Automation and programmability is not a new topic for me. Having studied Information Technology in High School I’ve always coded somehow, never making it my primary focus but always using it as a tool to make my life easier. I remember a script I did in Pascal to create a menu to load custom maps for Doom II instead of using the CLI. It would be great to find it again but it’s very unlikely because I trashed so many PCs and hard drives since, well, at least I hadn’t bitcoins stored there!
For a Network Engineer living and working on the field has some challenges that are not common in office environments. I have a set of tools, hardware and software, that I bought or built over the years that allow me to accomplish my job in more effective way. I used to carry a small Access Point to provide connectivity inside a datacenter or campus when the rack is located in odd places (you know what I mean).
We live in a time of intent, automation, orchestration and a lot of wonderful tools that promise to make the life of network engineers easier. Sometimes reality is simpler and maybe less fascinating, real problems need to be solved quickly with small budget. The specific case I discuss here is a medium network, around a hundred devices. The problem is to create an inventory of all the devices, backup configurations and verify all the boxes have the correct syslog, ntp and timezone configuration.
I had the honor and pleasure of being invited again to attend Tech Field Day, this time for an Extra event at Cisco Live Europe in Barcelona. Cisco Live is a week full of product announcements, technical session, (social) networking with fellow network engineers, meetings with colleagues and customers, discussions with Cisco engineers about products and roadmap. This is exhausting and exciting at the same time but it definitely worth the effort.
In the previous post of this AirPiConsole series (part1, part2) I used Autossh to create a reverse tunnel from the device to a cloud VPS to permit remote access. The VPS I use is cheap but unreliable so the tunnel was down most of the time so I started looking for a better alternative. The solution came from the Packet Pushers podcast episode PQ134 about ZeroTier. What is ZeroTier?
The future of CLI and how Network Engineers will interact with devices is a topic being discussed quite often: "I'll give you my CLI when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers" - said no #CCIE ever, they're busy automating their networks with Python to save time for more creative activities. Just a few of them suffer the "CLI Stockholm Syndrome"https://t.co/jHkB4LQk5T pic.twitter.com/j8CDgCIBpA — Gian Paolo (@gp_ifconfig) December 6, 2017 Andrew Lerner wrote on November 2016:
At the end of the year it’s quite common to think about the results accomplished and missed on the last twelve months. Some people say career is a marathon, not a sprint and I partially agree. The main difference is a marathon has a predefined path already known since the beginning, a career looks more like connecting the dots but you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards
Quite often cable management is something that starts well when a new IDF is deployed and then gets messier over time. Cable p0rn channel on reddit shows plenty of example of how cabling should look like. I usually don’t do cabling and I’m not good at it either so I’ll not post my home lab setup ;-) Unpatchable? The real problem with poor cable management arises when a new box must be connected and all switch ports are already patched.
I read a lot of discussions about complexity in networking and IT today that include a large amount of FUD. Topics range from “we’ll all lose our jobs because abstraction” to “you can’t fix complexity” to “welcome robot overlords” ;-) Complexity is something that may be easy to move, even easier and to increment, hard to remove. For a clear definition of complexity read Navigating Network Complexity by Jeff Tantsura and Russ White.
White boxes and their impact on enterprise networking is a hot topic today, with many point of views. The last update from Dave Temkin, VP of Network Architecture ad Netflix, put more gasoline on the flames: Super proud of my team - today they removed the last "big expensive router" from our network; no more Cisco ASR or Juniper MX. Inexpensive commodity switches run the entire Netflix Open Connect CDN!