Are there any alternatives to meet a small auto provisioning server for a Cisco switch (Cat3850)? I'm working to setting up a "plug and play" capable Cisco switch (Cat3850) in small isolated lab. I unfortunate don't have access to the DevNet sandbox. I'm constrained for compute resources in this lab and the VM host requirements for the free APIC-EM download are a bit stiff.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

  • I doubt you want a simple yes/no answer, but unfortunately, product or resource recommendations are explicitly off-topic here.
    – Ron Maupin
    May 28, 2016 at 1:42
  • If I amended my question to say something such as 'how to bootstrap lab cat3850?'
    – brickz_va
    May 28, 2016 at 1:52
  • What sort of lab configuration do you have? There are ways to do this if you have the correct sort of equipment configured in the lab.
    – Ron Maupin
    May 28, 2016 at 1:54
  • Small branch (ISR4451 with cat3850) connected via simulated ISP/DMVPN to HQ (ASR1002-X). I'm trying to do a "lowest touch possible" switch deployment/provisioning. Ubuntu DNS/DHCP/syslog () system also configured to provide basic services.
    – brickz_va
    May 28, 2016 at 2:34

2 Answers 2


You have an ISR and a DHCP server, but you need a TFTP server, then you can just use SmartInstall for Zero Touch Switch Deployment:


SmartInstall provides a suite of capabilities that help deploy new Cisco® Catalyst® switches and manage them effectively at very low operating costs. SmartInstall has true zero-touch switch installation to lower operational costs. SmartInstall helps with initial switch deployment, switch configuration management, and switch replacement. This document will explain the practical benefits of deploying SmartInstall, configurable options for deployment based on different network scenarios, best practices, and customization options.

  • Many thanks! Quick read and it definitely looks like what I need.
    – brickz_va
    May 28, 2016 at 2:51

Catalyst SmartInstall for Zero Touch Switch Deployment

SmartInstall can enable plug-and-play configuration and image management for zero-touch deployment on new and existing Cisco Catalyst LAN switches and zero-touch replacement of existing switches that need to be replaced in a return materials authorization (RMA) scenario.

Nexus 5000 PowerOn Auto Provisioning

PowerOn Auto Provisioning (POAP) automates the process of upgrading software images and installing configuration files on Cisco Nexus switches that are being deployed in the network for the first time.

IOS Routers AutoInstall

AutoInstall is supported over Ethernet, Token Ring, and FDDI interfaces for LANs and serial interfaces with High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC) encapsulation or serial interfaces with Frame Relay encapsulation for WANs. If a LAN interface is used, AutoInstall will attempt to acquire an IP address for the attached interface using Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) requests, Bootstrap Protocol (BOOTP) requests, or Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP) requests. If a serial interface with HDLC encapsulation is connected, AutoInstall will attempt to acquire an IP address for the attached interface using Serial Line Address Resolution Protocol (SLARP).

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