The management of servers especially with Linux or BSD without automation tools is almost non-existent today. While in the early 2000s it was common for a sysadmin to be responsible for a dozen servers (physical back then!) and exclusively manage these few boxes, it is very different today. Today it is normal for a small team to manage hundreds or thousands of servers (or VMs). This would not be possible without good automation tools. This is also reflected, for example, in RedHat’s latest RHCE certification which now requires the candidate to do all the work with Ansible scripts.

While today automation tools are also available for the networking field, the situation is different. Many network engineers still configure devices manually on the CLI.

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Applying automation to networking looks very attractive

  • Shorter lead time for provision of new services
  • Less time for debugging because of higher consistency in configurations.
  • Engineers can manage more devices.

Automation can be applied right at the beginning of the lifecycle of a device. Automated initial provisioning is called Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) by network providers. Admins of Intel-based servers know this procedure as PXE boot. This means a device can bootstrap itself with information it gets from a DHCP server.

Once a device has its base config and is reachable over the network, it can be further configured with tools like Ansible, Salt, Puppet, or similar. Ideally these tools fetch config data from a “source of truth” like NetBox and config templates from a source code management system like GIT.

While these tools provide plenty of freedom of choice, they also require a lot of initial learning and work to get everything up and running. The engineers at ngworx.ag can help with this bootstrapping in order to reach goals quickly and sustainably . It also helps that providers like Juniper and Arista publish ready-made Ansible roles on GitHub free of charge.

Automate daily operations

StableNet from Infosim not only allows for the monitoring of network devices from different manufacturers, but also allows all for automation of all aspects of device configuration. The combination of monitoring and provisioning is very attractive since it allows us to react to anomalies and failures and initiate auto remediation procedures.

ngworx is your partner for automation and becoming efficient

Another option is to use tools from the manufacturers themselves. These are often more informative which can help with a rapid rollout. Apstra AIS from Juniper is an ideal solution to automate all aspects of a data centre fabric and supports hardware from several manufacturer. CloudVision from Arista is easy to start with and can be used to provision all aspects of an Arista-based network

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