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Building Network Automation Solutions

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Build your own network automation solution during this 6-week high-intensity interactive online course.

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Getting Started

In the first module of the network automation online course you’ll get the big picture, including:

  • What is network automation
  • What components should I expect to design in a network automation system
  • How do I get started
  • How do I build my own lab
  • What tools can I use

You’ll also discover a plethora of open-source tools and learn enough Git to get you started.

1:48:00 Introduction to network automation

We’ll start with simple questions: “what is network automation”, “why is it so hard” and “how do I get started”. Next you’ll explore the hierarchy of network automation, from operated network to automated remediation… and might get a few ideas that you could already implement in your network.

48:21 Getting started with network automation

In the first session of the January 2017 course I gave attendees some hints on getting simple automation solutions into production. You might want to skip the first part of the video and focus on From here to there, Start small, and Make it as simple as possible sections.

Getting Started 48:21 2017-01-13
Slide deck 5.8M 2017-08-10

1:21:33 A Network Automation Journey

Patrick Ogenstad described his network automation journey, from writing firewall rules in Excel to deploying large-scale network automation solutions. As he progressed through the problems he solved on this journey, he also identified the lessons learned, pitfalls and takeaways.

Automating Firewall Rules 13:03 2017-09-19
Scaling to 100 Routers 15:50 2017-09-19
Undead Routers 11:26 2017-09-19
Idempotency and Dry Runs 16:03 2017-09-19
Data Is Key 9:51 2017-09-19
Heroes, Conclusions and Answers 15:20 2017-09-19
Slide deck 719K 2017-09-14

1:40:50 Design your network automation systems

This section focuses on larger systems and components you need to build them. You might think you don’t need it, but you’ll find it very handy when trying to move from small spot fixes that address the most-immediate pains to bigger solutions.

Design Your Systems 3.1M 2017-01-11
Design Your Network Automation Systems 100:50 2017-01-13

1:49:00 Network automation tools

A must-have overview of open-source network automation tools, including configuration and state management tools, automation frameworks, version control systems, IPAM tools, and logging, monitoring and testing tools.

1:15:43 Selecting the Right Tool for the Job

Once you've mastered a tool, it's tempting to use it for every job no matter how suitable it is. Alternatively, there are so many tools out there that it's really hard to select the best one… and then there's the usual dilemma of choosing between open-source and commercial offerings. This section will help you get started - it describes typical challenges, differences between fixed-purpose products, platforms and tools, and gives you some selection guidelines. It also includes a few hints on how to study new tools more effectively.

Selecting the Right Tool for the Job 54:49 2017-09-19
Learning How To Use New Tools 20:54 2017-11-08

Reference material

Getting Started slide deck 5.0M 2017-09-15
Learning How to Use New Tools slide deck 1.8M 2017-11-08
Think Python (How to Think like a Computer Scientist)

Even though the book focuses on Python, and you might not want to learn it right now, you'll probably find its discussion of debugging and development plans pretty useful.

1:40:40 Learn Git

Git is the source-control tool of choice not only for most open source project, but also for extremely large teams like Facebook or Microsoft Windows development team. It seems a bit convoluted when you start, but you’ll quickly discover its benefits in this Getting started with Git tutorial by Scott Lowe.

If you’re familiar with another version control tool, or want to learn more about Git, I’d highly recommend reading the Pro Git book. I would also suggest you invest more time in understanding Git concepts than trying to remember a few quick recipes and move on.

Using Git and GitHub 545K 2017-01-17
Git and GitHub 100:40 2017-01-20

Hands-on exercises

Practice Your Git 205K 2017-08-14

Git books and other online courses

Pro Git book
Git in 15 minutes
GitHub on-demand training

Git branching strategies

Gitflow (a commonly used brancing approach)
Git branching guidance (Microsoft.com)
Using Git branches in NetDevOps (Leslie Carr, RIPE 71)

Building your lab

Building your own lab is the messiest part of the whole course. I provided several blueprints - from running Ansible in a VM and working with physical boxes to running an Arista EOS-based fabric or combining an Ansible VM with Cisco devices running in VIRL.

Homework: build your own network automation lab

Helpful resources

Build a network automation lab - overview page
More lab building guidelines and tips-and-tricks

Additional resources

The “additional recommended materials” section of the first module lists several Software Gone Wild podcasts you might find interesting as well as other Git, Python and Ansible online resources.

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