Cisco DNA Center: Building Onboarding Templates


One of the benefits that Cisco’s DNA Center provides is the ability to make onboarding new devices very easy. Whether it is just getting the device on the network or fully configuring the device to be ready for deployment, there are definitely options to get it accomplished. This post will cover the first option and that is using onboarding templates. To do that, I am going to once again be using an instant lab from Cisco and their dCloud platform. It never fails to be a great way to demo and lab Cisco technologies and is perfect for this example.

What is an Onboarding Template?

As I mentioned in an earlier post titledĀ Cisco DNA Center Templates : Onboarding vs Day-N, onboarding templates are generally used as a one time template to configure a basic config on a device to get it on your network and able to be managed. Another use is when you have a standard configuration that does not need many modifications. Let’s say you have a range of small branch offices where the configurations on their switches are mostly the same, onboarding templates can load that config for you where minimal changes are needed afterwards.

Creating an Onboarding Template

I am working with DNA Center 2.1 for this, but others are similar and you should be able to find the correct section to work with. To begin my onboarding template, I select Tools -> Template Editor once logged into DNA Center. I should be at the following screen:

You can select the “Onboarding Configurations” option on the left and see any templates that are already present. Within the dCloud lab, there are a few to get you started if you are looking for something that is already ready to go:

Let’s start looking at the Small-Branch-Template. Once opened, you’ll see it looks like a complete switch config… That’s because it is.

You can go this route if you have a pretty standard config or you can configure just the bare minimum. That’s up to you. There is one thing to notice though. Check out that hostname near the beginning of the config snapshot above. Notice the variable for the hostname ($hostname)? This is where using templates makes things easy for you going forward. Things that change each time they are used based on what device they are applied to can be configured using variables. Users will then receive a form to complete before applying the template to fill in those variables. Things like hostnames, management IP addresses, and more can be changed for each device you deploy to when variables are used. In the top right corner, there is a button to open the form editor where you can customize the form before you finish your template. It populates form items based on the variables you previously entered in your config. You can pre-fill text in the form or put information regarding what the user should enter in that box such as format of an IP address, etc.

From there, you can add this template as a valid option under your Network Profile options for whatever devices you want, whether it’s based on tag, model number, etc. The template should then show up as an option when trying to add a new plug and play device to your network.

Again though, you can go the other route with your onboarding templates and configure nothing but management IP addresses, admin credentials, and go from there. If you are looking for more dynamic profiles that can be updated and re-applied over and over at a later time when you need to update your devices, you will want to consider Day-N templates.



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