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Building network automation solutions

9 module online course

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Don't Let the Automation Snowflakes Stop You

You know that time of year when snowflakes mean more than description of uniqueness of your networking infrastructure? Some people love to complain about that season and how the weather hinders them, others put on sturdy winter boots and down jackets, change tires on their car, and have tons of fun.

Network automation is no different. Sometimes you can persuade your peers that it makes sense to simplify and standardize the infrastructure to make it easier to abstract and automate (consider that an equivalent of going to a tropic island with shiny beaches and everlasting summer), other times you have to take out your winter boots and make the best out of what you got.

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Real-Life Network Automation: How It All Started

In spring 2018 I started collecting real-life automation wins reported by the attendees of my Building Network Automation Solutions online course. I presented them at Troopers, and as a set of network automation use cases that are available to all ipSpace.net subscribers, some of them even with free subscription.

Today let’s start with how did it start story.

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VNFs and Containers: Heptagonal Pegs and Triangle Holes

One of my readers sent me this question:

It would be nice to have a blog post or a webinar describing how to implement container networking in case when: (A) application does not tolerate NAT (telco, e.g. due to SCTP), (B) no DNS / FQDN, is used to find the peer element and (C) bandwidth requirements may be tough.

The only thing I could point him to is the Advanced Docker Networking part of Docker Networking Fundamentals webinar (available with free subscription) where macvlan and ipvlan are described.

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Using MPLS+EVPN in Data Center Fabrics

Here’s a question I got from someone attending the Building Next-Generation Data Center online course:

Cisco NCS5000 is positioned as a building block for a data center MPLS fabric – a leaf-and-spine fabric with MPLS and EVPN control plane. This raised a question regarding MPLS vs VXLAN: why would one choose to build an MPLS-based fabric instead of a VXLAN-based one assuming hardware costs are similar?

There’s a fundamental difference between MPLS- and VXLAN-based transport: the amount of coupling between edge and core devices.

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Upcoming Webinars and Events: November 2018

The last two months of 2018 will be jam-packed with webinars and on-site events:

December will be a storage, EVPN and SDN month:

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Architecture before Products

Yves Haemmerli, Consulting IT Architect at IBM Switzerland, sent me a thoughtful response to my we need product documentation rant. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.


Yes, whatever the project is, the real added value of an IT/network architect consultant is definitely his/her ability to create models (sometimes meta-models) of what exists, and what the customer is really looking for.

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Worth Reading: Notes on Distributed Systems

I long while ago I stumbled upon an excellent resource describing why distributed systems are hard (what I happened to be claiming years ago when OpenFlow was at the peak of the hype cycle ;)… lost it and found it again a few weeks ago.

If you want to understand why networking is hard (apart from the obvious MacGyver reasons) read it several times; here are just a few points:

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It’s All About Business…

A few years ago I got cornered by an enthusiastic academic praising the beauties of his cryptography-based system that would (after replacing the whole Internet) solve all the supposed woes we’re facing with BGP today.

His ideas were technically sound, but probably won’t ever see widespread adoption – it doesn’t matter if you have great ideas if there’s not enough motivation to implementing them (The Myths of Innovation is a mandatory reading if you’re interested in these topics).

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Observability Is the New Black

In early October I had a chat with Dinesh Dutt discussing the outline of the webinar he’ll do in November. A few days later Fastly published a blog post on almost exactly the same topic. Coincidence? Probably… but it does seem like observability is the next emerging buzzword, and Dinesh will try to put it into perspective answering these questions:

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netdev 0x12 Update on Software Gone Wild

In recent years Linux networking started evolving at an amazing pace. You can hear about all the cool new stuff at netdev conference… or listen to Episode 94 of Software Gone Wild to get a CliffsNotes version.

Roopa Prabhu, Jamal Hadi Salim, and Tom Herbert joined Nick Buraglio and myself and we couldn’t help diverging into the beauties of tc, and the intricacies of low-latency forwarding before coming back on track and started discussing cool stuff like:

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What’s the Big Deal with Validation?

This blog post was initially sent to subscribers of my mailing list. Subscribe here.

In his Intent-Based Networking Taxonomy blog post Saša Ratković mentioned real-time change validation as one of the requirements for a true intent-based networking product.

Old-time networkers would instinctively say “sure, we need that” while most everyone else might be totally flabbergasted. After all, when you create a VM, the VM is there (or you’d get an error message), and when you write to a file and sync the file system the data is stored, right?

As is often the case, networking is different.

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