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Building Network Automation Solutions

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Build your own network automation solution during this 9-module high-intensity interactive online course.

Easy Wins

The second module of the network automation online course focuses on easy wins - things that can add significant value to your existing network operations just with read-only access to the network devices.

You'll learn how to gather data using vendor-specific API, show commands or NAPALM, and how to produce summary- or compliance reports.

Understanding Ansible

You won’t be able to follow the rest of this module without a thorough understanding of Ansible. If you haven’t completed the Ansible for Networking Engineers online course, please do it now.

At the very minimum, you have to understand YAML, Jinja2, basics of Ansible, and Ansible networking modules.

1:05:04 Creating Summary and Compliance Reports

In the second session of the January 2017 course we explored various ways of creating summary- and compliance reports with Ansible. After watching the videos describing the underlying principles and numerous examples you’ll be ready to solve the Easy Wins hands-on exercises.

Creating Reports 46:45 2017-01-20
Compliance Checks 18:19 2017-01-20

Additional resources

Slide deck 4.1M 2017-01-20
Sample summary report playbooks
Sample compliance checks playbooks
Create list of fabric links based on interface descriptions
Create network topology diagram from LLDP neighbors

49:53 Compare Network State after a Change

One of the simple solutions that can increase the reliability of your network is comparing the network state before and after a change.

This case study describes:

  • How you could collect and compare network state
  • How to collect network state with Ansible and compare it with diff
  • How to remove time-dependent information from the network state
Defining the Problem and Selecting the Tools 14:34 2017-09-28
Quick and Dirty Solution 9:28 2017-09-28
Removing Time-Dependent Information 10:33 2017-09-28
Improvements and Answers to Questions 15:18 2017-09-28
Slide deck 5.9M 2017-09-25
Source code (Ansible playbooks and test script)

Sample Ansible Playbooks

Before moving to hands-on exercises you might want to spend some time exploring the sample Ansible playbooks I created to illustrate the concepts discussed in this module.

Sample summary report
Sample compliance checks
Create fabric description from interface descriptions
Use LLDP data to create fabric description or network diagram
Collect and compare network state

Hands-on exercises

Hands-on exercises for the second module are relatively simple: assuming you already built your network automation lab, create a simple summary report. Looking for tougher challenge? Don’t worry, it’s waiting for you.

Homework: Create a simple summary report
Submit your homework

Additional resources

21:22 Organizing Your Data and Code

Once you start working on real-life automation challenges, the single-directory-per-project approach quickly turns into a morass - it's time to organize your code and data into an easy-to-understand hierarchical structure. This section describes several approaches that you might apply to small proof-of-concept solutions or large production-grade projects.

Organize Your Code and Data 21:22 2018-04-18
Slide Deck 2.5M 2018-02-27

1:04:21 Manage Network Device Configurations with Git

One of the first steps on anyone's automation journey should be tight control of device configurations using a version control system. This section describes how you can use Git and GitLab/GitHub to track changes to device configurations, correlate changes to tickets or business requirements, implement review and approval workflow, and finally use Git as the single source of (configuration) truth.

Introduction to Network Device Configuration Version Control 13:53 2018-04-18
Track Changes to Device Configurations with Version Control Repository 13:35 2018-05-20
Approve Changes Done to Device Configurations with Merge/Pull Requests 10:31 2018-04-18
Use Feature Branches to Document Device Configuration Changes 7:24 2018-04-18
Use Git to Change/Approve/Deploy Device Configurations 18:58 2018-04-18
Slide Deck 2.7M 2018-04-17

1:28:31 Troubleshooting Networks with NetQ

NetQ is a tool developed by Cumulus Networks that allow you to validate proper operation of your network (BGP and OSPF adjacencies, LLDP neighbors...), log network state changes, inspect network state at any time in the past, and perform end-to-end path tracing including overlay-to-underlay mapping.

State of Data Center Troubleshooting 16:07 2017-09-28
Introducing NetQ 21:46 2017-09-28
Troubleshooting Networks with NetQ 32:13 2017-09-28
Customizing and Extending NetQ 18:25 2017-09-28
Slide deck 25M 2017-09-26
NetQ test lab (Cumulus-in-the-Cloud)

Optional self-study materials

The “additional recommended materials” section of the second module lists several Software Gone Wild podcasts you might find interesting.

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