Cisco DNA Center Deployment Tips

This blog post covers some tips to consider in any Cisco DNA Center project.

DNA Center is a highly capable management platform - to get the most from it though, you need to deploy it correctly. Here's our top tips to look out for when deploying DNAC!

There are many considerations when deploying DNAC. This blog offers some insight from engineers who have extensive experience in DNAC deployments.
Cisco DNA Center Deployment
These considerations will apply no matter what usage path you are going down - Assurance, some basic element management and automation or full-blown Software-Defined Access (SDA).
Let's get into it - top tips for DNAC Deployments.
Need help with your DNAC install? Check out our blog on Cisco DNA Center Enablement.

Cisco DNA Center Features

First things first - what are the key features you intend to leverage in Cisco DNA Center?
Hopefully, these features are informed by the key business outcomes from the platform (effective requirements discovery for this paradigm-shifting platform is worthy of its own blog post).
Cisco DNA Center Assurance (Instagram)This will influence installation requirements.
There is a long list of ways in which Cisco DNA Center accesses managed devices and vice versa, varying by function.
It is best to deploy Cisco DNA Center in its "final location" where it can and will be used for both lab, pilot and production use.
Moving Cisco DNA Center is no small feat and best avoided.

DNAC: Goals and Objectives

When looking at how Cisco DNA Center features can be used to meet objectives, it pays to have an open mind. It's possible that Cisco DNA Center can achieve the technical goals you have, albeit not in the way you expect or have used previously.
Try taking a step back from the feature requirement to understand, at the end of whatever is used, what needs to be the outcome.
With those outcome requirements in hand, you can assess Cisco DNA Center features for suitability. From there you need to know what the feature can do, what it cannot do and what is supported.
Of course there will likely be some effort in repurposing or retraining operators in the new way of doing things, but the effort of doing this can only be quantified if you establish the delta between core technical goals and Cisco DNA Center's offerings.

DNA Center Test Lab

Having a test environment to test features on is incredibly valuable. It is best if this environment is entirely lab designated with no production usage.
Cisco SD-Access Part 1 (Feature Image)It goes without saying that as an automation-capable controller, improper usage of Cisco DNA Center on production equipment can have significant service impact.
Better to iron any wrinkles out in a test environment!
The more this testing environment resembles your production environment, the better. Key things to mimic include device families, software versions used, configuration and topology.
How transferrable the learnings from this testing environment depends on how closely the environment mimics production.


DNA Center Versions

There are also subtle changes that can occur from version to version of Cisco DNA Center which slip between the cracks if you are not diligent about reading the documentation for each new version of Cisco DNA Center you upgrade to.
The way these enhancements interact with bespoke configuration is often unforeseen and not recommended to see first-hand in production! Cisco DNA Center is a controller platform over large swathes of the network, so it's not the kind of thing you want to get wrong.

While on that topic, it is worth mentioning that feature use is usually not mutually inclusive and differs in how invasive they are on configuration.
For example, leveraging Assurance doesn't require turning on SDA. On top of that, the amount of configuration "required" by both feature is very different - basically on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as Cisco DNA Center automation goes.
At the end of the day, a thorough understanding of the feature enables the user to understand whether the feature can be used as-is on top of the network currently, or requires changes to enable use.

Cisco DNA Center Deployment: Summary

This blog post is non-exhaustive in terms of considerations to make to achieve proper installation and enablement of popular use cases (e.g. Assurance).

ZTA Zero Trust Architecture (Instagram)To provide purpose-built, specific help on getting customers to a point where they understand how to use certain features and expand the usage (and value) of that feature across their network, we have packages such as the Cisco DNA Center Assurance Enablement package.

This package can take a lot of the heavy-lifting out of enabling Cisco DNA Center and ensure you're on the path to realising Cisco DNA Center value. For more information, don't hesitate to reach out to your IPTel representative!

Hopefully these few tips are of use in getting you started on your DNA Center journey. There's a lot to consider when deploying such an all encompassing management platform, such as DNAC, so taking an initial step back and planning your install will save a lot of time down the track.




Free Quote


Need Help with your Network Install?

If you’re looking for a partner to help you through the future of networking – or to help you work through the maze of how to upgrade your network, we're here to help.

Contacting us is easy:

We are experts in network design and especially Wi-Fi design and remediation and Cisco ISE. If you're ready to take the plunge, we're ready to help you with DNA Center and SDA too. 

IPTel Solutions - Experts in Network Engineering Excellence


Click to Download "Top 8 Secrets to Great Wi-Fi"