Difference Between Cisco Network Essentials and Network Advantage

Cisco offers two different service tiers for businesses seeking to operate an IT network: Network Essentials and Advantage. Network Essentials is a simple but powerful offering that provides baseline networking capabilities.

Network Essentials delivers sufficient bandwidth, security, reliability, and management tools to connect employees to the resources they need while keeping costs low.

Cisco Network Advantage is designed to help customers build and operate cloud-ready environments by integrating Cisco’s solutions with third-party technologies. It provides enhanced visibility, automation, management, and agility.

Cisco Network Essentials vs Network Advantage

The main difference between Cisco Network Essentials and Network Advantage is that Cisco Network Essential provides more minor features than Network Advantage. All Cisco DNA Essentials capabilities are included in Cisco Network Advantage, as well as Cisco SD-Access, Encrypted Traffic Analytics, and Cisco DNA Assurance.

Cisco Network Essentials vs Network Advantage

The Network Essentials certification validates that you have the necessary understanding and expertise to configure and operate a small enterprise branch network.

In addition, it provides an introduction to basic enterprise data networking concepts and technologies.

The Network Essentials certification is one of four certifications within the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v3 Foundations Certification suite.

Cisco’s Network Advantage certification program consists of multiple levels of professional certifications aligned with specific job roles.

These include: Security; Collaboration; Data Center; Service Provider Routing & Switching; Service Provider Storage & Networking; Service Provider Service Delivery; Data Center Virtualization and Managed Services Professional (MSP).

Comparison Table Between Cisco Network Essentials and Network Advantage

Parameters of ComparisonCisco Network Essentials Network Advantage
DescriptionCisco Network Essentials has two-layered, routed access and has base automation.Cisco Network Advantage is full of L3, Segmentation, ETA, and has Assurance.  
Element ManagementCisco Network Essentials has Software Image Management, Discovery, Inventory, and Topology.Network Advantage has Patch Lifecycle Management.
TelemetryCisco Network Essentials has telemetry like Model-driven Telemetry, Sampled NetFlow, SPAN, and RSPAN.Network Advantage has telemetry ERSPAN, AVC (NBAR2), and Wireshark.  
Routing capabilitiesCisco Network Essentials has BGP, OSPF, IGMP, IGRP, and RIP routing.Network Advantage has Multicast and MPLS.  
PropertiesCisco Network Essentials has basic automation, basic monitoring, and element management.Network Advantage has basic automation, basic monitoring, element management, and software denied access, Assurance, and analytics.
VPNsCisco Network Essentials has VPN such as GETVPN, FlexVPN, and GRE.Network Advantage has VPN such as DMVPN- full Mesh topology support and LISP.

What is Cisco Network Essentials?

The Cisco Network Essentials tier offers basic networking capabilities, whereas the Cisco Advantage tier concentrates on Cisco value-added differentiators.

The tiers are available for both Data Center and Campus networks. Tiers can be purchased either as stand-alone products or as part of a bundled solution.

Refer to the cisco website for the most current information on the list of products included in each tier.

Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol (MSTP), and Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) to Cisco DNATM Networking

are the legacy protocols customers can migrate, which is delivered through Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches and Cisco CatalystTM 9300 Series switches.

VPN options include GETVPN, FlexVPN, and GRE in Cisco Network Essentials. Cisco Network Essentials also includes telemetry features such as Model-driven Telemetry, Sampled NetFlow, SPAN, and RSPAN, as well as two-layered,

routed access and base automation. Basic automation, monitoring, and element management are all available in Cisco Network Essentials.

Cisco DNA combines software-driven infrastructure that runs end-to-end, from devices to data centers, using policy-based automation and control to provide seamless

application and user experiences, rapid deployment of new business services, and consistent network performance throughout the network lifecycle.

What is Network Advantage?

In today’s Enterprise Switching market, the Advantage tier is unquestionably the best software tier available. ‘Network Advantage’ is one of the greatest Network OS licence providing Full L3, Segmentation,

and Resiliency capabilities on the Catalyst 9K platforms.

Cisco Network Advantage Bundle is the best bundle of feature-rich Cisco Catalyst 9500 Series Software that has evolved for almost two decades to support various network needs and applications.

Network Advantage Bundle contains Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software, Cisco OnePK SDK, Cisco ISE, and its extensions, Flexible NetFlow, Embedded Event Manager, among other features.

Network Advantage Bundle also offers an array of licenses, including Advanced Security License (ASA), Advanced IP Services License (AIS), and so on. If you are planning to use or have already started using the Catalyst 9K platform’s additional features, you should go for this bundle.

The only reason I wouldn’t upgrade would be if you already have a supported version of ACI NX-OS Image available to you.

It needs to be mentioned that if you want to use the ACI NX-OS image in your Catalyst 9K switch, the only thing that stands between you is a license file that can be obtained from Cisco Support. 

Cisco Catalyst 9000-Series Switches represent the latest innovation from Cisco. These switches are used by enterprises, large businesses, and service providers.

The switches have several advanced features, including new wire-speed capabilities and redundant power supplies.

The complete feature set of these switches makes them suitable for supporting enterprise networks in large-scale environments.

Main Differences Between Cisco Network Essentials and Network Advantage 

  1. Cisco Network Essentials includes two layers of security, routed access, and basic automation, but Cisco Network Advantage has L3, segmentation, ETA, and Assurance.
  2. Cisco Network Essentials have telemetry features such as Model-driven Telemetry, Sampled NetFlow, SPAN, and RSPAN, while ERSPAN, AVC (NBAR2), and Wireshark are telemetry features in Cisco Network Advantage.
  3. Cisco Network Essentials have VPNs such as GETVPN, FlexVPN, and GRE. On the other hand, Network Advantage offers VPNs such as DMVPN and LISP and full Mesh topology compatibility.
  4. Cisco Network Essentials includes BGP, OSPF, IGMP, IGRP, and RIP routing, whereas Network Advantage has Multicast and MPLS.
  5. Cisco Network Essentials has basic automation, monitoring, and element management, whereas Cisco Network Advantage includes basic automation and software restricted access, Assurance, and analytics.


Cisco is aware of the situation. In the past, enterprise clients have continuously purchased solutions such as Catalyst 3K with a Lan Base, IP Base, or IP services.

So Network Advantage is an upgraded base software-licensing option for Cisco Network Essential with the DNA Advantage subscription license.

Cisco Network Advantage features sophisticated switching capabilities, flexible network segmentation, increased security controls, and IoT integration,

in addition to switching fundamentals, telemetry and visibility, and management automation.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6678926/
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JVAk7r6jHF4C&oi=fnd&pg=PT34&dq=Difference+Between+Cisco+Network+Essentials+and+Network+Advantage+(With+Table)&ots=E8hGFLDkhl&sig=jF_jdquvhswjBbVCRDd5OtLLa00
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