Network Automation Tools

Overall rating: 4.50 Instructor: 4.63 Materials: 4.55 more …

Nothing distinguishes the modern network from its predecessor as much as efficient network operations. This operational efficiency could not have been achieved without the modernization of the tools used by a network operator. Marshall McLuhan, a famous Canadian philosopher said, "First we shape the tools, and then the tools shape us". The network operators coming from the previous generation have thus largely been shaped by the tools born of that era, tools such as ssh and Excel.

The new world and its tools can be confusing, even hard to understand. Which ones make sense, and why. How do I evaluate them? Sure, I know Ansible and I can Jinja like a Ninja, but does it mean I can be truly lethal in my operational efficiency? This webinar provides a framework for understanding and evaluating the tools available to a modern network engineer. We won't just talk Ansible and Git, or Puppet about Chef, but a lot more. And more importantly, this webinar aims to provide a framework for you to begin exploring and evaluating on your own.

The webinar might also help you answer these questions:

  • Why were the networking vendors talking about Puppet and Chef, and now praise Ansible as the solution to all problems?
  • What are the differences between Puppet, Chef and Ansible?
  • Does it make sense to use Git to manage device configurations?
  • How could I use Vagrant to simulate my network?
  • What tools could I use to manage logs and events?
  • Why are many engineers using pmacct to monitor the traffic flows?
  • What could I do with a syslog collector (apart from having messages logged and analyzed)?
  • Why would an IPAM be part of an automation solution?
  • Why would someone mention SNMP tools and automation in the same sentence?


This webinar is part of Network Automation roadmap and accessible with standard subscription

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  • Network simulation tools: Vagrant;
  • Configuration and state management tools: Puppet and Chef;
  • Automation frameworks: Ansible;
  • Version control tools: Git;
  • Continuous integration tools;
  • Configuration backup with Rancid and Oxidized;
  • IPAM tools: nsot and NIPAP;
  • SNMP-based monitoring with Observium, LibreNMS and Grafana/ELK
  • Flow data management with pmacct, nfdump and ELK stack
  • Service monitoring with Nagios and Munin
  • Syslog processing with Graylog and Splunk
  • Network testing with perf tools and ToDD

Network Simulation Tools

Network simulation needs to be a fundamental tool in the network operator and network architect's toolbox. Today, it is largely used as a way to train for certification, rather than for simulating real production networks on which various scenarios can be validated before being turned into real production.

In this part of the webinar, Dinesh Dutt discusses the use of network simulation including when to use it, what questions it can help answer, and where it falls short. He also delves deeper into the use of a popular open-source multi-vendor network simulation tool called Vagrant, discusses its capabilities, use models, and demonstrates its power.

Configuration and State Management Tools

There are many tools that fit the description of "configuration and state management". In section, we'll take a look at the tools in the networking industry, the major differences in how they function, and discuss common workflows. While the focus is on the more widely used (at least in network automation) Ansible, Nornir, and Salt, it's worth contrasting them with others like Terraform, but also the venerable Chef and Puppet.

These tools also rely on a host of other data, frameworks, and libraries, so expect to hear about those that facilitate interacting with network devices (Netmiko, NAPALM), testing and parsing output (pyATS/Genie, TextFSM, TTP), and the infamous Source of Truth.

Version Control Tools

Version control is at the heart of any automation platform. This section covers its benefits in the context of NetDevOps and Infrastructure-As-Code, explains why you should use Git (is there even another choice nowadays?), and how centralized services built on top of Git – such as GitHub/GitLab/Bitbucket – work and how you could best use them.

About the Authors

Dinesh DuttDinesh Dutt has been in the networking industry for the past 20 years, most of it at Cisco Systems. Most recently, he was the Chief Scientist at Cumulus Networks, working on simplifying configuration and operations with inventions such as BGP Unnumbered and NetQ. Before Cumulus, he was a Fellow at Cisco Systems. He has been involved in enterprise and data center networking technologies, including the design of many of the ASICs that powered Cisco's mega-switches such as Cat6K and the Nexus family of switches. He also has experience in storage networking from his days at Andiamo Systems and in the design of FCoE. He is a co-author of TRILL and VxLAN and has filed for over 40 patents.

Elisa JasinskaElisa Jasinska has been automating large-scale networks for almost 10 years. She started her career at AMS-IX and was later involved in setting up various other Internet Exchanges. She implemented numerous traffic accounting and automation solutions for Internet Exchanges and CDN’s, she is actively involved in the internet community and regularly presents at conferences such as NANOG and RIPE.

Cristian SirbuCristian Sirbu (@cmsirbu) is a consultant, trainer, and community builder (co-founder/organizer of the Irish Network Operators Group) with a particular interest in infrastructure design, automation, and solving business problems with technology. He's been in the industry for 15+ years building, breaking, and fixing networks of various sorts and sizes (while getting his CCIE #43453 in the process), but also having fun with a bit of coding and system administration. He is currently based in Dublin, Ireland, helping businesses around the world learn, build and deploy network automation through his independent consultancy Redbit Networks.

More about Cristian…

Ivan Pepelnjak

Ivan Pepelnjak (CCIE#1354 Emeritus) has implemented his first network automation solution in mid-1990s, presented SDN and Network Automation solutions at Interop, Troopers, RIPE and other regional ISP meetings, and delivered numerous on-site SDN and network automation workshops for large enterprises and service providers.

Ivan is the author of several SDN-related books, Hands-On Network Automation workshop, Building Network Automation Solutions online course, highly praised webinars, and dozens of network automation and SDN-related technical articles published on his blog.

More about Ivan Pepelnjak

Happy Campers

About the webinar

It was worth taking this webinar, balance between time spent taking it and knowledge that I gained from it is very good.

Milan Stanojevic
The content is always comprehensive but the delivery is dry. I wish you could see the person speaking.
Susan Calland
The webinar provided examples of tools and what they are used for in real world networks. Really enjoyed the session
Richard Dering
Dinesh, Ivan - great trainers.
Radu Pavaloiu
Interesting and fun as usual !

A small suggestion : maybe try to make more synthetic slides. It's quite common to hear Dinesh read the exact sentence that is written on the slide...

I'd just put non-sentence bullet points (and maybe have notes on the sides just in case): that way,the slides are less likely to distract the audience and are just a support for the presentation.

Anyway, it was great as usual !
Clément Hermann
I found this webinar quite useful. I had never come across Libvirt before so it opened my eyes to a wider pool of virtualisation tools. I was able to spin up Vagrant after this webinar (after fighting with the lack of ESXi support!)
James Miles
In general, the content of the network automation webinars are on a different level that anything else I have watched.
Jon Larsen

About the instructor

Dinesh Dutt is always concise and demonstrates a phenomenal grip of chosen topic.
James Miles

About the materials

Just what I said about the sentences on slides on the previous page (probably should have saved this comment for here)
Clément Hermann