Shell container, and uses the Python API to configure the switch. The DHCP server uses Option 67 to specify a Python file that is executed. Guest shell provides the environment to execute the downloaded python script and enables complete device configuration. Catalyst 9000 Switches support Python 3 from 17.1.1 release onwards.

                       Picture2.png

Learn More about ZTP in the Blog

                         Picture3.png

iPXE:   The iPXE Solution is enhanced version of Pre-boot Execution Environment which is open standard for network booting. Network bootloaders support booting from network-based source and can download/boot/load the device from FTP/TFTP or HTTP server. Upon Switch Power-on the bootloader sends the DHCP discover message to locate the DHCP server. The DHCP server response contains the IP address and boot file name indicating the location of the boot file. Bootloader then downloads and boots the image from the network source.

Learn More in the IOS XE Programmability Configuration Guide  or at DevNet Guide

 

Web User Interface(WebUI) : Web UI is an on-box solution best suited for small or branch deployments. It is essentially an embedded GUI-based device management tool that simplifies the Switch deployment and manageability. It is a very intuitive tool which helps to deploy/monitor and troubleshoot the device without using CLI.

                          Picture4.png

 

Learn More about  Catalyst 9000 WebUI  

 

As many enterprises are running with limited staff availability (e.g. due to Covid Pandemic or other causes) it is a major challenge to deploy or scale network infrastructure. With these intelligent automated solutions an Enterprise can achieve the increasing scale or deployment requirements with very little human interaction.the safety of their IT resources without compromising on growing business demands.

Since these solutions meet variety of deployments/use case here is a small assessment  that helps to evaluate the best suited feature based on the requirements:

 

 

PnP

ZTP

iPXE

WebUI

Complete UI Workflow

 

 

Automated Certificates

 

 

 

Requires Cisco DNAC

 

 

 

Ability to run scripts

 

 

 

Provision multiple Devices

 

On box Solution