Learn Network Automation With CISCO For Free
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Tuesday, 02 February 2021

We take a look at five Learning Labs to get you started with network automation from Cisco Devnet. Python and the REST API are among the topics covered and all the content is free  

This online learning is hosted on the Cisco Devnet educational platform, which offers practical learning opportunities in bite-sized labs. It has many subjects, but this post focuses on the 5-class learning path for aquiring network automation skills.

It starts by going back to basics as the very first class is on Networking Basics. Lasting 1 hour 20 minutes it comprises the following lessons: 

  • Networking basics and software-defined networks
    Learn the basics of networking, including networking hardware and the ways in which SDN is changing how they function.
  • Networking topologies and models
    Learn about network topologies
    Understand network cable categories and types
    Study the networking OSI and TCP/IP models
  • IPv4 addresses and subnets
    Learn about IPv4 addresses.
    Understand how to use binary numbers.
    Learn about subnets, hosts, and using subnetting. 

The information consists of pure HTML/text, no videos, is generalized and not Cisco specific.At the end of each lesson there's however references to Cisco dedicated information.

The second class is on setting up our Developer Workstation and Environment. It lasts 3 hours and covers: 

  • What is a Development Environment, and why do you need one?
  • Setting up your Windows workstation as a development environment
  • Setting up your macOS workstation as a development environment
  • Setting up your Linux (CentOS) workstation as a development environment
  • Setting up your Linux (Ubuntu) workstation as a development environment 

This includes source control systems, terminals and shells, programming languages (Python), text editors and IDEs, tools and application container engines, customized for each OS category.

Of course, we couldn't do without Python and the next class, lasting 2 hours 15 minutes  is on Python Fundamentals.. on


  • A Brief Introduction to Git
  • Intro to Coding and APIs
    Ponders why engineers should learn to code and the value of using APIs.
  • Intro to Python - Part 1
    Basic data types, variables, conditionals and functions
  • Intro to Python - Part 2
    How to create and use Python’s list, tuple, and dictionary data structures.
    Where to go to find other collections.
    Python’s two looping mechanisms and when to use them.
    How Python files are structured and executed.
    Basic debugging tools and processes.
    Parsing JSON with Python and Python libraries 

Next stop is on REST API Fundamentals which builds on the APIs module while going deeper with Postman. 

  • What is REST? What are APIs?
  • Getting Started with REST APIs
  • Hands On Exercise: Using Postman to Interact with REST APIs 

And finally, in Introduction to Model Driven Programmability in which all our efforts lead us to the real deal - talking to devices through network management standards like NETCONF/YANG. Building on RFC 3535, the IETF developed NETCONF and YANG to offer a standard protocol and data modeling language for programmatic network management. 

  • What and Why of Model Driven Programmability
  • Introducing YANG Data Modeling for the Network
    Learn about YANG modeling language
  • Exploring IOS XE YANG Data Models with NETCONF
    Working with NETCONF to access the YANG modeled configuration and operational data on your network devices
  • Exploring IOS XE YANG Data Models with RESTCONF
    REST API for the network.RESTCONF with basic API calls and with Python


All in all, this is a great opurtunity to get your feet wet in Network Automation. It's all free and the only thing required is signing up for a DevNet account.


More Information

Networking Basics

Developer Workstation and Environment Setup

Python Fundamentals

REST API Fundamentals

Introduction to Model Driven Programmability

Related Articles

Learn Python with Microsoft or the University of Michigan


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 February 2021 )