Blog Posts in November 2016

Finding Excuses to Avoid Network Automation

Every time I write about network automation in enterprise environments I get the usual set of excuses including:

Some of the environments I am looking at have around 2000-3000 devices and 6-7 vendors for various functions and 15-20 different device platform from those vendors. I am trying to understand what all environments can Ansible scale up to and what would be an ideal environment enterprises should be looking at more enterprise grade automation/orchestration platforms while keeping in mind that platform allows extensibility.

Luckily I didn’t have to write a response – one of the readers did an excellent job:

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Testing Ansible Playbooks with Cisco VIRL

Cisco VIRL is the ideal testing environment when you want to test your Ansible playbooks with various Cisco network operating systems (IOS, IOS XE, NX-OS or IOS XR). The “only” gotcha: how do you reach those devices from the outside world?

It was always possible to reach the management interface of devices running with VIRL, and it got even simpler with VIRL release 1.2.

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Can VMware NSX and Cisco ACI Interoperate over VXLAN?

I got a long list of VXLAN-related questions from one of my subscribers. It started with an easy one:

Does Cisco ACI use VXLAN inside the fabric or is something else used instead of VXLAN?

ACI uses VXLAN but not in a way that would be (AFAIK) interoperable with any non-Cisco product. While they do use some proprietary tagging bits, the real challenge is the control plane.

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Network Automation: Lego Bricks and Death Stars

One of the challenges traditional networking engineers face when starting their network automation journey is the “build or buy” decision: should I use a plethora of small open-source or commercial tools and components and build my own solution, or should I buy a humongous platform from a reassuringly-expensive $vendor.

Most of us were used to buying platforms ranging from CiscoWorks to HP OpenView (oops, Business Technology Optimization Software) or now Cisco’s NSO, so it’s natural that we’re trying to map this confusing new world into old patterns, leading to interesting discussions like the one I had during one of my workshops:

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Optimize Your Data Center: How Far Did We Get?

Our Data Center optimization journey has finished. We virtualized the workloadgot rid of legacy technologies, reduced the number of server uplinks, replaced storage arrays with distributed file system and replaced physical firewalls and load balancers with virtual appliances.

Let’s see what’s left: it turns out you really don’t need more than two switches in most data centers.

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Breaking News: I’m a Vendor Shill

Got this comment on my Network Automation RFP Requirements blog post:

Looks like you are paid shill for Brocade based on the quote earlier in your blog "The Pass/Fail information included below was collected to the best of my knowledge with extensive help from Jason Edelman, Nick Buraglio, David Barroso and several Brocade engineers (THANK YOU!)."

Hooray, one more accolade to add to my list of accomplishments. And now for a few more details:

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First Speakers in the Spring 2017 Data Center Course

It’s only two weeks since the last live session of the Autumn 2016 Data Center course in which Mitja Robas did a fantastic job describing a production deployment of VMware NSX on top of Cisco Nexus 9000 network, and we already have the first speakers for the Spring 2017 event:

  • Scott Lowe (now at VMware) will talk about the role of open source in data center infrastructure;
  • Thomas Wacker (UBS AG) will talk about their fully automated data center deployments;
  • Andrew Lerner and Simon Richard (Gartner) will participate in a panel discussion on data center and networking trends.
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