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Updated: Jun 19, 2022

While not supported OR recommended, we CAN install Cisco DNA Center on used server hardware for home-lab and educational purposes.

Caveat #1 - Do not run a production DNA Center this way, there is no guarantee that it will even work.

Caveat #2 - This article is based entirely on my own personal experience with lab hardware I purchased on my own, it is for informational and educational purposes only.

Caveat #3 - I can NOT and will NOT provide you with the ISO file mentioned and used within this guide. Please DO NOT ask me for one.

The image used in this guide is intended to be used for [re]imaging DNA-C Appliances, and installation on anything other than an official supported DNA-C Appliance is not supported. Does that stop those trying to learn from experimenting in the lab? OF COURSE NOT!

Installing DNA Center in the home lab requires some beefy hardware, but it can be done! In this article I will walk though my experience and what I had to do to get things working.

Login Screen for Cisco's DNA Center Appliance.
Cisco DNA-C's Login Screen

Getting experience with the Cisco DNA-C Appliance can be difficult for those trying to learn and experiment. After-all, DNA Center subject matter is a big part of the latest version of the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) exam, and it appears on other certification exams as well.

For those trying to gain experience and learn from home, the biggest problem we face is that DNA Center is very difficult to get running at home for the following reasons:

  • The .ISO File is not publicly available (Nope, I cannot, and will not help obtain the image, please don't ask).

  • The hardware requirements are pretty serious, I'm talking 256 GB of RAM, Minimum.

  • Cisco only supports deploying the DNA Center on specific Cisco DNA-C Appliances.

  • Very difficult (but maybe not impossible) to lab within software such as EVE-NG.

In this guide I will cover what I had to do to get this working in the home lab, so that maybe it can help you.

And we are doing this on BARE METAL! Forget that Stinkin' VMWARE ESX-I Layer.

If you know me, you know I'm a big fan of BARE METAL!

You can checkout my EVE-NG installation guide for BARE METAL servers as well after you finish reading this article.

Ground Zero - Prerequisites and Server Hardware

First, let's take a look at the hardware that Cisco does support, so that we can try to mimic a real world appliance.

Cisco Supported DNA-C Appliance SKUs and Specifications:

  • DN2-HW-APL

  • DN2-HW-APL-L


These appliances are built on Cisco UCS Chassis.

Images of Cisco UCS Chassis
Courtesy of Cisco's DNA-C Data Sheet
Part Numbers
Courtesy of Cisco's DNA-C Data Sheet

These UCS Chassis have a LOT of power. Below we can see the technical details borrowed from the Cisco DNA-C Documentation.

Table 1. 44 Core DNA Center Specs
Courtesy of Cisco's DNA-C Data Sheet
Table 2. 56 Core DNA Center Specs
Courtesy of Cisco's DNA-C Data Sheet